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APEX Public Engagement Grant Projects funded in 2020

We have provided grants of up to £10,000 to APEX Award holders to run exciting and innovative public engagement activities based on their APEX Award projects. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about public engagement or any of the projects.

Projects funded in 2020

Red vs grey squirrels
Smart care dilemmas
The effect of explosives on heritage sites
Lab XX
Helping autistic children develop social skills through theatre and wearable technology

Red vs grey squirrels in Great Britain: the importance of diet

Dr Philip Cox - University of York

A red squirrel Dr Philip Cox's project explores squirrels' eating habits

Dr Philip Cox’s project will explore the differences between the red and grey squirrels that live in Great Britain, and will uncover the reasons for the dramatic decline of the native red squirrel population over the last 150 years.

The team will run a series of school workshops involving interactive group activities to investigate the potential competition between the two species and identifying where red squirrels still exist in the parts of the UK today, to help students increase their understanding of the wildlife on their doorstep. 

“By doing this, we aim to foster a deeper understanding of the the interaction between these two species, which we hope will lead to better appreciation of the conservation strategies currently being enacted to preserve red squirrels in Great Britain and the important role the public can play in supporting these efforts.”

Smart care dilemmas

Professor Christine Hine – University of Surrey

An older person using an ipad Smart Care Dilemmas facilitates conversations about the ethics of using smart care technologies to support safer independent living

Professor Christine Hine’s research focuses on the ethical dilemmas that arise in smart care initiatives. The team hope that by facilitating conversation around these concerns, they can build better support for decision making with participants that use and manage these technologies on a day-to-day basis.  

“Smart care technologies have a huge potential to support safer independent living for those experiencing conditions such as dementia. Implementing these technologies involves potential for ethical dilemmas to arise around such issues as privacy, autonomy and algorithmic decision making.”

The group will develop educational materials, including an informative video exploring the issues that arise when choices are made about technology and care, and the impact of these decisions. They will present these resources at a range of events to foster further discussion between care recipients and their families as well as professional care providers and organisations advocating these audience groups

The effect of explosives on heritage sites

Dr Lisa Mol – University of the West of England

A shattered stone hovering over a hand Explosive damage to heritage sites can invisibly weaken stones

Dr Lisa Mol (UWE Bristol), Dr Emma Cunliffe (Newcastle University) and Dr Charlotte Brassey (Manchester Metropolitan University) look at the impact of modern explosives on historical and culturally important heritage sites in conflict zones. Using tools and techniques to examine the subsurface or ‘invisible’ damage that weakens stone on these sites, the team helps to assess whether original materials can be safely reused in reconstruction. 

“We integrate material science, imaging, archaeology, and architecture with remote damage assessment methods (satellite imagery), collaborating with international partners in Egypt and Yemen, where many sites are at risk, to conduct damage extent analysis.”

Through a series of online workshops, the team aim to provide support and training to their partners in Yemen and Egypt working in heritage protection. They also plan to engage school children and the public with hands on activities exploring the scientific methods used in their research to raise awareness for the various ways in which heritage can be destroyed.

Lab XX

Dr Jennifer Leigh – University of Kent

A cheerful woman scientist Dr Leigh's team are using innovative methods to encourage young women to consider science as a career

Dr Jennifer Leigh and the team are establishing LAB XX to engage students with science in areas with low socioeconomic status. Using innovative spaces of exploration and open discussion, they aim to encourage young women to consider science as an exciting and attainable career choice.

“We will work with this group in small participatory creative and reflective workshops to create a space that facilitates dialogue around the ambitions, motivations, barriers and challenges associated with entering scientific education and pursuing a career in science.”

Through online YouTube and YouTube360° channels and local workshops, the team will showcase women working in science, create immersive ‘behind the scenes’ lab experiences and provide a platform for discussion between students and scientists in their local area.

Helping autistic children develop social skills through theatre and wearable technology

Dr Jamie Ward – Goldsmith’s, University of London

a group of performers standing in a circle with their arms outstretched sideways seen from above The benefits of theatre-based experiences for autistic children are explored using wearable technology. Image credit Dr J.Ward

Dr Jamie Ward’s research explores the importance of interpersonal synchrony - how we coordinate and move together in time - in our daily social interactions and early stages of development. Using wearable sensors to characterise social behaviour, the team will run a series of theatre and science performances for autistic and early-years primary school children and their families and record engagement data from participants.

“There is evidence that children can benefit from theatre-based activities in early years, with knock-on effects in developing their communication skills and learning. The project should demonstrate the importance of theatre as a social good, how wearable technology can facilitate this demonstration, and how, together, theatre and technology can help us understand the underlying mechanisms of social development.”

The performances will be used as a platform for open discussion on the science behind the work and how the data recorded is interpreted and used, gathering new insights into the mechanisms and applications of social interaction in theatre.  

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