Category: Education

Country File Live photos 2017 (by )

Country File Live was an amazing event with just so much going on - because I was working there I barely got a chance to snap things as I passed - the girls and Al also had a fab time but still felt that they had barely scratched the surface - Jean took photos on her iPad which we'll pop up in a different post. These are the snaps I took on the first day.

Snake with the reptiles and amphibian group Country File Live

This beautiful snake was part of a demonstration including handling by the Oxfordshire Amphibian and Reptile Group (I think!).

Blue dragonfly at Country File Live

I caught this blue dragonfly whilst taking a nap on some bails in front of the bee hive (head injury recovery means I have to take random naps but it is very surreal to conk out in public but I think it's working well).

Birds on the lake Country File Live

There was a lake with a wibbly wobbly bouncy but secure temporary bridge across it. It contained various birds and plants coming and going.

Tree face Country File Live

There were some great flower displays in the Wild Life Zone.

Metal Duck Country File Live

I love this duck - it is exactly the sort of thing I would buy Al if I had more money 🙂

Bikes and flowers in the wild life zone Country File Live

This bike display cheered me up even though it had just been bucketing it down!

tractor tractoring country file live

Tractors! I live like machines like tractors.

Ye old tractor Country File Live

I love old machines like tractors.

Vintage tractor Country File Live

Probably a good job I didn't have more time or there would have been hundred of flower and machine pics!

Old tractor Country File Live

I'm working on a series of machine colouring sheets for an event in the autumn as well to be fair - but I would have still taken all the photos regardless.

Tractor! Country File Live

I like the gubbings of machines.

Tractor bits Country File Live

I think they are pretty

Tractor parts Country File Live

These were all from a huge monster of a machine

Tractor gubbings Country File Live

Many people were taking photographs - elderly men mostly and a press officer.

Tractor swirls Country File Live

Everyone feels they need to ask me why I am taking photos of tractors or make jokes about it - this happens at car shows too.

Being a little bit batty at the Garden Stage with Oxford Mammale Group at Country File Live

We got Batty with the Oxfordshire Mammal Groups.

Foxes and Badgers with the Oxford Mammal Group at Country File Live

And met the cuddly foxes and badgers.

Oxford Mammal Group explain mice with cute cuddlies

And a squeaky little mouse 🙂

Mouse, fox and badger skulls country file live

And skulls of said animals - well actually in the photo there is a mouse skull, fox and badger.

Giant papier mache stage beetle at Country File Live

Insects also featured heavily including butterfly nets creches, many types of bees and this giant papier mache stag beetle!

Milk churn urn flower pots country file live

Milk churn flower display - this is similar to what I wanted when we lived at The Bakery though I was going to bare paint them so they didn't rust away.

Sheep sculptures at Country File Live

Sheep sculptures - love these though more from a making point of view if I am honest - I remember going to a Garden Show and seeing large metal dragons like this which I adored! If we ever get to do the Salaric Emporium idea and have a tea garden then this sort of thing will be in it (along with dinos and fairies!).

yellow water lilies on the lake Country File Live

These beautiful yellow water lilies where on the lake.

Go Wild Country File Live

Loved the giant Go Wild sing 🙂

Water plants Country File Live

Water plants on the lake - oh I probably should have mentioned that this was at Blenheim Palace.

Geese arriving on the lake at Country File Live

The geese kept landing and taking off from the lake and were pretty impressive!

Geese at Blenheim Palace Country File Live

There was plenty of garden ideas - especially those to help you have a greener more wildlife friendly garden - I like this shed but I'm pretty sure ours is falling down and couldn't take the extra strain!

A shed of flowers for the bees Country File Live

Food is a huge part of the event too - I caught sight of this fab cheese stall!

Cheese at Country File Live

And Kendal Mint Cake Laqueur!

Kendal Mint Cake Liqueur at Country File Live

And to end - more animal sculptures 🙂

Horse and deer sculptures at Country File Live

Cuddly Science At Country File Live (by )

Cuddly Science ready to go at Country File Live

The Cuddly Science Paleo Posse were really excited to be at Country File Live with the Gloucestershire Geology Trust. They got to perform on the Garden Stage of the Wildlife Zone and do a bit of walk about.

The puppets are Mary Anning, Charles Darwin and Mary Leakey and the associated props where a squid hair clip, a triceratops head piece and a brain hat. And together with the audience we explored evolution, landscape, history and science plus quiet a lot of improve humour in response to the kids 🙂

Cuddly Science Paleo Posse waiting in the Garden Stage of the Wildlife area at Country File Live

Walking around with the puppets doing little improve sets to let people know about the actual shows was fantastic - I really love this aspect of it.

Mary Anning the Puppet out and about explaining fossils at Country File Live

Children really do love the puppets - far more than I thought they would when I was designing the general concept! They get cuddled rather a lot. Coraline button eyes and all!

Cuddly Science explaining landscape and geology at Country File Live

Adults often end up in conversations with them as well!

Mary Anning the puppet looking for her pet squid in the Wildlife area of Country File Live

Mary Anning the puppet did seem to spend a lot of her time searching for her pet squid which the children helped her find - she then explained about cephalopod, belemnites and fossilised ink sacs and how looking at creatures alive today you tell a lot about extinct animals and vice versa.

Mary Anning the puppet looking for her pet squid in the Wildlife area of Country File Live

The squid was most popular and got one little one so excited I ended up giving her one of my My Pet Dinosaurs booklets as well as the colouring sheets as after finding the squid she just kept asking questions and she really was very little 🙂

Cuddly Science Paleo Posse on Stage at Country File Live

Mary Anning comes from Dorset so... apparently my accent was "not too bad, a little caricature but better than Poldark" - I'm happy with that 🙂 Though I will say whilst telling kids about the fossils in the Geo Trusts' tent I struggled with some of the dino names!

Cuddly Science Paleo Posse on the Garden Stage Country File Live

Kids actually came back for successive shows - this is what I found with the British Science Festival too, which is why I don't like just repeating material and try and swirl it all around a bit even if it is the same characters!

Mary Anning the puppet explaining how she discovered fossilised ink sacs at Country File Live

I am very pleased with how Mary Anning has turned out and she is such an easy character to play/envelope and as was said by a fellow story teller at Stroud Out Loud the week before - she's a story telling gift - such a colourful life right from infancy!

Talking rocks at Country File Live

She is also a good contrast to the other two characters who hated school as she loved it and worked really hard - this ticks my want boxes of role models/relatable things for as many kids as possible.

Cuddly Science on stage talking rocks Country File live

The Glos GeoTrust also sent a T-rex out with me to help let people know about the show - which was amazing and lit. got all the kids running over!

Glos GeoTrust T-rex planting a tree in the wildlife zone Country File Live

Of course the other puppets did also get on stage - though I failed to get a pic of Mary Leakey and the brain hat which is a shame.

Darwin Puppet explaining the bone wars and evolution at Country File Live

Darwin was very popular indeed and had to be rescued and placed back in his cryogenic chamber due to the kids wanting to play (I may need to re attach some hair!).

Big thankyou to the Glos Geo Trust and Country File Live and my lovely sound engineer who did tell me his name but I have since forgotten :/

Inbetween rests and performances I also helped out at the GeoTrusts tent - this contained both the Gloucester and Oxfordshire Geological Trusts and contained so much fun stuff!

Geo-Entertainments: when dealing with the public and geology - especially where kids are involved you tend to end up pulling out the dinosaurs. I know myself that the big things for me as a kid were finding my own bits of nature... sticks, feathers, shells, stones and fossils followed by the absolute WOW!!!! moment of the five year old me walking into the Natural History Museum London and seeing Dippy standing there. This was a huge dino skeleton reconstruction and dominated the great hall as you wandered in. I just remember the awe and the silence that enveloped me when what it was was explained. This began my dino madness which was fuelled further by films such as the Land Before Time and Jurassic Park.

The Gloucester Geology Trust knowing their local geology and what engages people have a lot of dino stuff on hand!

Dr Alice Kennedy showing off the T-rex replicas teeth at Country File Live

These photos are Dr Alice Kennedy showing people the T-rex reconstruction skull, it is one quarter the size of an actual t-rex skull because you know it has to actually fit in a car to be taken to shows, schools and events! (p.s. yes you can get your local Geo Trust to come into your school for talks and workshops, some even have funding to help with this!).

Dr Alice Kennedy explaining all things geologic at Country File Live

And of course there was the dino-dig! Excavation digs ie sandpits do seem to be really popular with kids (as the Archaeology Festival proved for Cuddly Science).

Dino sandpit dig Glos GeoTrust Country File Live

And who could forget the inflatable dinosaur!

T-rex planting a tree vexed by little tiny t-rex arms Country File Live

Yes it's planting a tree 🙂

T-Rex and the Bee out for a stroll Country File Live

Yes it went for a walk with a bee!

T-rex and Buzy Bumble going for a walk Country File Live

I believe it was an Oxford Friends of the Earth bee but I would not swear to it.

Fuzzy Buzzy Bees at Country File Live

There was a swarm of the things!

But dinosaurs what not the only thing they had bought:

The Geo-Trusts had an amazing array of rocks, fossils, maps and reconstructions with them, including a hadrosaur head banging bit and the Buckland Megalosaurus jaw (yes I know more dinos but shhh). There was a mix of fossils and reconstructions, not to mention a map or two.

Fossils and reconstructions with Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire Geo Trusts

Fossil shrimp! Just look at the preservation on this little fellow!

Fossil Shrimp Glos Geo Trust Country File Live

I loved this cute velociraptor skull which got me into many an argument with kids who've seen the Jurassic Park Franchise films but have yet to delve deeper into the mists of deep time and dino-lore!

velociraptor skull Glos Geo Trust Country File Live

People who have known me and Al for a while will know we call each other polyp and kids as well... this is because when we first started going out I'd just started my paleo-biology module and was fast becoming obsessed with colonial and modular organisms such as bryozoans and corals (and plants for that matter). Polyps are the little creatures (v. similar to zooids) and I explained the concept to Al and he would pretend to be in a polyp tube and so on... This is why I got rather over excited at these fossil corals etc... 🙂

Fossil corals and modular organisms in the geology tent Country File Live

On one of my University interviews - Birmingham I think - I was given a fossil to try and identify - I thought it was a coral. It wasn't it was a mammoth tooth dredged from the English channel (I think it was a long time ago!). This misidentification burned what a mammoth's tooth looks like into my brain and thus when I saw this little one I knew what it was instantly (I still checked though before telling kids that that was what it was!). I never got to do the vertebrate paleo module which made me very sad and working that the Natural History Museum I was limited to the projects I was working on so didn't really get a broad look at macro/large fossils. The thing that looks like a shiny slither of tree is - it is fossil wood 🙂

Baby mammoth tooth and fossilised wood Gloucestershire geological trust

Dino-Roar! This is a view into the T-rex reconstruction skull - it is angled slightly upwards so you can really see the shape of the teeth. The Natural History Museum used to have little workshops on working out what you could tell about an animal from the skull/teeth/eye sockets ie diet, predation and social structure so I may have wibbled about this to the kids a lot.

Dino roar T-rex reconstruction skull veiw into the mouth at an upward angle

Shiny sand dollar! Look at that five fold symmetry!

Fossil Sand Dollar Glos Geological Trust Country File Live

Glos Geo Trust also had fossil making with plaster of paris with moulds from actual fossils, and a badge maker. And the Ox Geo Trust has 3D dino skull masks and little dino puppets which I sadly failed to get any photos of because to be quiet frank it was really quiet busy!

The Folk Museum (by )

The Folk Museum (rebranded to the Life Museum) is Mary's favourite museum - it is a great local treasure full of local history and fun activities for the kids, behind the scenes there is a lot of curation and looking after the collections. The building itself is a beautiful wooden beamed structure that is hundreds of years old - sadly this also means it is expensive to maintain.

And so what with cuts and austerity and a struggling council the heartbreaking news that they were going to close the museum was not so much a shock but an expected blow. The museums do relatively cheap activities for the kids and the staff are lovely but the news had already reached me that the staff had been slashed in number over all three council run buildings (two museums and the Guildhall).

This is the museum where Mary left her money baby in the wendy house and the staff went out of their way to return it too us.

So obviously I'm not the only person who feels ill at ease with loosing this local resource and historical gem and a petition was soon up and running - you can sign it here. Since it was started up the Civic Trust have said they will take it on but if that is the case then it is doubtful that they can afford a curator so there would be no one to manage and maintain the collection. Curation is not just about labelling things and putting them in shelf displays - it is also about making sure things are kept in ways that do not damage them - with out a curator then the potential damage is pretty high (mind due the roof leaks so if that is not fixed then the damage will be damn high too).

Added to all this is the fact that historic buildings that are not wanted by the right people tend to go up in flames around here - recently there was three fires in one night - all targeting local old pubs with development issues.

Jokingly me and my friend suggested we might need to make a human shield around the museum - we were only half joking :/ I wish I was rich because I would buy it and fix it and pay the staff and make it free access and have a mini hackspace and little science/education bit in the new building out the back in garden. I'd hold talks in the cafe and stuff like that.

July’s Events (by )

My July events plus any of the regular things I can get to in Gloucester, Cheltenham and Stroud.

Poetry performance - Thursday 6th Come To Where I am From at the Fountain Inn tix are free

Upcycled Headdresses and Accessories - Cornbury Music Festival 7-9th July

Poetry performance - Crypt Slam in Gloucester

Fantasy Headdresses and Accessories Upcylced Workshop and poetry performance with Food For Thoughts - Sat 15th July - Art In The City - Gloucester

Poetry Workshop - Thursday 20th July Villanelles Fountain Inn Gloucester.

Cuddly Science Amazing Archeology and Fabulous Fossils -Sat 22nd July at the Gloucester Cathedral Festival of Archeology

Mary Leakey – The Puppet! (by )

Cuddly Science has a new puppet 🙂 Mary Leakey - an paleoanthropologist who along with various other members of her family and team found alot of the early homonid fossils and moved our understanding of our own evolution on in leaps and bounds.

Mary Leakey the puppet reading one of her favourite books

Mary Leakey was one of my science heroes when I was a teen - during my GCSEs and A'levels I read all the books the library had or could get on her discoveries. And she was in the original list of ten puppets to make for Cuddly Science. My Mum and Dad worked on her mainly in secret for me, knowing I was uber busy with things.

Mary Leakey the puppet with one of her creators Angie Pym

She also doubles as a general geologist, archeologist and explorer! Which is just what I needed with various archeology festivals and geology based workshops coming up this summer!

Sarah Snell-Pym Cuddly Science Cheltenham Science Festival

The puppet was in fact barely finished before it was being whizzed off to the Cheltenham Science Festival to help explain the Cheltenham Hackspace's magic sand box!

Geology Puppet showing off the sand projector

This 3D projector that maps the sand contours in real time and projects and ever updating graded colour system on top was amazing! I do have video but haven't worked out how to extract it from my phone etc...

Geologist puppet is at the sand

We had over 10, 000 kids through the Makers Shack at the festival which was amazing and also exhausting! Mary Leakey and Ada Lovelace both enjoyed their outings and I have a hell of a lot more photos and vids to put up from the festival including trying to launch a robot into near Earth orbit! But for now I shall end with this pic of Mary Leakey chilling and relaxing behind the scenes.

Mary Leakey the puppet chilling behind the scense at the Cheltenham Science Festival

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