A collection of memories from the family album. Many people have taken these photos. Thank you so much for letting me share them here.


Materials Scientists and Engineers are often inspired by what they see in nature, and use these amazing ideas to craft the world around us. While at the 2024 Big Bang Fair, we discussed a few examples. This is an interview between Freya, a @DiscoverMaterials ambassador from the University of Birmingham, and Phillip, a zoologist from ZooLabs UK.

I made this videos a group of researchers and ambassadors from DiscoverMaterials. While not the Pixar story spine that was originally written, we chose to keep to a simple documentary style, but with a historical element. Inês volunteered as the deadline approached, and delivered her film debut. The topic was chosen in consultation with local school groups, and magnets were chosen from the materials they highlighted fascinations for. This was fitting as many of the students had family history in the automobile manufacturing that was done at the nearby Longbridge plant in Birmingham.

Yet another three In2Science interns who spent two days learning to write a script, pick up a camera, point some lights and capture some footage. This time, I directed while they focused on telling the story of the true value of your mobile phone when we consider what these amazing materials do, where they come from, and where should they go at the end of their life.

This video was produced to document the making of the first video for the Let’s Move to the Moon project. It captured the two In2Science interns who spent two days learning to write a script, pick up a camera, point some lights and capture some footage. Working with me and Chris Hamlett, a material scientist, they took their first steps into the unknown and made a film. This is their behind the scenes footage.

In August 2022, two year 12 students from the In2Science programme worked with myself and Chris Hamlett to create a film for a materials science outreach project called ‘Let’s Move To The Moon’, funded by the UK Space Agency. They learned to prepare a script suitable for a teacher to use in the classroom, sought locations, then moved on to principle photography; how to use a camera, where to place lights, ways to capture great sound, and how to embed emotion in the telling of the script by using these effectively. Finally, they worked on the assembly cut of their film, which was the first to be created for the project.

With up to 1 in 10 people unknowingly having an adrenal tumour, what are the implications for their metabolic health? This video was produced for the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research at the University of Birmingham, to complement the paper detailing the results of a clinical trial. It was a quick turnaround; so I’m happy with it. Check out Mark in the background eating his breakfast. We both worked in the NHS in the 90’s, and anyone that worked in the 90’s NHS deserves to sit and eat undisturbed. Respect!

This was filmed specifically to aid recruitment to the LOCI clinical trial, investigating whether Letrozole or Clomifene are better for ovulation induction in the millions of women who suffer infertility because of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It was produced at very short notice due to the urgency of the for participants, and directed by Jon and fellow public engagement renegade Caroline Gillett, for the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham.

How does your cycle helmet protect you? A peek at what the materials in its construction do. Created for www.discovermaterials.uk

Celebrating ‘National Cotton Candy Day’, Jon introduces the experimental method using different sugars to make candy floss. Which sugar makes for the most efficient yield? Does granularity affect speed of production? How much of a mess can Jon make in the kitchen?

A little chemical engineering for primary school kids? Of course! How much sugar do I need to make enough candy floss sufficient to fill my big, green garden tub? Video featured at the ASE’s STEM Spectacular in November 2020. It’s the first of a series of videos about candy floss, steadily increasing in complexity.

2020 hasn’t exactly gone according to plan, and all the things I look forward to each year have been cancelled. However, with some festivals going virtual, it’s been opportunity to create things that can be delivered from my own garden.

Welcome to Episode 1 of ‘Jon’s High Street Science’, where we explore a little chemistry by having an unusual fire. This series of videos explores extraordinary science using everyday objects. Each session will last just eight minutes, so be prepared to be join in, and be amazed. Go here to catch the whole series.

Here is a montage of some of the many times BrumSciComm has gone busking science together and as individuals. Thanks to everyone who appears in these clips or captured footage, including the University of Birmingham and the British Science Association.

Some bootleg audience footage of my show “Why Do We Do That?” at the Lancashire Science Festival in July 2016. Six brilliant audiences, and over 2500 children and families. Thanks to @AbbieTutt and @NickyDanino for their permission to use this.

When conservation engineers at the Royal Air Force Museum at Cosford discovered damage to a unique plane, they called on the Royal Society of Chemistry to advise them on how to repair it. My film takes chemistry out of the lab to see it work in the real world.

2015 saw the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope being in orbit. To celebrate this, the ESA launched an ‘Ode to Hubble’ competition. Three minutes to reflect on a quarter of a century of inspiration. This was my entry.

During gaps in shows at the Lancashire Science Festival I picked a few songs for BBC Radio Lancashire and chatted with Maria Felix-Vas about what it is like being a science communicator. Alas, we didn’t get round to discussing my favourite recipe. (Slideshow)

I joined fellow BrumSciComm member Martin Khechara for the Wolverhampton ‘Funny Things’ Comedy Festival. Our show delivered an immersive experience of being the live studio audience of a variety performance programmed to replace the Eurovision Song Contest, post-Brexit. Setting the scene, we opened by cutting ‘to the news that preceded our “live broadcast”‘. This video punctuated our show. Obviously, the news is fake, written for an adult audience, rather than younger ones, so don’t take it serious.(Slideshow)

A video I produced for young children and parents, preparing them for what to expect when they come and have a magnetoencephalograph or M.E.G. brain scan as part of a research project. It is presented by roving science reporter Fizzy Cole and voiced by ScienceGrrl’s Zoe Chapman.

In other news, many of you were disappointed to miss the performances of ‘Trusting Atoms’ back in 2014. However, the good news is that you can watch it on YouTube. Enjoy.

Jon demonstrates the science of social conformity and authority in an experiment at the British Science Festival in September 2010. The event was broadcast in September, 2010 by the BBC. Read the full report by David Gregory-Kumar, the regional BBC science correspondent.

While on the road with the ‘Bang Goes The Theory’ team and working as a science busker at Dr. Yan’s table in the BBC interactive area we captured some footage of the things we were doing. Here, Jon demonstrates how a Diesel engine works by igniting cotton wool in a fire piston.

Filmed at Bang Goes The Theory Live in Edinburgh, 2012. Donning the wig and taking the supplements maybe helped in this round but it didn’t always. I still suspect Giles had been shovelling sugar down in order to beat me on the last day.

On the 22nd of September 2006, alongside Dr. Carl Senior and representatives from the University Communications Division at Aston University, Jon was involved in an event for the benefit of a visually impaired student. Our experiences were recorded by the BBC and broadcast that day.

How to recreate an outside broadcast from an MRI suite to a lecture theatre. How theory can be brought to life when we can see and interact with an example of it in use. Demystify science using simple webcams. Broadcast by the BBC in January 2008.