Who killed Rudolph the Reindeer?

With just weeks to go before Christmas, tragedy strikes.

Rudolph the Reindeer has been killed – and Santa, Mrs Claus and his fellow reindeer are among the prime suspects.

Our only hope for a happy Christmas? Schoolchildren from across Bournemouth – who visited BU to try and solve the crime on Monday.

The Who Killed Rudolph? was organised by BU and the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) to introduce pupils to forensic science.

Year 9 pupils from The Bourne Academy, Oakmead College of Technology, The Grange School, Carter Community School and St Aldhelm’s Academy first watched a short play, which introduced all the main characters and prime suspects.

The play – acted out by students and Aimhigher ambassadors – showed tensions between Rudolph and characters including Mrs Claus – who was jealous of Santa and Rudolph’s ‘snowmance’ – The Grinch and the Head Elf Toymaker, who had been overlooked for a promotion, with Rudolph getting the job instead.

At the end of the play, Rudolph staggers in and collapses – but nobody knows what has happened to him. Or do they?

“It’s a forensic murder mystery,” said Naomi Capell, Science Outreach Officer, at Aimhigher with BU, who helped organise the event.

“The participating schoolchildren then had to find out how Rudolph died and whether he was killed.

“They took part in five workshops and all of them were aimed at discovering the truth behind those aspects of the investigation.”

The workshops were led by students and took place in BU labs.

They included interrogating the main suspects, fingerprint and hair analysis and learning how to extract DNA using strawberries.

Pupils also analysed Rudolph’s stomach contents to see if he has been poisoned.

Naomi said: “We hope they will see the possibilities of studying science, particularly science at university.

“Forensics is not something that students tend to study at school, so we just wanted to show them more about what science at university is like and what kind of facilities we have.

She added: “The students seemed to enjoy the activities.

“All of the workshops were as practical as possible and we got quite good feedback from the interrogation workshop – they quite loved questioning all of our main characters.”

The Who Killed Rudolph? event was repeated by staff and students at the Royal Veterinary College, in London, for schoolchildren the next day.

Pupils had to write down who they thought killed Rudolph and how, and the answers were revealed in another short play at the end of the event. Pupils who got it right won prizes.

Dawn Griffiths, upper school coordinator at Oakmead College of Technology, had brought her pupils along to the event at BU.

She said: “It has been brilliant. It’s a great insight into studying forensics at university.

“It has stretched the pupils, which has been really good, and they have been fully engaged with it all.

“Speaking to the students throughout the day, a growing number have said that they are now interested in studying forensics.”

Hospitality Management students serve HRH The Princess Royal

The purpose of the visit was to see and hear about some of the achievements that staff and students have had over the past year, including working on the Olympics.

She spent a lot of her day in the Media School touring the facilities and hearing from students.

However, School of Tourism Hospitality Management students were lucky enough to serve HRH Princess Anne canapés that they made for her visit.

Mhairi Strachan; Cameron Mcglone; Sarah Carter and Harry Watts were the students lucky enough to be chosen to be part of the serving team.

2nd year student Mhairi Strachan commented on the experience:

“For the Princess Royal to visit Bournemouth University it was an honour not only for the university but for the students.

Being part of the serving team it was again another great experience to be ambassadors for the School of Tourism and not only that but for the other students studying hospitality in the UK, and having that recognition.

It was definitely a surreal experience and one of the greatest achievements I am going to remember for a long time from now.”

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Coverage of HRH The Princess Royal’s visit to BU

Media School students involved in the visit of HRH The Princess Royal to BU were interviewed by Steve Harris on BBC Radio Solent about what it was like to meet her.

The students, who all worked as outside broadcasters during the London 2012 Olympic Games, had taken part in a panel discussion with The Princess Royal earlier that day, for a student-produced TV programme about the Games.

Multimedia Journalism student Charlotte Blake and TV Production students Chris Butler and Rob Grieve talked to Steve about the experience and their memories of the Olympics on the drivetime show after HRH’s visit.

Third year student Chris, who also helped to film The Princess Royal’s visit to the university, said: “It’s been a lot of running around, but it’s been a great experience and it has been enjoyable to do.

“She made everyone feel very welcome and she was very interested in everyone’s responses to the Olympics, and she made a real effort to do that. She was very welcoming and engaging.”

Charlotte, also in her third year, said that the panel show had been celebrating the involvement and achievements of Bournemouth University students at the London 2012 Games.

“We did this TV show and we had panellists on to discuss our experiences – and Princess Anne joined us, which was quite a delight to have, and it was an experience definitely, and one I won’t forget.

“She was very impartial, but she did talk about the whole experience and what it meant for her.”

The Bournemouth Echo also featured the Royal visit to BU.

Reporter Caitlin Marsh talked about some of the research that The Princess Royal heard about – including collaborative work that is being done with Poole Hospital.

Deputy vice-chancellor Tim McIntyre-Bhatty told the Echo: “It’s great to showcase what the students have to offer and have achieved, and it helps Princess Anne to understand Bournemouth, and in recognition of the fact that we received The Queen’s Anniversary Prize this year.”

Read the Bournemouth Echo article.

BU researcher Innes McCartney on Channel 4 documentary

Marine archaeologist and postgraduate researcher at BU Innes McCartney was part of a Channel 4 documentary exploring the sinking of British Navy ship the HMS Hood.

The Hood was revered as one of the largest and most powerful warships, but when it was hit by German warship the Bismarck in 1941, it sunk in minutes.

Only three of the crew survived, while 1,415 were killed – the largest loss of life ever suffered on a British warship.

Questions still remain about the loss of the ship – including why it was destroyed so quickly and who was to blame.

Innes, who is completing a PhD at BU which examines the role twentieth century shipwreck archaeology can play in enhancing our understanding of the past, was approached to explore the wreck for the hour-long documentary.

He said: “We were trying to work out what happened to it.

“I spent around three months travelling around the country doing preparatory results, and then went to Iceland aboard a ship for about two weeks.”

The programme followed Innes and deep water search and recovery expert David Mearns as they searched the wreck – which lies nearly 3km below the ocean’s surface – with a state-of-the-art remotely operated underwater vehicle.

Innes said: “We located the bowel, which wasn’t recoverable, but we were able to see a great deal of the features around the wreck, and by looking at those came up with some ideas about what happened.”

He added: “It was very interesting. To get the opportunity to work on the Hood – which is so iconic – was great.

“I had no expectations that I would ever work on anything quite so prestigious.

“It’s fantastic to think that I contributed in some way to finding out what happened to it.”

You can watch How the Bismarck Sank HMS Hood on 4OD.

BU Forensic Science courses in The i newspaper

Alex Otto, demonstrator in forensic sciences at Bournemouth University, was featured in an article in The i newspaper about forensic science degree courses.

The article, by Russ Thorne, looks at how forensic science differs from the glossy representation shown on TV, and what students can expect from a forensic science course.

It mentions the specially built crime scene training centre at BU, which helps students to hone their investigative abilities while grounding them in toxicology, chemistry and molecular biology.

“We teach science with a forensic element making the course interesting and exciting,” said Alex.

But, she adds, students also learn other skills – such as problem-solving, working in a team and analytic skills – which can also lead to other career paths.

“We are not teaching students to become crime scene investigators or pure forensic scientists,” she said.

“We are teaching them science, which incorporates transferable skills that they can take into the work place.”

Philippa Hudson and the safety of children’s lunchboxes

Senior lecturer in Food Safety Philippa Hudson has been featured in several media outlets about her research looking at the safety of children’s lunchboxes.

Philippa and dissertation student Hannah Walley looked at the temperature of children’s lunchboxes at a school throughout the day and found that almost all of them reached potentially unsafe temperatures.

They also looked at the cleanliness of the lunchboxes and tested the insides for microbes.

The Bournemouth Echo newspaper did a full page feature on the research, and spoke to local mums about whether they worry about the temperature and cleanliness of their children’s lunchboxes.

Parenting website Netmums also focused on the findings of the research – asking parents whether they thought schools should do more to keep lunchboxes at cool temperatures.

Philippa appeared on Katie Martin’s afternoon show on BBC Radio Solent and Wessex FM.

In interviews, Philippa said that the idea for the research came from her own son’s lunchbox.

“I became interested in the nature of the contamination of the general gunk that was in his lunchbox and what the microbiological and food safety implication of that might be.”

She added the type of lunchbox used was important.

“The rigid sort are much easier to clean because you can put them in a dishwasher or can immerse them in a bowl of hot, soapy water when you are doing the washing up and you can give them a jolly good wash.

“The sorts of lunchboxes that gave me cause for concern and the sort that I was buying for my son was the fabric sort…they always say, do not immerse in water, wash with a damp cloth, and if that is what you are doing and it is a dishcloth you’re using, you run the risk of potentially contaminating that surface.”

Bournemouth University in the Times Higher Education

Bournemouth University gained acclaim in a Times Higher Education article looking at the amount of time students spend with their course lecturers.

The article looked at the average amount of time lecturers spent with their students and the average student per lecturer, with BU given full marks for its teaching approach.

The article is based on a study by Stephen Court from the University and College Union.

Jack Grove writes in the article, ‘At Bournemouth University, where there were 23.6 students per teaching academic, staff devoted 56 per cent of their time to teaching.’

This figure is higher than a number of other universities in the UK.

The article was published in Issue No. 2,079 published 6-12 December.

Read the article


Archaeology project shortlisted for Heritage Award

A long running archaeology project by the South West Marine Archaeology Group which includes Bournemouth University academic Dave Parham, was nominated for an English Heritage Angel Award.

The project involves the investigation of a 17th century cannon site and a Bronze Age submerged site, one of the oldest possible shipwreck sites in the world. The groups work has meant that the site was removed from the ‘English Heritage; Heritage at Risk’ register in 2009.

Dave Parham, Senior Lecturer in Marine Archaeology at Bournemouth University and appointed archaeologist for the South West Marine Archaeology Group said, “Whilst the group did not win the ‘Best rescue of any other heritage site’ category award it was proud that its work had been recognised at this level”.

Sean Street on BBC Radio’s 90th Anniversary

Bournemouth University’s Emeritus Professor of Radio Sean Street spoke expertly on several panels to analyse BBC’s radio broadcasting on the Anniversary of their 90th birthday.

Sean spoke to a number of local radio stations to give his thoughts on the BBC’s milestone and was also a guest on Radio 4’s World at One and BBC World Service’s Newshour.

Speaking on Newshour, and introduced as Britain’s first Professor of radio, Sean was asked about radio’s past; he said, “One of the major factors… in terms of radio is looking at a democratisation of culture, information and ideas. Before [the radio] there were things that certain classes of people did and didn’t do. People didn’t all have access to the same levels of culture. At a stroke, the coming of radio broke that barrier down.”

Sean Street also spoke to a number of local BBC stations including Merseyside, Bristol and Newcastle talking about the future of radio and radio’s place in UK culture.

You can listen to Sean’s appearance on Newshour.

BU’s Karen Fowler–Watt in The i Paper and The Independent

Ian Burrell’s ‘Media on Monday’ feature in The i Paper, also in The Independent, focussed on the need for journalism students to evolve in the wake of this current precarious media climate.

BU’s Associate Dean in journalism and communication Karen Fowler–Watt quoted on her stance on the subject, while the feature outlined what BU are doing to help students prepare for the modern journalism world.

In the article, Burrell writes, “Quite simply, students cannot rely on traditional media owners anymore. Instead, they are having to evolve into a new type of animal, one with a fresh skill set and a different relationship to money and employers. This new breed could change the very nature of journalism.”

Karen Fowler–Watt said in the paper, “We have almost got to the point where [students] don’t know what their predecessors’ lives were like… [Students] are quite fired up about the prospect of having a freelance life.”

The papers also recorded some of the steps that BU are making in helping to prepare their students, stating, “At Bournemouth University, the blogger Fleet Street Fox was brought in to advise on building a social media profile, while freelancer Adam Lee–Potter was hired as a ‘Practitioner in Residence’ to give students tips in entrepreneurial journalism.”