28 October 2021.
A local primary 7 class doing a project on climate change joined us at the STACEES exhibition in St Salvator’s Quad.
The pupils enjoyed talks by some of the researchers whose photographs feature in the exhibition:
– Dr James Rae (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences)
– Dr Emilka Skrzypek (Department of Social Anthropology, Centre for Energy Ethics)
– Dr Juan Hernandez Santisteban (School of Physics and Astronomy)
– Dr Patrick O’Hare (School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies)
The speakers gave talks beside their photo exhibits before the pupils explored the exhibition alongside their teachers.
The event kicked off with James getting the class warmed up by doing a ‘carbon dance’. For onlookers, it must have been an entertaining sight for a Thursday morning to see the pupils, teachers and academics ‘making shapes’ in the quad cloisters! James explained how carbon’s movement heats up the atmosphere before talking about innovative methods for neutralising atmospheric carbon.
Emilka’s talk focussed on the impacts of (copper) mining development for indigenous communities in the Sepik river region of Papa New Guinea. The presentation highlighted the various ways that consumption of electronic devices and cars affects people on the other side of the world. The pupils asked sophisticated questions such as whether indigenous groups have the right to resist mining projects on their lands, and ‘who gets to decide what actually happens?’.
Juan’s talk highlighted all the different forms of transport his astronomical research would ordinarily involve. He got the pupils guessing about ways astronomers can reduce their carbon footprint…the answer? Using robotic telescopes! He explained that rather than having to travel from Scotland to an observatory in Lanzarote (and back), he has another way to study supermassive black holes: “A computer and a robot goes to the supermassive black hole, records it, and sends it back to me here in my office in Scotland”.
On returning from the exhibition to the school classroom, the group then watched a video about a landfill site in Uruguay recorded by Patrick (who is currently doing fieldwork in Uruguay). The class had a discussion about plastic and waste based on Patrick’s video and corresponding research image in the STACEES exhibition. The pupils and teachers had been shocked to realise that the white mound in Patrick’s exhibition image was not a mountain as they (and likely most exhibition attendees) initially presumed, but a pile of nappies!