"Researchers and PhD students of the Water Environment & Infrastructure Resilience (WEIR) and Water Informatics Science & Engineering (WISE) groups of the Water Innovation Research Centre (WIRC@Bath) have recently contributed to the success of the Festival of Nature 2018, which took place in Green Park on the 2nd of June.
With a diverse range of engaging activities, the outreach team of WEIR and WISE managed to capture the audience, which mainly consisted of promising science talent of a wide age range. These activities included displays relating to Catchment Science & Flood Management and Pond Life Microbiology.
As part of the Catchment Science and Flood Management activities, the researchers created a model that highlighted the role that geology and vegetation play in the assimilation capacity of a water system and their contribution in reducing flood risk. As part of the activity, which was originally developed as part of the Bath Taps Into Science Festival, it would ‘rain’ at the top of the catchment’s hills, resulting in the river breaking its banks. The exercise would be repeated with sponges acting as porous ‘vegetation’, to illustrate the relevant effects on the catchment.
Another activity involved the building of an Augmented Reality Sandbox (AR Sandbox). This was built using open-source software from Stanford University and equipment loaned from Computer Science. The AR Sandbox offers a great opportunity to visuliase the geography and geomorphology of an area. During the FON, the audience was encouraged to recreated a scale model of the River Avon, in order to show its impact on the shape of Bath today. This activity was orchestrated as part of the River is the Venue (RiV) project.
The other set of activities organised by the WEIR and WISE groups relate to the observation of the micro-world of a pond. Using a set of handheld microscopes, the participants had the opportunity to have a close look into a whole host of organisms that are crucial to maintaining the health of our waterways. Originally developed as an hour-long school workshop, the activity works well with all ages in and out of the classroom.
As part of the outreach activities, the WEIR and WISE groups also developed of an underwater remotely-operated vehicle (ROV), built using a grant from the University’s Public Engagement Unit. This robot allows users to observe the underwater environment from the comfort of the riverbank or boat and was primarily used to showcase the breath of potential careers for water engineers.
Overall, participating in the Festival of Nature 2018 has been a unique experience for all the WEIR and WISE researchers involved. Outreach activities provide an excellent opportunity to return to the basis of water science and to explore new ways of communication outside of our academic walls."
- Dr Chrysoula Papacharalampou, Research Associate, Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, University of Bath