Public Engagement


Observing bees in East London – Pollinator-friendly Gardens

Thanks to extensive media coverage on the plight of bees, most people are aware that many species are under threat from habitat loss and lack of suitable flower resources in which to find nectar and pollen.

Researchers at QMUL will promote the planting of pollinator-friendly gardens in London and encourage interest in the native pollinators through a series of workshops, activities and an interactive website.  The project will begin with a workshop at QMUL to inform members of the public about garden plants that are not just pleasing to the human eye, but also useful resources for flower-seeking pollinators.

Through the workshop and through an online presence participants will learn how to spot specially numbered bumblebees in their gardens, with prizes for those found furthest afield. Near the end of the project, another workshop will be held, where people will be informed of the findings of the project, and feed back on their on their own observations, discussing what flowers they have seeded and planted and how they perceive the ecological benefits that they have helped create.


Child Migrant Voices

The hidden experiences of child migrants to East London from 1930 will be communicated through short films and trailers based on oral histories, drawings, photographs and videos collected as part of a collaborative research project between QMUL’s School of Geography and the V&A Museum of Childhood. 

This will broaden access to the material and stimulate debate about child migration, a neglected area of study, enlivening subsequent archives. The films will be developed in collaboration with former/child migrants who are visual artists, musicians and film directors/editors. BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic), migrant and refugee organisations and interested museums and heritage organisations will be invited to a launch event to help co-design and deliver the project. 

The project will be captured throughout, using a regular blog to showcase video clips, behind the scenes material and to encourage debate. The completed films will then be shown at local events, film festivals and pop up screenings at community venues alongside other related events during summer 2016 to increase awareness about child migration. Interested museums and community stakeholders will be invited to use the material within galleries, exhibitions, art installations, learning programmes, online and at their own events.


Building a community around BeagleRT

This project will build a self-sustaining global community of makers, instrument builders and musicians around BeagleRT. This open-source hardware/software platform was developed through QMUL research for real-time audio processing on embedded hardware, providing interactive music and audio systems that can be embedded inside a musical instrument.

It will target two broad groups, the digital maker community and the musical community through a series of targeted local events, such as hackathons and workshops introducing makers and/or musicians to working with BeagleRT, along with online community support and video demonstrations. These will be matched with a Kickstarter campaign to drive publicity and create further funds to distribute the hardware. 

The four activities constitute a wide and balanced approach to community building, combining online and local approaches. Once established, motivated local communities will help drive online activity and conversely, users engaged online can introduce the platform to their own local collaborators. 

The project aims to create a large, distributed community of hackers, makers and musicians creating novel applications with the BeagleRT hardware and software.


R.A.T. (Rodent Activity Transmission)

Naked Mole Rats (NMRs) are unique among mammals, with unusual features that result from extreme adaptations to living underground. The study of these animals can inform us about more general biological principles of wide importance.

QMUL are about to start tracking a colony of NMRs 24/7, and this project aims to engage the public in this research by presenting the real-time data in a playful, yet informative way using exhibitions, workshops and online technology. 

A series of street art workshops about NMRs that will produce visual interventions across the Queen Mary campus and beyond. The same concepts will reach a wider audience through the R.A.T. app, acting as a direct visualisation and audio visual art work, hosted on a website which contains access to educational information and directions on how to make your own observations from real-time data.

Finally, an art exhibition will enable people to physically encounter data through 'soft robots' – moving sculptures that move in an organic way in response to the live naked mole rat colony. The artworks take the world of data visualisation away from the screen and into the real world.


The Aylesbury Estate as home 

The project involves an exhibition at the Geffrye Museum and symposium about a ‘vilified’ modernist high-rise estate, the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark. It is based on research that is affiliated with the Centre for Studies of Home, a partnership between QMUL and the Geffrye Museum.

The exhibition will involve a series of cases that provide a biography of the Aylesbury Estate through mixed media such as text, sound and photography – from its utopian beginning in the late 1960s, to its decline in the 1980s and current demolition and regeneration. There will also be two artworks, as part of collaboration with artist Nadege Meriau.

The first of these is a metaphorical film about how modernist utopia has been gradually unmade at the estate (and others across Europe).

The second is a dwelling-like sculpture made out of papier mâché bricks that involves artist-led community participation. To facilitate learning, dialogue and creativity, estate residents, architects involved in the regeneration and museum visitors will contribute to the making of the sculpture together, for example, by building this alongside each other in the exhibition space during opening hours.

A symposium will also be organised to explore Home in the Housing Crisis, one of the wider themes of the exhibition.


Muscling in!

Centre of the Cell is a science education centre inside a distinctive orange ‘Pod’ suspended above the biomedical research laboratories of the Blizard Institute. To accompany the visits to the ‘Pod’, the team run a number of schools and family workshops and shows that can be delivered onsite as part of a visit, or out in schools.

In partnership with Dr Suzanne Eldridge of the Centre for Experimental Medicine and Rheumatology, Centre of the Cell will work with four local schools to create and deliver a new school science show, ‘Muscling in!’ to communicate the physiology of the musculoskeletal system of the human body.

The show will cover the ‘muscles and bones’ section of the National Curriculum for Science and will be aimed at pupils in key stage 2 and 3. The pupils taking part in the project will have a real influence and impact on the content and demonstrations in the show.