Report on the Fruit Study by a Participant, March 2014
Just this week I completed my part in the above study aimed to discover potential benefits to the older person of a very high intake of fruit.
Each participant was asked to complete a range of interesting tests revealing the understanding instructions, flexibility and memory capacity, both before and after three months of a daily intake of highly concentrated fruit drink bounded by two MRI brain scans, at the beginning and end of the process.
It is possible, as with all research programmes, that I was one of the participants ingesting a placebo however, once all participants have completed the process and the outcomes observed, the results will be shared with us.
In the longer term, it is hoped to be able to identify not only if such quantities of fruit might have an effect upon the rebuilding of synapses (pathways) between one area of the brain and another, but move forward our understanding of what it is in fruit which is beneficial to potentially repairing damage caused by dementia.
Report on talk on the Invention of Money, 2nd April 2014
Eighteen members of Exeter U3A enjoyed a very informative and entertaining talk by Professor Richard Seaford.
Greece was the first ever society to be thoroughly monetised and this occurred during the sixth century BC.
By transforming social relations, monetisation contributed to the ideas of the universe as an impersonal system (presocratic philosophy) and of the individual alienated from his own kin and from the gods (in tragedy). Prof Seaford also argues that an important precondition for this monetisation was the Greek practice of animal sacrifice, as represented in Homeric Epic, which describes a premonetary world on the point of producing money.
The talk was very thought-provoking and a lively discussion ensued.
Report on talk to Science+ and Geology Groups, 7th May 2014
Two Exeter University Research Students each gave an informative and well-illustrated talk on the theme of "Researching the Jurassic Coast Heritage Site"
Frances Rylands talked about "Exploring and communicating the earth sciences through artistic practice" and described how people can experience the geology of this region via a wide variety of visual means. This is particularly important in engaging school children with science.
Rose Ferraby, who has previously worked as an archeologist, talked about "Stone exposures: people and stone on the Jurassic Coast". She explained how stone which has been quarried from this region has been used in such structures as Exeter Cathedral and how the wealth of knowledge has been passed on verbally by stone masons and quarry men.
Report on Families Class, 29th May 2014
At the end of May four members of Exeter U3A joined one of the Family classes provided for spouses of international students at Exeter. Participants worked in groups and discussed a range of issues from food and football to the problem caused in many countries by an ageing population. U3A members had a wonderful opportunity to broaden their cultural horizons by talking to students from a range of countries including Spain, Lebanon, Kuwait and China. The buzz of conversation punctuated by plenty of laughter, continued almost non-stop for almost two hours!
According to teacher Josephine Hughes:
The students really enjoyed the session because it gave them an opportunity to talk to people whose experience they respected. The topics were central to their lives as well as the visitors and they all got an opportunity to express their opinions.They felt that it had been very useful for their oral fluency and actually gave them more confidence in their ability to communicate outside the class.
There is very little chance for them to talk about serious, intellectual topics in English in the UK because they are either looking after children or talking about such areas in their own language. Thus, this class gave them back some of the confidence they have lost in coming to a foreign country and being unable to communicate well.
It was a three-way success, with all parties wanting to arrange another session in the future.
Report on GP Research Project, Friday 30th May, 2014
Five of our members participated in a workshop on how Primary Care can support a more effective route to dementia diagnosis. The workshop was facilitated by Dr David Llewellyn, Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Epidemiology, and his colleague Dr Elzbieta Kuzma. Two other members of staff, Dr Andy Gibson and Dr Iain Lang, were also present.
We were delighted to be involved in the early stages of the development of this important project. The discussion was lively and wide-ranging and included the difficulties involved in getting an early diagnosis, the use of questionnaires and distinguishing dementia from memory loss which is simply an effect of ageing.
Report on All Things Bright and Beautiful - The Science of Colour, 25th July 2014
Thirty six members of Exeter and Exmouth U3As attended this talk by Professor Peter Vukusic. The material covered was wide-ranging and illustrated with fascinating images and practical demonstrations. Newton's early work on the dispersion of sunlight into its component colours by means of a glass prism was described and we moved on to the current understanding of the wave properties of light which explain the phenomena of refraction and diffraction.
The iridescence of butterflies has been found to be caused by the interference of light waves reflected from tiny regular structures which have evolved in their wings. The colour of other creatures, such as the octopus, is due to pigments which can produce effects similar to pointillism in the paintings of Seurat. Others, such as fireflies, emit light due to a chemical reaction called bioluminescence.
Report on German History Museum Focus Group, 25th October 2014
The University Liaison team received a request from Chloe Paver, Associate Professor of German, for volunteers to take part in an informal focus group. Chloe, who specialises in German history museums, is working with a colleague from Exeter RAMM to develop a travel guide to these museums in the form of an app. Four members of Exeter U3A and one from Exmouth joined the focus group, and were rewarded with a thought-provoking and stimulating day (not to mention a delicious lunch!) We discussed how history is experienced, remembered and interpreted, and how museums select and show their exhibits. We were also asked to consider what would attract us to visit a particular museum and what sort of information would be useful. By the end of the session we had a much greater awareness of the complex issues faced by museums when presenting the past and how approaches to history may evolve over time.
Family Class, 6th November 2014
A second family class was held at the University with 5 members of U3A participating in wide ranging discussions with 28/30 students of all backgrounds, nationalities and age, most of whom are accompanying spouses. This is a good opportunity to sit around in groups with ‘real people’ as we were described, to enjoy this chat. Normally this would be their weekly English language class but this type of meeting would help widen their understanding of new cultures as well as improving language skills. Certainly they were all extremely interested in asking about our lives, our professions and the different cultures we had all experienced over our lives. The 5 U3A members had at times lived and worked abroad giving a wide range of experiences to discuss.
Politics, religion, diet, sport - every subject the students were interested in and prepared to talk about and discuss. One group even broke into a spontaneous rendering of Auld Lang Syne after a discussion of festivals and to prepare those who were going to be in Exeter over the Christmas and New Year period.
The language barrier might have been harder for some students than others but there was no difference in their enthusiasm to ask, listen and learn.
I hope this will prove to be an on-going project beteween INTO and U3A as it was certainly enjoyed by all! We felt that the 2 hours spent with the students was well worth while.
Talk on Mitigators in Conversation, 27th November 2014
On the afternoon of 27th November we enjoyed a very interesting talk by Dr. Lucie Riou, a lecturer in the Modern Languages Department of Exeter University. She had been researching the ways people mitigated their conversation when they were speaking to friends about subjects on which the speakers’ perceptions might differ. For example: ‘Your sister is drinking too much’ might be softened into ‘I’m really worried about Pam (the sister) - she doesn’t look very happy at the moment’ or ‘Peter (a mutual friend) thinks that Pam doesn’t seem very happy at the moment’. Many such devices and strategies are used to oil the wheels of social interaction among friends so as not to offend or shock their feelings.
Lucie had recorded many hours of her friends’ conversations and then examined the mitigating techniques which they had used. Of course her study was on French mitigators, but the same techniques are used in English. In fact we were able to suggest ways of translating some of the French mitigators into English. The whole session was very stimulating and certainly made me think a lot more about how I use mitigators myself when speaking to friends and acquaintances!
Unversity of Exeter/INTO - English Family Class, 4th December 2014
Several U3A members, all of whom had previously been involved with the family project run by INTO at the University of Exeter joined 30 family members of students studying at the university to celebrate term end and the time of year.
Each participant presented some colourful and interesting facts about their village/ town/city and their life as they experience it at home. This included the food and eating habits, styles of celebration, heritage, art etc. We all learned a great deal from each other and overturned some unsafe myths too!
For the last hour, we shared plates of unusual and interesting food provided by everyone which led to a rich array from China, Spain, a number of the ‘stans, Poland and more.
I came away having heard of the isolation sometimes experienced by family members of students here in our City and just how difficult it is to find people willing to converse in English about everyday things. One member from Exmouth and I will be following up with two student over a cup of coffee at the INTO cafe in an attempt to remedy this, at their request and with the agreement of Jo who runs the project. We are looking forward to it. What a lovely way to learn!
THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A FREE LUNCH! TALK FROM HSE MYTHBUSTER’S PANEL
On Monday 15th December 2014 we were invited to Reed Hall by the Health and Safety Executive, in conjunction with the Politics Department of the University of Exeter. As the HSE wanted to speak to as many U3A members as possible, participants from Exmouth, Torbay, Barnstaple and Exe Valley U3As were able to join us for the discussion.
67 of us turned up on the day – wonderful, as it was so near Christmas! We had interesting presentations from two members of the HSE Mythbusters Challenge Panel. Do have a look at their website for some entertaining myths that have been busted. http://www.hse.gov.uk/Myth/myth-busting/index.htm
The whole session was expertly chaired by Dr.Claire Dunlop of the Politics Department, who also told us of the research going on in this field. Claire gave us the opportunity to ask questions after the presentations and some stimulating discussion followed.
Afterwards we were treated to an excellent buffet lunch – the completion of a questionnaire beforehand was a small price to pay!