University brings the secrets of the ocean to life for school pupils

More than 1,000 South Yorkshire schoolchildren were given a unique opportunity to experience life under the sea as part of an annual Christmas time lecture hosted by the University of Sheffield.

School children at Octagon

‘Ocean Quest’, held at the Octagon auditorium on Thursday (1 December 2016) took youngsters on a fascinating journey to meet the weird and wonderful creatures which inhabit the ocean. This event forms part of the University’s commitment to bring its world-class research to life to inspire the next generation of scholars.

As part of the day, the Octagon stage was transformed into the seashore with a rock pool filled with anemones, starfish, and hermit crabs to investigate as part of the interactive science lesson.

The budding scientists learnt why sharks are top predators, met jellyfish to see how they avoid being eaten and discovered that corals are part animal part plant.

“To see so many children so engaged and excited about science is very rewarding.”

dr penny watt, department of animal and plant sciences

Children measured out the length of a blue whale and found out how whale songs can travel thousands of miles in the ocean.

Dr Penny Watt, from the University’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, who presented this year’s lecture, said: “It was a wonderful event which brought the secrets of the ocean to life in a really imaginative way.

“The highlight for me was the Octagon being plunged into darkness before the sight of youngsters waving hundreds of glow sticks to demonstrate how some animals deep at the bottom of the sea can produce their own light.

“To see so many children so engaged and excited about science is very rewarding.”

The lecture culminated in the appearance of a full sized (14m long) model of a colossal squid which glowed from inside and attacked the stage. Afterwards children were able to explore a series of demonstrations run by University students.

Ocean Quest is the latest in a series of unique annual events organised by Dr Fiona Hunter from Animal and Plant Sciences.

Dr Hunter added: “This is the sixth time we have organised a Christmas time lecture for local schoolchildren and once again it has been a resounding success.

"It's great to see the children learning about science and having fun at the same time, and we hope that some of them will be inspired to come to university and form the next generation of scientists.”

Additional Information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2016 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

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For further information please contact:

Kirsty Bowen
0114 222 1034