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Biosciences physiology lecturer ‘IN THE ZONE’

14 December 2012

Sarah Hall in the zone news piece

Standing L-R: Alice Roberts (BIOSI graduate, academic and TV presenter); Katie Salt (‘In the Zone’ presenter); Sir Steve Redgrave (Project Champion ); Paul Jones (Scientific advisor, Cardiff Metropolitan University);  James Murden (‘In the Zone’ presenter);  Sarah Hall (Scientific advisor, BIOSI).  Seated:  John Harris (Paralympic athlete)

‘In the Zone’ is an interactive, touring exhibition about exercise physiology which received over 91,000 visitors during the summer of 2012.

Over the past year, Dr Sarah Hall, physiology lecturer Cardiff School of Biosciences, has been involved in this Wellcome Trust-funded initiative which has been created by the science centre AtBristol.  The exhibition built on the excitement of the Olympic Games to explain the physiology of exercise to the general public.  The aim was to produce an outdoor touring exhibition that would travel to all 12 regions of the UK during the summer of 2012, to reach members of the public who might not usually engage with science. 

Sarah first acted as a scientific advisor to AtBristol in 2009, working on their permanent physiology-themed exhibition entitled ‘All About Us’.  She has since developed a very positive and productive relationship with the centre which has opened up opportunities for final year BIOSI students undertaking scientific engagement projects.  Two of her recent project students have designed very successful interactive sessions which ran in the ‘Live Lab’ space on the exhibition floor, and this year another two students are working on engagement projects for AtBristol.

Sarah was part of a small scientific advisory panel for the ‘In the Zone’ exhibition.  This panel contributed to the design, development and delivery of the interactive exhibits and the scripts for the accompanying stage show, as well as the content of supporting web-based material. Sarah explains, “Over the 9 months of the project, from conception to completion, I was part of a multi-disciplinary team which included engineers, theatre designers, tent manufacturers and even theme-park organisers – quite a different set of skills to my usual colleagues in BIOSI.” A more detailed account of Sarah’s involvement can be viewed in her recent article in Physiology News (page 10).

2nd image for sarah hall in the zone piece

Sir Steve Redgrave and Cardiff University athletes enjoy the Power Zone of the exhibition

In March 2012, aspects of the exhibition and stage show were showcased at a press event at AtBristol.  Elite athletes from Cardiff University’s High Performance Programme were invited to ‘road-test’ the exhibits and they competed eagerly with ‘In the Zone’ project champion Sir Steve Redgrave and Paralympic athletes Ben Rushgrove and John Harris to run faster, jump higher and react quicker.  TV presenter (and Cardiff graduate) Alice Roberts was also there.

From early May until the end of August, despite relentless rain, treacherous mud and only rare glimpses of sunshine, more than 91,000 people had an ‘In the Zone’ experience and learnt about the physiology of the body systems.  Feedback from these visitors indicated that they had really enjoyed the whole experience and had even learned something new!