Between 2010 and 2013 I spent a portion of the summer along the coasts of Denmark; first in Northern Jutland, then in Northern Sealand. Every day I would bring children and grown-ups alike out into the water to look for marine life. We’d search for anything from sea weed to fish, including crabs and prawns. Back on land, I would go over everything we had found. Telling stories to the children about life in the sea, and educating parents about the necessity for sustainable fisheries, decreased pollution and how they might contribute. The children and I would then go on to cooking crab soup, eating snails, mussels and seaweed.
This was one of my first experiences with public engagement and I took to it like a fish to water. There is something truely satisfactory in sharing your passions with children and grown-ups and seeing interest and amazement in their eyes. I had a child, who’s mother told me she was enormously picky about food. It took me five minutes before the girl was asking me to feed her snails. Her mother ended up taking a bag home for dinner.
Bloom is an annual nature festival held in Søndermarken, Frederiksberg. In 2019 the Bloom Festival started an initiative for school children to spend half a day in the park learning about science and nature. I did three guided ant safaris around the park where we looked at live ants living in the park, some leafcutter ants that I’d brough along in a small container and specimens from the Natural History Museum of Denmark. We talked about how humans and climate affect ants and how ants adapt to different environments. This program was specifically aimed at children in 6th-9th grade.
Read what the Carlsberg Foundation thought about the day here (in Danish).
Here’s a slideshow to remind myself to keep timely updates of what is going on in my world of all things ants.
Back in October 2017 it was the annual Culture Night in Denmark. As per tradition, Copenhagen University opened up its doors to the public, with scientists showing off the cool and important work they do. Together with the Centre for Social Evolution I organised an entire corner on ants. I was there talking about the Ant Hunt, others talked about super colonies, ants as architectural inspiration, ants as symbionts and more. We also had a play area, where children (and grown-up, let’s be honest here) could help colour in big drawings of ants and create their own chestnut ants. A fun evening to remember as we gear up for season two of the Ant Hunt.