28 July 2010
Tom Horner, an MSc Science Communication student, reports on his experience of helping out at the DRUID innovation and technology conference, hosted by Imperial College Business School, held between 15-18 July.
“I now consider myself to be an expert cat herder. Or rather it feels like I should be after spending six weeks (on and off) organising a tour of the Science Museum for 150 delegates of the DRUID conference – an international affair attracting about 400 academics and industry leaders from around the globe. I was asked to put together the tour as part of a three-day events programme that also included a meal in the shadow of the diplodocus skeleton at the Natural History Museum.
What started of as a tempting little ‘proposition’ by the Head of my Department, soon ballooned to encompass most of my spare time. There was content to create, routes to plan, resource packs and hand-outs to make and, above all, tour guides to recruit.
However, with the help of Alan Worman, a Science Museum employee, magician and purveyor of bizarre facts, and after rounding up a cohort of Imperial’s most engaging students, I eventually got together a made-to-measure tour of the museum.
In keeping with the ethos of the DRUID conference, the theme of the tour was British innovation. Instead of spouting technical facts and figures, tour guides focused on the stories behind the objects and the characters that shaped those stories; the giant red-haired wrestler who invented a revolutionary steam engine, the gold digger who funded an airborne drag race and the reputed engineer, who may have also been an insurance fraudster.
Thanks to the tour guides, who did an excellent job, and the slick organisation of the Business School, all ran smoothly on the day and I enjoyed the challenge of creating something fresh and entertaining for a specialist audience.”