All aboard the Science Express

All aboard the Science Express

Science Express’ is a free, monthly, public ‘café scientifique’  forum held on the first Thursday of each month from 6:30-8:00pm and is co-sponsored by Te Papa, GNS Science and the Wellington Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Hamish Campbell

Hamish Campbell

Hamish Campbell, Te Papa’s resident geologist, and a senior scientist at GNS Science, is the founder and MC of this popular event.

As required by the rules governing ‘café scientifique’ protocol, Science Express is held in a café (Espresso Café, Level 4, Te Papa) and no AV (audio-visual) aids are allowed, apart from a microphone. This means that PowerPoint presentations are off limits.

The topic must have a science component and the speaker is allowed a 10 minute Introduction. Then there is a 10 minute recess followed by 60-70 minutes of interaction with the audience whereby the speaker responds to questions and comments from the floor and or chairperson. This tried and tested format makes for a very stimulating event that can be immensely satisfying for the speaker(s) and audience alike. The Introduction is recorded and is placed as a podcast on the Te Papa website.

Science Express is a significant forum in the context of Te Papa because it is a public communication device that enables discussion of contemporary issues and topics with authorities and experts. Permanent standing exhibitions within museums struggle to address the contemporary.

The best way to learn about ‘Science Express’ is to remember that it is always held on the first Thursday of each month (normally from March to November) and that details of what is coming up in terms of topic and speaker(s), are posted on the Te Papa website, along with podcasts of previous sessions at:  Science Express @ Te Papa

Hamish Campbell began his professional career as a paleontologist with the New Zealand Geological Survey in 1978, with specialist interests in Permian, Triassic and Jurassic fossils that are 300-150 million years in age.  But he is best known for his geological research in the Chatham Islands and his role as geologist and science communicator at Te Papa.

He also regularly leads tours to the Chathams, which are an energetic mix of studying the island’s unique geology, meeting some amazing people, and eating good quantities of crayfish and blue cod.

And you can read Hamish’s review of Professor Sir Lloyd Geering’s latest book, itself inspired by Professor Geering’s attendance at a  Science Express event in 2010.