Let’s face it, children are idiots. They whine a lot and rarely know what’s good for them. For example, some of them don’t even realise that a trip to a museum is not a chore. It’s fun! Who doesn’t want to learn things?! Idiots, that’s who… Anyway, it was just this attitude that we were faced with on a recent trip to Preston Park. Preston Park is a museum and gardens complex near Stockton. The large house was built in 1825 and became a museum…Continue Reading “Replica worlds – the education benefits of bloody violence in the grimy streets of physical and virtual reconstructions of the past”

I presume that I’m not the only one who watched the start of episode 4 of this final season of Game of Thrones, and as the emotional memorial of the dead took place, and we said goodbye to some of our favourite heroes, turned to their partner and said solemnly, “Those are some efficient pyre constructions there”… As we know, I’m a big fan of GoT – I even use it in my teaching and take valuable leadership lessons from it (for example, I am…Continue Reading “A Song of Ice and Fire – but mainly fire…”

Croeso! Which Google Translate reliably informs me means ‘Welcome’ in Welsh. I’m in Cardiff, FYI, so this is not as random as it seems. I’ve spent the last couple of days down here in Wales working with colleagues at the University of South Wales. Last year, Dr Stewart Eyres (Deputy Dean of Computing, Engineering & Science) reached out to the Teaching Excellence Alliance Peer Review College for some support with their work to develop their Foundation Years. Since I was just coming out of my…Continue Reading “Sharing is caring…”

This weekend I was able to head over to the Riverside to watch Boro play QPR. It’s the first time I’ve seen them play as well as they did – looking (mostly) in control and putting together some really nice passing – Barca on the Tees… It’s not the first time I’ve been to the Riverside though, but this time it did jog my memory of something that we tried many years ago which I hadn’t thought about in ages – our attempt to get kids…Continue Reading “Back of the net!”

One of the things that I’ve been trying to do since taking on this AD role is improve the learning spaces in our School. We’ve got great labs, but our more flexible spaces are poor by comparison. To be honest, it’s been a key aim of my annual L&T plan for two years and strongly supports our TU Future Facing Learning framework, but this year I’ve been able to extract some funds from the School to address this issue. Where to start though? The relatively…Continue Reading “Space. The final something-or-other…”

Earlier this year I wrote a bit about the forensic aspects of Kenneth Branagh’s version of Murder on the Orient Express, a film which I really enjoyed. Since the BBC’s recent version of The ABC Murders with Poirot over Xmas seemed to be so divisive, I thought I’d wade in again. So here’s my hot take, as they say… For me, this wasn’t really a three-part murder mystery, but rather an interesting exploration of how one can change. The grisly murders (and they were spectacularly…Continue Reading “Easy as ABC…”

I’ve recently been interviewed by Chemical and Engineering News magazine, which is funny considering I’m neither a chemist nor an engineer. In fact, I’m likely to be fatally disastrous as either. Recently, a new burned bone paper came out in Analytical Chemistry (Mamede et al., ‘Potential of Bioapatite Hydroxyls for Research on Archeological Burned Bone’, Anal. Chem., 2018, 90 (19), pp 11556–11563). The paper explores the use of inelastic neutron scattering (INS) and FTIR-ATR to analyse burned bones and hopefully distinguish ancient burned bones from just ancient bones….Continue Reading “Incremental Growth”

So, I almost knocked over both Emily Thornberry and Floella Benjamin in one day… Forensic science is in a challenging place at the moment. The well-publicised closure of the national Forensic Science Service and the rapid marketisation of forensic provision has left the sector a little winded. Combined with the complexity of contracting out forensic services, the increasing demands associated with ISO accreditation, the budgetary cuts, the fragmentation of research and so on, it is little wonder that the criminal justice system and the public…Continue Reading “House of Lords Science & Technology Committee – Inquiry into Forensic Science”

I’ve been looking forward to getting back into the classroom again. For all the peace and quiet of the summer period, there’s nothing like the hustle and bustle of the first few weeks of a new academic year to get you excited for the possibilities ahead. So I was very pleased to see that I’d be starting the first morning of the first day of the first week back with my new final year forensic students. One thing that often surprises people is that an…Continue Reading “Back into the classroom…”

It seems that everyone is writing posts about their holidays at the moment. And I’m going to be one of them! Recently I was off on leave, but because of my endless drive to better myself (I know, I know, how does one improve on this..?), some of my holiday was spent learning about stuff. Namely, the Romans and life along Hadrian’s Wall. A three-day stay allowed us to explore a number of fascinating sites in the area, like Corbridge, Birdoswald and the incomparable Vindolanda. I’m…Continue Reading “Another Brick in the Wall (which is a terrible pun, even by my standards…)”