Friday, 20 April 2012

Christiane Dorion at Cambridge Wordfest

I was slightly apprehensive about Christiane Dorion's How the World Works appearance at the Cambridge Wordfest Spring Festival because it was on Friday 13th! I'm not normally superstitious but as soon as I arrived, I discovered that things had already started to go wrong: the books hadn't arrived. Despite the concern and obvious distress from the Festival organisers, Christiane emitted an aura of calm - she simply shrugged her shoulders and admitted her events are for her to meet and interact with her readers, not for any other reason.

However, catastrophe struck again whilst we were setting up the stage ready for Christiane's talk and we discovered one of her props, a fish bowl, had broken in transit. Despite her obvious disappointment, Christiane continued with a determined dexterity that was admirable, and explained rather than demonstrated her fish bowl experiment. Luckily it appeared our Friday 13th bad luck was not going to come in the traditional 'threes' and Christiane's talk went down a storm!

The room was positively vibrating with the excited buzz Christiane created among both children and their parents! The entire room was engaged as she led them through complicated tide cycles and carefully explained to one young member of the audience why we don't fall off the top of the world. The best moment for me was when Christiane was explaining the various theories surrounding global warming and scientists predictions for the future. She asked the children to vote which outcome they thought was most likely: 1, 2, 3 or 4. A lovely warm feeling of optimism swept through the room as nearly every child raised their hand to vote for option number 3: A different way.

Once Christiane had finished her talk, she invited the audience to ask her some questions. And wow! There were some seriously intelligent and eloquently asked questions - even from the youngest members of the audience! Christiane answered every question clearly and enthusiastically - it was evident her belief that children shouldn't be patronised with explanations but should have complicated concepts explained clearly to them has some merit to it - the whole audience were engaged, both young and old!

After the Q&A there was just enough time for Christiane to meet her young fans and sign their books - one young boy simply told her 'I think your books are great'. It was fantastic to see so many children excited by science and it was clear Christiane had inspired many young minds.

Despite the hiccups, Christiane behaved like a true professional and I think everyone learnt a lot - I know I did!

By Annie Godfrey, digital marketing intern.

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