June 23, 2016, by Emma Rayner
Sex, bugs and rock n’roll — University ecologist hits Glastonbury
There’s no shortage of mud at Glastonbury this week so The University of Nottingham’s Open Air Laboratories Community Scientist is in her element bringing soil science and other ecological messages to festival goers. Dr Sarah Pierce from the School of Life Sciences is part of a team of experts from the British Ecological Society taking their roadshow – Sex, Bugs and Rock n’Roll to the world’s most famous rock festival.
Sarah and the BES Roadies team are hosting a new range of attractions in the Green Futures field based on the golden age of British fairgrounds. Among the activities on offer is a ’How Gross is your Festival Kit’ test to grow microbial cultures from swabs from boots, feet and rucksacks with a display of common festival bacteria from a Hall of Shame.
A ‘test your strength’ High Striker has been modified to tempt visitors to use their strength to demonstrate the effect of soil compaction by animals or farm machinery. A worm peep show is giving insights into life below ground with glow in the dark sand revealing the vital work worms do in mixing and aerating our soil.
As well as the high striker and wormery, there is a shooting range where visitors can aim water pistols at a variety of targets – from bare earth and turf to solid concrete – to show what you can do to minimise flooding and soil erosion.
Finally, in a novel take on hook-a-duck, ‘Pick-a-Pollinator’ is challenging festival goers to transfer different-sized velcro balls of ‘pollen’ from one artificial flower to another, showing that pollinators come in all shapes and sizes and some do a much better job than others.
This is the British Ecological Society’s second year at Glastonbury and Sarah says she’s thrilled to be taking part in the festival. “It’s such a great opportunity to bring life sciences to the public and in particular to young people in such a cool and lively environment. The mud and rain is no problem to us and in fact brilliantly demonstrates what happens when the water table rises!”
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