Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Did You know…?

...It was Park View Academy, London, England, the date was 21st March 2015 and the time 5pm...What a turn out and what an event..!

Leeroy Brown - Inventor of the combination Car Jack Pump and
winner of BBC 1's Best Inventor series, speaking to
inventor Trevor Baylis.


Some times as a facilitator of events, one is often too busy to appreciate the magic that happens when things begin to gel! This aptly describes the situation at the aforementioned event!


Well, all set to GO! After final prep and checks, doors opened and guests, audience, participants ushered in and seated with programme and questionnaires sheets in hand. Good to see quite a number of children and differing ages. Always a good sign of things to come. Guest speaker here and present, presenters at the ready Michael, Cindy and Manyonyi,. Not sure of audience expectations except you feel their eyes saying - Amaze Me!!, Dazzle Me!! As more and more people arrive, the smiles on our faces lengthen, adrenalin is pumping; - a few familiar faces but mostly fresh eager new faces looking back at us - deffo good sign!! Anticipation hanging in the air -!!

Lights-camera-Action!! Oops! sorry, wrong set-up!

This was the scene at the science event at Park View School, on the 21st March 2015, sponsored by the Power of Definition and BIS Publications, for the culmination of the UK National Science Week 2015 - from 13th to 21st March 2015.

A very successful event, well attended by people from all over London and some from outside London as well. Including children and the younger adults - future scientists? Why not??

On with the evenings programme- Welcomes and introductions done plus apologies for any delays proffered; running order for the evening presented; quiz explained and running all through the event and so special attention of presentation needed in order to respond to quiz.

That out of the way, the evening started with the introduction by Manyonyi (author of Becoming..! and co-author to book 5) of Michael Williams - CEO BIS Publications, who went ahead to speak about the event and what S.T.E.M. stands for (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). He also introduced new titles published by BIS Publications, including the new book 5 of the - Black Inventors and Scientist series, sub-titled ‘millenniums of inventions and innovations' - leading very well into the video clips of some of the featured scientists.

 Naomie Harris proudly displays her
 copy of  Natasha John-Baptiste's new book.
But before getting into the scientists, BIS Publications launched a new children book- Mosi Meets John Lee Love - the Broken Pencil by author Natasha John-Baptiste. As the author couldn't make it, the presentation was done on her behalf; by both BIS and P.O.D representatives Cindy, Michael & Manyonyi. They read part of the book,talked about the publishing of the series and about the author. It was very well received all round.

BIS & Black Scientists & Inventors then presented two video pieces. The first was that of:

Jon Chase - Astro-biologist, Street Scientist and Hip Hop artist. Jon who features in the BlackScientists & Inventors in the UK (book 5) was invited to the Did You Know, but the invited was a tad too late. Being a BBC Street Scientists and being based in Wales Jon just could not not make it as he had several events he had to attend . He sent his apologies, but he also sent us a special exclusive presentation which he had filmed just for us.

Street Scientists Jon Chase, dropping science.
Jon using the art form of rap though Hip Hops 5th element knowledge conveyed to both young and old what the difference is between Biology and Astro-Biology. Let's remember, music has a way of communicating complicated facts and making it so understandable that both children and lay persons can understand. Rap from Hip Hop culture is arguably the best music form for doing this. Jon went on to show us how science can be fun and how easy it is to experiment and learn by using simple household ingredients. The area of science he explained though practical demonstrations was showing us the difference between an Alkaline, Acid, Base and their Indicators. The children and I must say adults also, loved it!

The second video was from a documentary piece which BIS have been making for the last few years. The piece that was taken out and presented was that of Terry Jervis , entrepreneur and producer at BBC. Terry who also features in the Black Scientists & Inventors in the UK (book 5), talked about how important books and reading is, he said it was books that made him the person that he is today and in particular when he read about great Black Scientists & Inventors it helped develop his imagination and inspire him to followed his dreams, he shared of his journey on how to attain your goals through determination, focus and self belief. This was an eye opener and went down well as this was the running theme for the evening.

Biologist & entrepreneur Ryan Grant
tells us to believe in OURSELVES!
Following a short intermission/break, programme was resumed and in came the surprise, an up and coming new scientist just completing his doctorate and with a bright future in science and it's implications. Following the theme of the evening, Ryan Grant fashion entrepreneur, 1st class Hons Science grad and PhD student went on to give a talk about how he got involved with and what his aims are, after qualifying in his field of genetics. He finished with wonderful and powerful inspiring words to all gathered, about choosing a career in science and encouraged parents to support their young if and when interest was seen. The word for the day - Multifaceted-ness - to be able to do anything that you put your mind to and do it to the best of your ability and with belief and self - determination! Absolutely brilliant presentation!

Yes the gelling was in progress! When all seems lost that's when the real winner shows up with focus, concentration and self belief - (if you want it bad enough!). Ryan's presentation was so uplifting that a voice was heard among the audience saying that they were going to be a scientist! what a result!

After Ryan, there was a short Q & A session where the audience had the chance to ask any questions they wanted of the presenters and presentations so far and boy were the questions rolling!

Manyonyi then came on and re-stated the theme and that we live and breathe science; in everything we do and in fact we are all scientists - our bodies, our cooking, our travel our every day living etc. can all be explained through science. This seemed to hit a chord with the audience and an air of enthusiasm was felt all round the room.

In order to give maximum time available to the main speaker for the evening, the Q&A was shortened and the rest of the time devoted solely to our special guest scientist, serial inventor, featured in the Black Scientists & Inventors in the UK (book 5) and winner of BBC1's Best Inventors series, all the way from Birmingham, Mr. Leeroy Brown (the badest brother in town...you know the song). This was what everyone had been waiting for all evening. Leeroy's invention - The Car Jack and Air Pump.

The audience weren't disappointed and was well worth the wait!! Leeroy fielded questions from personal and business levels and his continued product development and fine tuning. Humble beginnings and not being too focused in school to then discover his potential at technical college and onto trying to make life easier for all of us. He saw a need and then went on to address it by offering a solution.

A brilliant man and exemplary to us all that would want to engage in any type of venture - scientific or otherwise - tenacity, determination, re-inventing oneself as well to meet demands exerted due to market constraints or technological advancement. This was the ultimate presentation and Leeroy had brought with him some of the proto-types of his inventions and still improving! This blew the room up and the questions were continuous- relentless and Leeroy dealt with each and everyone, young and older, cordially and humbly no airs or graces even though he was famous and quite respected around the world.

After Leeroy's presentation and Q&A there were more young people that showed interest in becoming scientists and the parents were quite proud to hear and see this change in their offspring. Job done!

This event was meant to inspire and motivate our future scientists, technologist, engineers and mathematicians on all counts and from the response seen, we as facilitators feel, without a shadow of doubt, that this was achieved.

Roll on next year and we know for sure that there will be new faces and names of new scientists to present to a new audience. Our hope is that sitting amongst us on this day is one of those that will be representing next year. Thank you to all that attended and contributed, helping to make this a most momentous occasion.

Keep asking the questions but more importantly try and be the one answering them.
Watch this space because we are watching you!!

Event Sponsored by: The Power of Definition Arts (POD), Black Scientists & Inventors.com, BIS Publications and British Science Association


Written by Manyonyi Amalemba,
Edited by Michael Williams.
April 2015.