Science can be a bit like marmite, we either love it or hate it. Sometimes it can be hard to see what the point is, particularly if what you are learning is far removed from the world as you know it. But science is everywhere and sometimes just thinking about it in a different way, in a way that has relevance for your world, is all it takes to make it interesting.
At Communities For Horses, we use science in our community-based workshops to explore different issues relevant to the care and health of horses. Internal parasites can be a challenge for horses and ponies, and it is important that these are treated before they cause damage to internal organs and compromise health. Seeing is believing, so we take a microscope out into communities to allow horse owners to see for themselves if their horse or pony has a parasite burden by giving them the opportunity to view and count parasite eggs. This is similar to what a veterinary practice does when they do faecal egg counts. This approach shows owners what worm burdens actually look like and helps them to understand the importance of regular deworming for their horse’s health.
We have also developed practical, visual resources to support delivery of science related workshops relating to nutrition, with the aim of helping owners to better understand equine digestive health. This includes a full-scale, colour-coded model of the equine digestive system, all 30 metres of it!
We have worked with the British Science Association, holding workshops in British Science Week, an initiative that aims to celebrate and raise awareness of all things science, engineering, technology and maths. We have also attended a British Science Association Community Leaders workshop. This is part of a programme which is designed to build confidence in those working within the community to share science and has helped us to explore ways of delivering high quality science outreach to our communities in interesting and relevant ways. Many of the communities we work with do not engage with traditional schooling yet bringing science to life using the horses they care about makes science real for them and the interest and enthusiasm we see at our workshops is inspiring.
Going forwards, we would like to run more of these events, using horses to provide a way-in to science engagement.