Ilford pupil stars in BBC’s Christmas lecture series

PUBLISHED: 12:00 22 December 2017

Orla and Sophie demonstrate with insects. Picture: RIGB Christmas Lectures

Orla and Sophie demonstrate with insects. Picture: RIGB Christmas Lectures

Copyright (c) Paul Wilkinson 2017

Emojis and beatboxing can be linked back to “ape ancestry” and an Ilford pupil will help prove it as part of the BBC’s Christmas lecture series.

Orla Hannant-Clune, 12, of Ursuline Academy, Morland Road, will be featuring in a Boxing Day edition about communication alongside professor Sophie Scott from UCL’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.

As part of the lecture, delivered from the Royal Institution Lecture Theatre in London, Orla bravely picks up cockroaches to help professor Scott address three big questions, including “how do humans and animals send messages with sound” and “how do people turn thoughts into language”.

Orla, who lives in Wanstead throughly enjoyed her experience and added: “I loved helping out in the Christmas Lectures.

“I was also amazed when Sophie explained how laughing is one of the most communicative noises a human can make.”

Prof Scott said she doesn’t know a successful scientist today who wasn’t inspired as a child by the Christmas Lectures.

“I grew up watching them with my parents and I now continue the tradition with my son,” she said.

“They’re fun and engaging and a great family-focused way to stimulate an interest in science, so it is an enormous honour to be chosen to present.

“I’m looking forward to revealing that there’s much more to communication than we think, and to asking some fairly challenging questions about the future we want.”

Filmed in front of a live audience the original idea for science and engineering events for children was pioneered by Michael Faraday at a time when organised education for young people was scarce.

He presented 19 series, establishing an exciting new way of presenting science to young people.

The Christmas Lectures have continued annually since the 1825 series, stopping only during the Second World War and many world-famous scientists have given the lectures including Nobel Prize winners William and Lawrence Bragg, Sir David Attenborough, Carl Sagan and Dame Nancy Rothwell.

Orla can be seen on BBC Four at 8pm on December 26 in an episode entitled Say it with Sound.

Additional lectures can be seen at 8pm on December 27 and 28.

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