Talks & Workshops

World history author Christopher Lloyd and What on Earth? workshop facilitator John Gordon-Reid offer a wide range of highly educational and stimulating cross-curricular talks for schools, home education groups, literary festivals, businesses, societies, clubs and universities, tailored to suit all ages from 5 to adult. The range of talks includes school workshops, INSET days, speech days and parents' evenings

Workshops

A History of the World in 20 Objects

Take the ultimate cross-curricular journey stopping off at 20 key moments in the history of planet, life and people. Using a series of everyday objects, picked from a coat of many pockets by the audience, the story of 13.7 billion years is threaded together into a single sweeping narrative with a giant edition of the the What on Earth? Wallbook as a stunning backdrop.

This talk was first given at The Royal Institution in London in 2008 at the launch of world history book What on Earth Happened?.

Topics covered: Cosmology, Planet formation, Photosynthesis, Cambrian Explosion, Dinosaurs, Mammal diversification, Human origins, Fire, Agriculture, Writing, Ancient civilisations, Islamic conquests, European expansion, Industrial revolution, Climate change, Population growth.

1066 and All That…..

Choose ten key moments in the story of British history from 1066 to the present day and what would they be? See how foreign forces shaped the early development of our island culture with the arrival of plague, paper and gunpowder.

Then see British power steadily increase until the rise of Germany and two devastating world wars. Using a long perspective, British history is best understood when connected with the history of the world. This talk was first given at the Chalke Valley History Festival in June 2013.

Topics covered: Norman Conquest, Islamic conquests, Black Death, Printing, Reformation, Patents, Maritime Exploration, Industrial Revolution, Rise of Germany, Financial Deregulation, Present day issue

Key stage
Can be customised to suit from Year 1 to A -Level / Adult
Topics
As listed above

I have been besieged this morning by teachers who have come into the library to say how much their classes had enjoyed the workshops

Rachel Johnston, Manor Lodge School, Shenley

The Story of Science & Engineering from Abstract to Infinity

Question: what distinguishes humans from their closest genetic relatives, chimpanzees? Answer: they have much bigger brains for problem solving (science) and freely available hands for making things (engineering). The story of how humans have reshaped the world over the last 10,000 years is the story of science & engineering.

This giant narrative takes in 14 of the most significant discoveries covering the complete scientific spectrum from maths (abstract) to astronomy (infinity). The talk, accompanied by a coat of many pockets and a giant edition of the Wallbook of Science & Engineering, also gets students to think about the unintended consequences of scientific endeavour. Ideal for cross-curricular integration, science, maths and history departments.

This talk was first given at The Science Museum and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in October 2013.

Key stage
Year 6 to A -Level / Adult audiences
Topics
Maths & Measurement, Physics & Chemistry, Biology & Medicine, Earth & Land, Building & Invention, Transport and Communication, Sky & Space

Brings a whole new perspective to communicating science

Jonathan Newby, Chief Operating Office, the Science Museum

Why do people play sport?

Pupils who think history is just about kings, queens and battles are in for a shock with this mind-boggling journey through 3 million years asking the simple, but intriguing question: why do people play sport? Our quest begins millions of years ago in the Stone Ages with the first human ancestors who learned to walk on two feet, giving them freely available hands – essential for playing sport. The story then covers a dizzying array of cultures from hunter-gatherer cave people to the Greeks, Romans, Aztecs, Tudors, Victorians and ending with the revival of the modern Olympics and London 2012. First given at City Hall, London in May 2012.

Key stage
Year 1 to A -Level / Adult audiences
Topics
Stone ages, Hunter-gathering, Ancient Greece, Roman Empire, Islamic conquests, Aztecs, Tudors, Victorian, Modern Olympic movement

We have never had a speaker who was so successful at engaging everyone

Stratford-Upon-Avon, Home Education group

The 4 billion-year story of life on Earth

A spectacular voyage through the 4-billion year story of life on Earth stopping off at 14 of the most significant evolutionary episodes that have most shaped the development of life on our planet.

Using a coat of 14 pockets, a series of everyday objects and a giant edition of the What on Earth? Wallbook of Natural History (developed in partnership with the Natural History Museum) as a backdrop, this talk is ideal for Science departments or non-fiction workshops.

First given at The Natural History Museum in October 2012.

Key stage
Year 1 to A -Level / Adult audiences
Topics
Origin of life, Bacteria, Photosynthesis, Endosymbiosis, Sexual reproduction, Fossil record, Adaptation, Amphibians & Reptiles, Fungi, Pollination, Biodiversity, Mass extinctions, Rock formation, Plate tectonics, Climate change, Ice Ages, Human evolution, Anthropocene

We find it difficult to articulate in a short email just what an incredibly positive impact your talks have had on Charlotte over the years (well...she's 5!). Perhaps it will be enough to say that you have made a significant contribution to her huge enthusiasm for learning.

Catherine and Louis Flutsch

Does Biodiversity Matter?

100 Species that Changed the World

Why don’t humans just cultivate and grow the species that suit them and not bother about everything else? In some ways that’s the reality of the modern world, but does it matter?

Christopher Lloyd takes a deep history look at some of his 100 Species that have Changed the World, from his book What on Earth Evolved? It’s a fun-packed ride explaining how nature works when there are no humans and then moves on to showing how humans have changed the rules for survival since the dawn of agriculture. He ends with a metaphor for the importance of biodiversity using a railway track, a candle and two plastic champagne glasses. Intrigued? You should be!

The lecture was first give at The Royal Institution in London in 2009.

Key stage
3 to Adult
Topics
Bacteria, slime, sharks, mosquitos, food, agriculture, domestication, biodiversity

Big History, Visualisation and the Brain

Christopher Lloyd, author of best-selling world history book What on Earth Happened? presents a 60 minute lecture on the making of his book and his pioneering techniques for communicating the deep chronology of the story of science and history over billions of years to an everyday audience.

During his journey he will discuss and demonstrate a wide range of diverse communication strategies for conveying a long chronological perspective including the lost art of rhetoric and memory from ancient Greece, the use of medieval visual timelines and modern insights into hard-wired evolutionary learning pathways taken from the latest research in neuroscience.

Key stage
Teachers, educators, IB / A Level students, literary festival audiences
Topics

I just wanted to drop you a line to say how much my husband and I enjoyed your brilliant talk at Thomas's Fulham speech day yesterday. I can genuinely say your talk was definitely the most impressive talk / speech day I have ever been to, so much so I felt the need to write and say so to you.

Katie Cowell, Parent, St Thomas', Fulham

Why a Big History approach to learning is so important!

ALLOWING natural curiosity to flow in the classroom can be a real challenge for teachers following a prescribed curriculum and working within specific learning frameworks. However, if natural learning pathways are ignored the result can often become disengagement and, worst of all, boredom. A bored child cannot learn effectively.

As part of the What on Earth? offering we regularly provide INSET workshops for schools interested in developing a more interconnected, curiosity-driven strategy for their schools – curiosity being the antidote for boredom.

The workshop begins with an overview of the latest research in neuroscience – the premise being that as educators we need to understand how the brain has evolved to learn if we are to maximise our chances of achieving pupil engagement in the classroom. The seminar then looks at what the evolution of the brain can tell us about the most naturally functional relationship between the left and right hemispheres and suggests strategies for allowing curiosity to flow between subjects using timelines and everyday objects.

Inset Workshop

Making Connections: how craft, visualisation and narrative context promote curiosity-led learning

Christopher Lloyd explores the latest research on neuroscience and how the brain has evolved to learn – valuable for understanding how to address young minds in the classroom. He then discusses the dangers of an over-dependence on learning exclusively through abstractions such as words and numbers before exploring the memory learning techniques of ancient Greece in a world where pens and paper had not yet been invented.

Next, Christopher demonstrates how the curriculum can be integrated using artwork, timelines and a narrative approach to the past. Staff divide into groups and choose an everyday object as a lynchpin around which to construct their own narratives that connect with all parts of the curriculum.

Finally, staff are taken on a whistlestop journey through 13.7 billion years covering every subject in the curriculum using a series of everyday objects. The talk demonstrates how the ‘ordinary’ world around us can be used to tell the most ‘extraordinary’ story of planet, life and people in a way that will engage even the most reluctant learner using no more than the power of natural curiosity.

INSET workshops can be designed around a school’s individual timescales and requirements. Details on request. Duration: from half day to full day (depending on audience / requirements). Suitable for teachers, librarians and learning support assistants of all subjects from Reception level to Key Stage 4 and beyond.

Key stage
Suitable for teachers from Reception level to Key Stage 3 and beyond
Topics
Neuroscience, memory skills, cross-curricular integration, use of timelines, use of everyday objects, use of IT, storytelling, engaging reluctant readers

I just wanted to thank you so much for coming to visit us today and giving us a series of the most wonderful entertaining and educational talks. I don’t think it mattered what age your audience was – whether adults or littlies – you inspired them all!

Denise Reed, Assistant Librarian, Ardingly School

Science Vs Religion – Where Do You Stand?

Scientists and religious leaders have been rubbing each other up the wrong way for years. During this talk we tackle their rival views of existence head on, starting at the beginning of time – the Big Bang. Our journey then stops off at ten mysteries, all of which remain largely unaccounted for by modern science.

The workshop ends with a horizontal line drawn on a flip chart and pupils are asked to decide where their own personal beliefs reside on the line. Are they on the athiest random luck end, in the middle with some kind of divine architect or do they believe in an intervening God or gods as the most credible explanation? This talk was first given at Shireland Academy, Birmingham, in November 2013.

Key stage
Year 3 to A -Level / Adult audiences
Topics
Asymmetry between matter and anti-matter following the Big Bang; Collision of Earth & Theia to make the Moon; Giant bombardment of comets brings water to Earth; Proximity of Earth to Sun allowing liquid water for life to thrive, Origin of life in the seas; Oxidation of atmosphere by cyanobacteria leading to ozone layer; Emergence of complex life; Origins and purpose of sexual reproduction; plate tectonics.

Renewed thanks for everything - You were definitely the hero of the Schools Festival

Jane Pleydell-Bouverie, Director of the Chalke Valley History Festival 2013

An Introduction to Shakespeare

What’s the best way of introducing a young audience to the thrill of Shakespeare? Our answer is not to study one play or one scene but to engage with ALL the plays and allow people who have never explored the plays of Shakespeare to experience all of them visually using their natural curiosity.

How many plays did Shakespeare write? Which feature ghosts? Which are non-fiction and which are made up? Using the new What on Earth? Wallbook of Shakespeare, published in collaboration with The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, this talk explores the world of human emotion using different coloured pockets in an all-new coat to represent jealousy (green), anger (red), riches (gold), love (purple), terror (white) and magic (black).

Using a series of props hidden inside the pockets, pupils explore the world of Shakespeare as a gateway to the entire spectrum of human nature.

Key stage
Reception to A -Level / Adult audiences
Topics
Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, The Tempest, Titus Andronicus, Pericles, Richard III, Merchant of Venice, Julius Casear, Henry V, Othello, Antony & Cleopatra, Coriolanus

Also, just wanted to say Christopher Lloyd was fab the other night and Izzy was just buzzing from meeting him. After he talked about his Shakespeare book, we ended up spending the Friday in Stratford at her insistence on seeing where Shakespeare came from!

Olivia Smith, Teacher

Upcoming Events

Date Event Location Type Host
23/10/14 Gravesend Home Ed Group Gravesend Home Ed Group Chris
24/10/14 Robertsbridge Home Ed Group Robertsbridge Home Ed Group Chris
04/11/14–09/11/14 Spirit of Christmas Fair Public Olympia, London Market / Fair Natasha
04/11/14 Brimington School Chesterfield School Lecture John
05/11/14 St Finian’s Catholic Primary School West Berkshire School Lecture John
06/11/14–06/11/14 PINC Conference, Sarasota Public Sarasota, Florida, USA Public Lecture Chris
10/11/14 Olivia Hodson Cancer Fund Fair Public Roehampton Market / Fair Natasha
11/11/14 The Linnean Society of London Lectures London Public Lecture Chris
12/11/14–16/11/14 Country Living Fair – London Public London Market / Fair Natasha, John and Vicky
13/11/14–16/11/14 Gibraltar Literary Festival Public John Mackintosh Hall, Gibraltar Literary Festival Chris
19/11/14–22/11/14 Country Living Fair – Glasgow Public Glasgow Market / Fair John
20/11/14–21/12/14 Winchester Christmas Market Public Winchester Cathedral Market / Fair Chris
20/11/14–22/11/14 Wealden Times Midwinter Fair Public Bedgebury Pinetum Market / Fair Natasha and Vicky
21/11/14 Interactive Science Show Public Bohunt School, Liphook Charity Event Chris
26/11/14 British Red Cross Christmas Fair Public Kensington Town Hall Market / Fair Chris and Natasha
27/11/14–20/12/14 Salisbury Christmas Market Public Salisbury Market / Fair Chris, Natasha, John and Vicky
27/11/14–14/12/14 Bath Christmas Market Public Bath Market / Fair Natasha and John
04/12/14 Nottingham University Lecture Nottingham University Public Lecture Chris
06/12/14 Saint Ronan’s School Christmas Fair Public Hawkhurst Market / Fair Chris
12/12/14–17/12/14 Leeds Castle Christmas Market Public Leeds Castle Market / Fair Chris, Natasha and Vicky
12/12/14 Hastings Home Ed Group Hastings Home Ed Group Chris
16/12/14 Mercia Home Ed Group Staffordshire Home Ed Group Chris
05/01/15 Boundary Oak School Hampshire INSET Talks Chris
02/03/15 Micklefield School Reigate, Surrey School Lecture Chris