When Stuart Rogers from Wormit was made redundant last summer he started devoting his time to getting kids into science.
During lockdown, he watched videos on the internet to learn how to create interactive experiences.
As a science communicator, he wanted to make something that looked realistic and allowed for learning over online platforms.
His business Cerebral Ape was born, and his first interactive experience “Mission to Mars” released into the world.
Stuart says: “The science communication sector were still trying to go ahead doing science talks, but just over the internet you lose that kind of interactivity.
“I just got to thinking about how can you bring a zoom call to life, and if you can control a robot over zoom.
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“The way I brought that to life was using a very large, geologically accurate, realistic Martian landscape.
“You control the robot over zoom, it has a grabbing claw, web cameras and your tank tracks.
“You manoeuvre it over the surface and perform objectives while I give an educational talk about Mars exploration and colonisation.”
Exploring the deep sea
As Stuart’s background is in marine biology, he always planned to expand his virtual challenge to focus on marine life.
In his second interactive experience, the user navigates a deep sea robot over a realistic ocean floor model.
They then complete objectives while learning about the secrets of the deep sea.
“Dive Into the Deep” launched last week at the Orkney International Science Festival at a virtual event.
Stuart says: “It was a great platform to showcase my work, whilst also providing an educational insight about the marine environment.
“I’m fascinated by the world’s oceans and their offering. The deeper you descend, the more compelling the mysteries – this is what Dive Into the Deep delivers.”
Inspiring young scientists
The entrepreneur admits it was difficult to be made redundant, but is grateful it have him the push he needed to start Cerebral Ape.
His plans to expand his concept wide, as his Mars Rover can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
Most of all, he hopes that both his online experiences will inspire the next generation of scientists.
Stuart says: “This generation is really going to be at the forefront of all these amazing developments in space exploration.
“With the diving into the deep workshop, it’s more about learning more about erosion and the problems that climate change is going to cause for future generations.
“I just want to inspire the next generation to get into all kinds of science, but specifically space exploration and marine biology.”