Science Communication

From the very beginning of my time as a postgraduate student I have experienced the pleasures and pressures of a research and teaching driven institute and understand the necessity and complementarity of both. I have been repeatedly credited for my teaching excellence and am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

In my professional capacity as a teacher I have engaged students ranging significantly in age; from six years old to mature adults and have repeatedly travelled to teach internationally, though not yet at the level of higher education. In my academic capacity I have taught students with a multitude of educational backgrounds: from the general public, to GCSE/A-levels, to undergraduate, to Masters students. I have taught in large classes of more than fifty and I have given personal tutoring to individuals. I have had to constantly adapt my style of teaching to fit my surroundings which change frequently: sometimes a classroom, a playground, a laboratory, a campsite, a lecture hall or even a theatre stage.

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Flavour SenseNation; The Big Bang Science Fair (2015)

The Wellcome Trust funded event; Flavour SenseNation was part of the 2015 Big Bang Science Fair taking place at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. This was an incredible experience for engaging a young public audience on the subject of science. We incorporated many practical (and edible) activities into our teaching that explored taste, smell, hearing, touch and sight.

 

Later that year, I worked with Flavour SenseNation as a Juniour Researcher; visiting schools to deliver more exciting scientific ideas to school kids.

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In November 2013, several professors from across the University of Warwick hosted a symposium of exciting outreach talks intended to inspire and educate a young audience on modern scientific concepts at the level of higher education.

 

The opening lecture, presented by Dr Gavin Morley, was titled ‘Making the impossible possible with quantum computers’. It is certainly no easy task attempting to teach complex ideas about quantum mechanics to fourteen year olds; one must employ an element of theatricality.

 

Dr Morley sought the collaborative efforts of two actors to better illustrate the paradoxical concept of Schrodinger’s Cat. With myself playing the part of Schrodinger and actress Rebecca Bailey assuming the role of the cat, we performed a short sketch to accompany Dr Morley’s narration.

 

The sudden implementation of an eye-catching, interactive element midway through the lecture had an enormous impact on the audience: grabbing their attention by giving them something new to look at. The feedback unanimously described how enjoyable the performance had been and how imaginatively it portrayed complex ideas.

 

An excerpt from the performance can be seen here.

Fool's Gold (2010-11)

Whilst my performance for the Physics Christmas Lectures revolved around themes of higher education, I have performed on other occasions for the sole purpose of audience engagement and mental provocation. These performances are less specific to academic teaching but have involved a great deal of interdisciplinary collaboration and conceptualisation.

 

In 2010/11 the Warwick Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning (IATL) ‘student as producer (performance) project’ funded a student written play titled Fool’s Gold; exploring the theme of organ donation and issues with public perception. Working with a group of actors and actresses, we performed both at the University of Warwick and in the Edinburgh Fringe festival (2011), with support from the Freshblood theatre society.

 

Written and directed by Rosie Lyne

Set and costume design: Isobel Power Smith

Dr Timothy J Kaufmann

All content within this portfolio is © 2016 by Tim Kaufmann.

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