Bristol plays a starring role online
Press release issued: 4 October 2004
Bristol University has played a key role in the planning and production of online learning resources to accompany BBC One's new flagship series called British Isles: A Natural History.
In partnership with the University of the West of England, Bristol University secured a prestigious contract to work with the BBC and the Open University to devise innovative ways of building on the interest sparked in viewers by this and other major productions about natural history and the environment. The University's contribution to the joint bid for the contract was led by Professor Angela McFarlane of the Graduate School of Education and staff from the School of Biological Sciences and the Department of Earth Sciences.
Interactive web-based material complementing the programmes and maximising their educational value is one of the outcomes of the venture.
Web content for the series, focusing on the science explored in the programme, was developed by two University Research Assistants, Becky Seeley and Adam Stuart Smith, and can be found at www.open2.net/naturalhistory/how.html
The pages, under the headline Scientists - How do they know that?, are written so that the latest research and most expert knowledge is made available to a wide audience in an easily understandable form.
People can explore the nature of the Earth itself in Dynamic Earth; find out how scientists turn into detectives when they uncover the secrets that fossils have kept hidden for millennia in Palaeobiology; and learn how the tiniest creature can cause catastrophic consequences when it turns up in the wrong location in Invaders.
At the launch in Bristol of the 'British Isles' series, John Willis, Director of BBC Factual and Learning Programmes, praised the 'fantastic web content' developed by the partners.
Professor Patricia Broadfoot, Pro Vice-Chancellor at Bristol University, said: 'We are proud to be part of an exciting project. It's all about inspiring people to want to learn more through discovering what an amazing country the British Isles is.'
Frank Burnet, UWE's Professor of Science Communication, who is involved in the project, added: 'When people watch these programmes it often sparks an interest in science and the natural environment. We want to make the most of that spark and recruit people onto science based courses - particularly the environment where more students are needed.
'The aim is that the additional material on the website will be the beginning of a learning pathway and will encourage viewers to take their interest further. The science expertise of the University of Bristol and UWE is a winning combination.'
The University of Bristol in association with UWE won the contract against stiff competition - they beat 33 other universities. In order to win the contract they had to deliver presentations to a panel of representatives from the BBC, the Open University and The Natural History Museum.
The team at the heart of the initiative is:
Professor Mike Benton (Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Head of the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol), Professor Paul Hayes, Professor of Biology and Head of the School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol), Dr Jane Memmott (Senior Lecturer in Terrestrial Ecology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol), Professor Angela McFarlane (Professor of Education, University of Bristol), Dr Julian Partridge, ( Reader in Zoology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol), Professor Frank Burnet (UWE), Anne Stevens (Open University), Dominic Graveson (BBC Worldwide, Interactive Learning), Michael Brodbin (BBC Worldwide, Producer, Interactive Learning).
The University of Bristol has a longstanding connection with the BBC Natural History Unit.
Frank Burnet heads up UWE's Graphic Science Unit, which has won awards for its science communication activities.