Guest Blog: Calls of the Wild

The British Science Association are delighted to be working with the National Trust, to promote National Science & Engineering Week, and spread the word about our exciting new public participation project, Calls of the Wild. New for 2013, Calls of the wild is an online experiment, that we want to encourage everybody to get involved in, to join us in celebrating science, and in particular, nature.

British Science Association

Visit ‘Calls of the Wild’ to take part in the 5-10 minute experiment

We’ve been working with scientists who want to find out just how people interpret the sounds of nature (or ‘calls of the wild’ as we like to think of them!), and what impact they have on people’s psychology and wellbeing. Researcher Eleanor Ratcliffe, from the University of Surrey, has been working alongside Professor Trevor Cox, an acoustics engineering expert from the University of Salford, on the project. Ellie’s work is supported by the National Trust. Between them, the researchers hope to find out how we react to various bird calls, whether they relax us, or put us on edge, and how factors like sound quality might change our interpretation of them. Trevor’s project still needs more data – so by joining the study, you’re helping real scientific research.

Of course, there were any number of projects we could have chosen for National Science & Engineering Week this year – so why this one? In the past we’ve worked on mass participation projects on everything from humour, to honesty to TV theme tunes. This year though, we felt that this was a real opportunity for the public to make a difference, and help build up the evidence database, for this surprisingly under-studied area of science.

The study uses sounds clips both from this country, and from Australia, so we hope to find out if we react any differently, to these exotic sounds. You can find out more about all of the birds in the study, with our fact sheets, which appear at the end of the study.

Can birdsong affect really your mood?

Can birdsong influence your mood?

We’ll be revealing our findings at the end of National Science & Engineering Week, and to encourage everyone to take part, the National Trust have kindly donated free admission passes, and everyone who completes the experiment by 31st March will be entered in to a prize draw to win a pass. The activity takes about 5-10 minutes, so if you’ve got a few minutes to spare, why not give it a go?

The prize draw will take place on 3rd April but there’s also a lot more sciencey stuff going on at National Trust sites before then, with a number of National Science & Engineering Week activities being hosted at Trust sites across the country. I hope you can join us!

Science pioneers: Great scientists of the past meet at Lacock Sunday, March 24, 2013 – 11:00 to 16:00

Four pioneering scientists from one small corner of the West Country who changed the world will be celebrated at Lacock in Wiltshire. The event will offer talks, information displays, a fun children’s trail and hands on activities that will provide something of interest for all ages.

Location: Tithe Barn High Street, Lacock nr Chippenham WiltshireSN15 2LG

Admission cost: Free

Contact details: Rachael Holtom, 01249 730459

Science Talks! Wednesday, March 20, 2013 – 11:30 to Friday, March 22, 2013 – 14:30

To celebrate NSEW some of our science volunteers will be doing short talks and demonstrations about Isaac Newton’s science – pendulums, alchemy, light – come and take pot luck depending on what they fancy!

Location: Woolsthorpe Manor, Water Lane Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth Grantham NG33 5PD

Open to: Adults

Admission cost: Normal entry prices apply

Contact details: Kim Barnet, 01476 862823

You can find out more about our previous public experiments, on the National Science & Engineering Week website.

  • Coralie Young is the Communications Manager for the British Science Association.


Update: 25/03/13

HOT OFF THE PRESS: Results of the experiment- read them here first!

A major annoucement for National Science & Engineering Week 2013. The preliminary results of the Calls of the wild experiment show songs of certain birds may aid recovery after stress; the study has also shown our response to sounds is affected by meaning. We are still collecting data so it is not too late to take part below.



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