I’m a scientist and the Boomtown Rats are here

Confused by the title? I’m not surprised. I’m a little confused myself. Though this is a common experience in science and nothing to be ashamed of.

Boomtown Rats CDs

I was thinking about the Boomtown Rats since I was using their celebrated second album, A Tonic for the Troops, to keep me running around Hyde Park in the warm sunshine last Monday afternoon. More often than not I use music these days to help drive myself along. And as I plodded, I was thinking to myself, “You know, this really is good stuff. I’ll bet there’s plenty of people younger than a certain age who have never heard of them”.

That really is the way I think. But I digress…

The Rats’ peculiar brand of nihilistic hedonism matched the mood of my teenage years back in the very early eighties (though this probably gives an entirely mis-leading impression of what I was like then). Funnily enough, it still seems to suit the lifestyle of a wizened academic. So I thought I might send out a tweet after I got back (and dried off) — explaining that people should start at the third album, The Fine Art of Surfacing, and work back through albums two and one.

After Surfacing, it took the Rats three more and rather indifferent albums to realise that the ship had sunk. But that should not take away from the musical and lyrical genius of their first three recordings.

I then realised I wouldn’t be able to fit all that into 140 characters. Plus, when I got back, waiting in my pigeon-hole was the information pack from the guys organising the I’m a Scientist, Get me Out of Here event that I have signed up for. It’s being run by a company called Gallomanor, with funding from the Wellcome Trust and they seem to be a pretty professional bunch.

Info Pack

The pack, served up in a bright pink folder, gives us a heads up on how to prepare to engage with the schoolkids that we’ll be talking to online. Our first job is to fill out a profile, to give the students an idea of who they are dealing with. There are some really tough questions to answer:

  • How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
  • Who is your favourite singer or band?
  • What is the most fun thing you’ve ever done?
  • If you had 3 wishes for yourself, what would they be? Be honest!
  • What did you want to do after you left school?
  • Were you ever in trouble at school?
  • What’s the best thing you’ve done as a scientist?
  • Tell us a joke

You see? No easy feat. You can check out my answers — which are very much a work in progress — on my burgeoning profile page. Feel free to make suggestions. Perhaps surprisingly, given what I’ve said above, the Boomtown Rats didn’t make the cut in my answer to question 2.

I gather this goes live for teachers early next week. I guess the school students will cotton on to it soon after that, though the event itself doesn’t start for about a fortnight.

It’s all starting to get a bit… real.


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5 Responses to I’m a scientist and the Boomtown Rats are here

  1. steffi suhr says:

    Heh – you’re nervous!

  2. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Stephen, perhaps you’re just the man to tell me why I don’t like Mondays. There has to be a scientific explanation (but you won’t get it into a top-tier journal without the mechanism…).

  3. Stephen Curry says:

    @steffi – This is only the beginning… but I imagine it’ll be fine once I get started. Or at least I hope it will. ;-/
    @Jenny – {Uh-oh. Another American who doesn’t like Mondays.} OK. Slowly now. Put the gun down. Everything’s going to be all right. Easy now.
    The obvious explanation is that Mondays are almost never as good as the weekend!

  4. Ian Brooks says:

    I can’t remember which blogger it was but she recently attended a seminar about engaging with ‘the new generation” (GenY, or Millenials, whatever it is). the biggest turn on for the kids when being taught was a teacher who was passionate about their work and helped the students understand that passion. They know that they can “learn anything off the internet”, so they need to know *why* it is important.

  5. Stephen Curry says:

    I’ll do my best Ian. I think what appeals most to the kids is that they get to interact directly with scientist which otherwise they would never be able to do.
    T minus 12 days….

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