Saturday, 18 June 2016

Books!

On the 5th of this month of June I visited Keele University for a CLEAPSS health and safety course. Afterwards I visited their on campus Blackwells book store not really expecting or needing any new books. However, so much great literature on offer. I couldn't help but buy these beauties.



So thats my summer reading taken care of! :D

Friday, 27 May 2016

Book Review:Saving Bletchley Park by Dr Sue Black OBE

I read this gem of a book 2 weekends ago but have had precious little time to write about it so now I'm making time. Especially as I recieved the book in January and told Sue Black it would be the first book I read this year LOL. I have kept my promise, it IS the first book I have read this year so far. Its been such a busy year so far though. Here is a picture of me taken 1st January with this marvellous book.


I have been following Dr Sue Black on Twitter for a few years now so I know how much she loves Bletchley Park and all she has done for it. I have even visited the park myself 2 easters in a row 2014 and 2015. So there was no way I wasn't going to buy this book and I have been excited about reading it. So I read it in about 11 hours over the course of 2 days. If I had to describe it in one word I would say it is 'unputdownable' and I really mean that! From Start to finish you are on a journey with Sue, from how she got the ball rolling by emailing as many heads of computing departments as she could think of to learning that Bletchley Park was saved and the focus now being on maintaining it. This is a real demonstration of what passion and determination can achieve. Sue gets you emotionally involved and I found myself rooting for her every step of the way. You can learn alot about BP from just reading this book as well as a little about the key people involved, and if I hadn't already been I'm sure this piece of fine literature would make me want to go. Saving Bletchley Park gives you an insight into how the codebreakers managed to shorten and help win WWII, so the importance of BP really can't be stressed enough!
I know others have said this but it is so true that this is also a prime illustration of how to use Social Media as a force for good.
I am proud to have supported the publication of this book in my own small way and to have my name listed among the Murrays in the back of it :) Thanks Sue.












I can tell you this won't be gathering much dust on my shelf.
So if you only read one book this year, make sure its this one. I look forward to Sue's next book.
Long live Bletchley Park!
Love Sarah xxx

Friday, 20 May 2016

Chernobyl, a commemorative event

Volunteering at last years Manchester Science Festival, the highlight was the Chernobyl installation. I loved it so jumped at the chance to volunteer at this Aprils PI event when I found out what it was! PI (Platform of Investigation) is a once monthly even where scientists/researchers can spend a weekend sharing their work and knowledge with the public at MOSI. On Saturday 23rd April and Sunday 24th April, this was about Chernobyl and coincides to mark the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear facility explosion which is next to the Ukraine town of Pripyat. I know what I was doing on this day as 26th April 1986 also happens to be my aunt and uncle's wedding anniversary! Happy 30th to them! I was excited to volunteer for both days and also enjoyed the company of other volunteers I know and see regularly here.

http://aboutmanchester.co.uk/featured/chernobyl-is-open-for-virtual-visits/





Here I am modelling what is now the official MOSI volunteer t-shirt.



Like all of the PI events this one also took place on the ground floor of the main building at our MOSI. This is the first PI event I have voluteered at and I hope to do more in the future.


On this table you can see some VR cardboard headsets which we had to show people whilst they waited to use the oculus rift. They use your smartphone and we were more than happy to demo this, folks seemed impressed especially the kids. 



Here is a volunteer looking through oculous rift. I had the chance to have a go myself at the end of the day on Sunday. It really is amazing to see the footage from Chernobyl which the scientists had shot and put together like this. 
Here you can see people queuing up and also listening to the Chernobyl scientist from Salford university, Dr Mike Wood. This event started at 10.30am and Mike had flown straight in from Chernobyl that very morning! He was very chatty and passionate and interesting and carried on talking to people after the event was supposed to have finished at 4pm. The other scientists were his PhD studenst and they had all visited Chernobyl. Later in the day one of them told me that Mike was a machine LOL. I certainly want to maintain my bounce like has :)




These 3 images above show footage from various areas of Chernobyl showing the abandoned areas, plant and wild life whch is present now.  More scientists with headsets ready to show people. The footage used to make the oculus rift VR was shot with a 360 degree camera and there was one here to show people. The aim of this event is to make people aware of how Chernobyl is now and that there are in fact a diverse range of plants and animals living here. The radiation effects would have a greater effect on humans which is why nobody lives here but the population density in this country is so low that there is no necessity for anyone to occupy this area. I also learned that whilst there is DNA damage in those animals living there it is not paased along generations. Due to predation no animal lives long enough to see if they will get sick anyway. Interesting...Thank you Salford for a great weekend event and to the MOSI staff for looking after us so well as usual. Mike is such a nice guy and he sent an email around thanking the volunteers as did Rosie from MOSI. Pleased to have done this, it was a joy and always good to find out from the experts. Till next time xxx




Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Wear it! Festival

This mini festival was a weekend of exploring the world of wearable technology and it took place on Saturday12th and Sunday 13th March. I volunteered for both days sporting a plain but bright yellow t-shirt which I got to keep.

This event of course took place in our Museum of Science and Industry on the ground floor of the main building (Great Western Warehouse) from 10am until 4pm. There was plenty to see and do, it was fab. It was so nice to hear all visitors I spoke to say how good it was. A wearable technology festival conjours up images of blood pressure and heart monitors. Smartphone accessories, running monitors such as Fitbit and Garmin. Whilst this is true I was surprised that there was nothing like that here. It didn't even get mentioned. Lets now checkout all the wonderful stuff there was to see!
In the Textiles Gallery, there were a few things going on and I spent alot of time in here with great pleasure. The highlight was a workshop where you can sew an LED into a tote bag with a circuit board design. It was very popular and the seats filled up easily. This didn't stop myself and another volunteer from showing of the totes to visitors hoping to garner further interest. If I remember correctly, we ran out bags in the end anyway!

Also in the textiles gallery you could make a pair of 3D glasses from card and red and blue filters then look at these images.

Also there were some amazing 3D printing pens and I watched people print a selection of nice things. I want one! The are around £100 each.


This photo shows a police vest with the latest Kevlar technology and also here you could try out a virtual reality headset, Oculus Rift and travel around the world. I had a go, it was set to take us to Paris which I have yet to visit in person. It was fantastic and I asked what the app was as all you need for this is your smartphone. The app is Googlecard board and you can buy a cardboard headset from Amazon for £10. I am now the proud owner of a VR headset myself and have enjoyed visiting my favourite places.
Looking outside from this gallery into the main area you can see we had a marquee. There's a team of performers who can do impressive moves with LED laden hoola hoops and visitors could have a go themselves.




                                  In this last picture on the right you can see our Minecraft area. I was unaware as to what this game was never mind its great popularity especially amongst the young ones.



This photo n the left shows the main area where we had a soldering workshop where kids could make their own badge and learn to solder. It proved very popular and I helped to manage the queue. Even though we ran out bulbs everyone was happy! We hope visitors enjoyed this event and went away with a greater awareness of the uses and applications of wearable technology. I am glad I volunteered. Thank you MOSI xxx

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Light Fantastic Festival January 2016

This festival took place from Friday 22nd January until Sunday 24th January at MOSI, and I was there as a volunteer.  I did 2 sessions the first being Friday evening which was a Light Fantastic LED disco. Initally I was on the front desk which I'd never done before so that was cool. Basically, it was meet and greet, taking tickets and handing out drinks vouchers. There were hundreds of glowsticks to give out too and whilst we wore some ourselves we were amazed at the creativity of the attendees. The disco went on until 10pm and there was a band which included a saxophone which glowed in all colours. That was something to see. At 10pm myself and another volunteer stood on the doors with buckets of sweets to entice people out lol. It was a great night and we all shared 2 taxis home. Although I had taken my camera I didn't actually have it physically on me so sadly I never got any photo's of this event. It was a great night I shall remember though. What a coincidence that a girl who works at the same place as me should be there! There was an installation at MOSI all weekend which completely amazed and entranced everyone including me. I got a few pix of that :) It was essentially a cube of lamps which on closer inspection I was stunned to see where only plastic disposable cups.Amazing! Each person is given a tablet which has a programme on it which controls the lights. Each tablet controls a different colour. You sweep your finger over the tablet to choose the direction of the light. When it hits a light of a different colour then you hear a chime. It is just a soft and gentle chime but could get quite melodious. It was lovely. As well as a few pix I managed to film it on my iphone.Apologies for the voices which seem to drown out the chimes abit. Still I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. I think I managed to capture it well.



                                                   This is what it looked like when switched off >>



Saturday and Sunday were pretty much alike and I hear it was very busy on Saturday. My second stint was all day Sunday. The PI had a vew things to see on the ground floor and to begin with the scientists on each stall were kind enough to tell me what they were doing. I got to see some moon rocks and meteorite which you can look at under a microscope. Also in the centre was a gaming area including Minecraft. I still don't know, which is stupid of me, what that has to do with light. I did learn something though. There were a group from Life Sciences Department who had an analyser worth £35k with them for looking at leaves to see which wavelength is most effective at photosynthesis. Like most people I took it for granted that plants use white light for this. It turns out that this is not the case, they actually prefer pink light. I was amazed but pleased to have learned something I didn't know before.  My final photo is of this platform. 


On this day I spent some of the morning here and some over at the power hall helpingkids make pinhole cameras out of orange cardboard rolls, back paper, duct tape, pins and lights. Then I was meet and greet for the Planetarium which sold out in record time which mean't that for the most part I was turning people away. This was the same story later on when I was in the temporay exhibit area. There were a few things going on there including face painting and making music with a laser beam. I just walked around seeing what was going on and directing people to the toilets. I was on queue control at the end though for the Light Graffiti eent which was ran by an outgoing guy who seemed to be having the time of his life. Then we all tidied up and that was the end. We finished around 5pm and I had managed to buy 2 pendants for myself at lunchtime from the gift shop. And we get to keep our hoodies :D Thank you to all who visited and to the MOSI staff for their great support. You make us want to help and I enjoyed it as usual.  I hope to see you all again in March for the Wearable Technology Festival. Love Sarah xxx 




Saturday, 9 January 2016

Saturday, 2 January 2016

My review of 2015. Part 2: July-December

July: Early this month 7th/8th I was delighted to recieve a phonecall from HR offering me the role at Withington Girls School I'd interviewed for last week. I accepted without hesitation and was and am still happy. So later on this month I handed in my notice at Bury College. Goodbye long commutes. Also eary this month I bought a new phone. An iphone 6. This is my first iphone and friends kept telling me I would never look back once I had one of these. How right they are, I am still loving it. They maybe expensive but worth it. I hpe to hang onto this particular model for some years yet! On the 19th of July something amazing happened. I recieved a long email offering me membership on the Board of Scientific Advisors for The Rutger Hauer Starfish Association  Of course I accepted as I love this organisation. I was very happy and floating on a cloud for a few days. It still makes me smile and guess always will. This is definiely a great highlight of the year for me. I then also accepted another wonderful opportunity which will probably be a one off. From Monday 27th until Sunday 2nd August I lived on a boat on the italian Island of Ischia doing whale research. I have blogged about it. A beautiful experience I shall remember fondly but never got to see enough cetaceans ;)
 August: My trip of the year with 3 other fab volunteers came to an end on the 2nd. Nothing else exciting happened this month. I finished working at Bury College on 20th.
September: The first of this month saw me excited and a little nervous to be starting my new job at Withington Girls School. The first day was an induction day and it turns out there were 16 newbies including me. It was interesting and all newbies are lovely people, also including me lol. It didn't take long for me to feel like I've worked there a long time and I mean this in the nicest way possible. Everyone who works here is lovely and we get a nice free lunch everyday. There is even a gym on site too which is also free. All of our girls are nice and clever girls. This school does alot of outreach and feild trips to places within the UK such as Wales and internationally by volunteering in developing countries such as Uganda and Gambia. I will probably volunteer to go to Uganda next year. On Sunday 13th I went along to MOSI for a coffee morning for returning science festival volunteers. Enjoyed it alot and now know who the returning volunteers like myself are. It was good to meet our new coordinator Pen whom I saw alot of during the science festival.
On Wednesday 30th, we had a visit from the Duchess of Gloucester who came to open our new chemistry labs. I expected a hello and or a wave and a smile at the most but she shook my hand and stood chatting for abit. She took her time and spoke to us all. So down to earth as were the people who came with her. She was lovely and we were all chuffed and happy after seeing her.
October: The hightlight of this month for me is always the Manchester Science Festival and I enjoyed it as always. I got to make several visits to Salford University this year and meet more lovely volunteers whom I can only hope to meet again in the future. I have also blogged about each event I worked at on the science festival. 22nd October until Sunday 1st November.
November: There are alot of events going on at MOSI next year. I am not sure why but I do know that our science festival will be 10 years old and so the festival will be even more special. All I know is that a special event devoted to graphene is planned :) Anyway this month I committed to 2 mini science festivals which take place in late January, early February 2016. Looking forward to that too. On the 30 which was a Monday we had a school trip with our GCSE students to The Palace Theatre in Manchester. Science Live!This was a series of talks by well known scientists including Alice Roberts, Andrea Sella, Sir Robert Winston to name just a few! A fab day and nice way to end a month!
December: The first always special to me as it is World AIDS Day and I wore my red ribbon as usual and enjoyed the heartwarming feeling of reading online messages and comments from friends and contacts.
On a personal note, we acquired a new home.Very exciting! We signed the contracts on Thursday before Xmas and then got the keys the folowing Tuesday. Naturally we went and had a look around. Everyday except Xmas and New Years Days we made 2 trips per day moving stuff including one day when buldeirs came with our new bedroom furniture and assembled it for us. I felt bad about them not finishing till Midnight! It took longer than the xmas holidays to move everything and I don't feel like I have had a rest. Glynn and I are both exhausted but very happy.Can't wait to actually move in.

I haven't read any books this year because I discovered free online courses so I still read and learned alot I guess. I did this with Future Learn and boy does the time go when doing thses. I covered subjects such as Food safety, the constellation Orion, science of nutrtion and Internet of things. I will miss these in 2016 but want to spend next year catching up on my reading. On NYE I finally recieved my copy of Saving Bletchley Park by Dr Sue Black. A book whose publication I helped fund and thus my name is listed in it at the back. Imagine by surprise and delight when I first go on Twitter today and the first thing I see is that Sue has been awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours list! I couln't be more thrilled for her and what a way to end the year.

So to summarize, the highlights for me are seeing Queen in Concert, changing jobs and homes, joining the Chemists Without Borders and Starfish teams, Whale research in Italy. I hope 2016 is also a good one for me and for you too. Love Sarah xxx

 
     



I am grateful for any feedback and comments. Thanks for reading and don't be a stranger xxx