Sunday 10 September 2017

Environmental outreach meets arty crafty

To be absolutely honest, I don't think I'm remotely qualified to be either an outreach worker or an artist, but when has Old Tense ever let factual accuracy have any sort of bearing on blogpost output!

Yesterday, Saturday, saw the Family Day at the Orkney International Science Festival. Not having ever attended a Science Festival event (family weddings have seemed to coincide with the Festival these past few years), I wasn't sure quite what to expect.

It's safe to say that there were lots of hands-on science experiments, being demonstrated by enthusiastic science-y folk, from molecules to the Milky Way, and I can tell you're wondering where I fit into this, aren't you?

Well, it could probably be said that, to some extent, I have pushed dragonflies and damselflies up the Orcadian agenda this year, so it was pretty much inevitable that I would be 'volunteered' on the Orkney Field Club stand to do something Odonata-ry for the Science Festival. Live specimens of aquatic larvae or flying adults certainly weren't an option, so I decided to go with the pipe cleaner vibe, as trialled on Graemsay recently.

A fellow Field Club member, Helen, kindly volunteered to help me, so we spent the day sitting on tiny chairs, fashioning all manner of weirdly-hued dragons from a few pipe cleaners. I say 'a few', but I reckon the visitors to the stand helped us make over 150 reasonably anatomically-correct dragons. With two contrasting colours for the body (maximising the stripey effect) and two white pipe cleaners for the fore and hind wings, plus the addition of a pair of pony beads (wtf are they?) for eyes, the kaleidoscopic possibilities were numerous. Pink and purple were a big hit, probably reflecting some gender stereotyping that had befallen our diminutive clientele, but I thought it best just to go with the flow and not become to proscriptive about the physiology of my favourite insect group.

The calm before the storm

"Have I mentioned that they eat midges?"

Forget Red Bull, Helen and Graeme can give you wings!

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