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The University of Reading – sparking off interest in science

Release Date 26 August 2009

Ever wondered why birds have different beaks and how fossils are made? Which issues do today's film and tv programmes raise about adaptation? Well the University of Reading has teamed up with the British Science Association to offer two fascinating and fun events, which will explore adaptation and natural selection.

On Saturday 5 September, the University's Cole Museum of Zoology is the exciting setting for three children's sessions. Through a series of games and interactive activities, youngsters will enjoy hearing about how our bodies become resistant to antibiotics and how animals have survived by changing to become better suited to their environment.

As well as being inspired by the Cole Museum's fabulous collection, children can take on the role of different birds to find out why their beaks have had to adapt to their surroundings. Another of the activities will use large maps of the world to explore how animals have adapted to survive in different environments.

On Sunday 6 September, Reading Global Café is the venue for an afternoon of 'sciSCREEN'. Patrons to the popular town centre venue will be able to enjoy an afternoon of TV, documentaries and film all relating to evolution adaption and genetic modification. Individual episodes of popular TV programmes such as Futurama and Heroes will be shown, and the blockbuster movie Gattica will end the day's entertainment. In-between showings and at the end of the evening, the audience will be encouraged to discuss issues raised by what they've seen, which is guaranteed to lead to some lively debate!

The two events are being held in conjunction with the British Science Festival, one of Europe's largest celebrations of science. The Festival is organised by the British Science Association and is taking place in Guildford this year.

Dr Lucy Chappell, University of Reading Research Communications Manager and Chair of the Thames Valley Branch of BSA is attending both events, and will be available to answer any questions. She said: "The University is very proud to be contributing to the British Science Festival. We have scientists taking part in the main festival programme at the University of Surrey and are also holding these two events in Reading. We are very fortunate that the festival organisers have agreed to let us run these events in Reading for our local community.

"Science affects our everyday lives, and so it is hugely important that science is accessible to everyone. Organising events like these helps enormously. We hope to inspire young minds with the activities in the Cole Museum. The afternoon at the Global Café promises to be extremely interesting too. sciSCREEN is a great way of bringing together people from a range of backgrounds to think and talk about science-related issues which affect society."

From bacteria to beaks to beaches, the who, what, where and why of Adaption, will be held over three sessions on Saturday 5 September, at the Cole Museum of Zoology on the University of Reading's Whiteknights Campus

11.00 – 12.30, ages 7-11

12.30 - 14.00, ages 7-11

14.00 – 15.30, ages 11-14

Tickets cost £3, please phone 020 7019 4947 or visit www.britishsciencefestival.org to book.

sciSCREEN is a free drop-in event. It takes place on Sunday 6 September at the RISC Global Café, 35-39 London Street, Reading, RG1 4PS, and will feature:

15.00: Darwin Tree of Life

16.15: Futurama (Leela's Homeworld

17.00: Heroes, Episode 1, Season 1

18.00: Gattaca – (rated 15)

For more information please visit www.britishscienceassociation.org/thamesvalley

Ends

For more information please contact James Barr, University of Reading Press Office on 0118 378 7115 or by email on j.w.barr@reading.ac.uk

Notes for Editors:

The British Science Festival will be in Surrey from 5-10 September, bringing over 350 of the UK's top scientists and engineers to discuss the latest developments in science with the public. In addition to talks and debates at the University of Surrey, there will be a host of events throughout the county showcasing the innovation of scientific Surrey. Visit www.britishscienceassociation.org/festival to search the programme online, book tickets and find out more. Also, to check for the most up-to-date information on what's happening, discover the latest news from the British Science Festival team and enjoy plenty of comment and discussion on the latest Festival topics from guest bloggers who are taking part visit www.britishsciencefestival.wordpress.com/

The Thames Valley Branch of the British Science Association aims to bring local people and communities closer to science. The Thames Valley Branch is supported by the University of Reading. For more information please visit www.britishscienceassociation.org/thamesvalley

The University of Reading's Cole Museum of Zoology

The skull of a Tasmanian wolf and a fossil of an ichthyosaurus marine reptile are just two of the 4000 specimens that will enthral you at the University's oldest museum. The museum illustrates the relationship between form and function in the animal kingdom and houses one of Britain's most important zoological collections. Spectacular highlights include complete skeletons of a male Indian elephant, a killer whale, a five metre reticulated python and a pair of giant spider crabs.

The University of Reading is ranked as one of the UK's top research-intensive universities. The quality and diversity of the University's research and teaching is recognised internationally as one of the top 200 universities in the world.

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