Action-packed National Science and Engineering Week begins

Ruth Hazard | 09 March 2012
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Event: National Science and Engineering Week, Narch 9-18 2012

Science geeks rejoice as National Science and Engineering Week kicks off today with a program of themed events that will explore Our World in Motion.

This year you are just as likely to find something science week-inspired in your local supermarket as you are in a laboratory or a museum.

Organisers The British Science Association are using the annual event to launch an initiative which aims to get young people to try hands-on experiments with products they can find around their homes.

Inspired by recipe cards available in supermarkets attempting to engage people with cooking by offering simple meal ideas, the BSA hopes to do the same for science experiments.

A picture of a piece of copper engraved with star shaped markings on a purple background
A series of Supermarket Science experiment cards are being launched in stores across the country this week, with all of the necessary equipment available for purchase during the weekly shop.

The Association hopes that giving children an opportunity to do this in the comfort of their own homes will help them realise how accessible and exciting science can be.

The launch of an online competition looking for budding TV science presenters also forms part of the festival.

Prove It will see challengers battle it out to be the next Brian Cox or Alice Roberts by submitting a 30-second film that shows how everything in the world is in motion.

The films will then be open to a public vote on YouTube until March 19, when the most popular will be cast as finalists.

A judging panel including Professor Robert Winston, British-born astronaut Richard Garriott and Dr Yan Wong, presenter of the BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory, will then decide the overall winner.

Submissions can be on anything to do with motion- from plate tectonics to the solar system, to how bees fly or the reason for earthquakes and widening oceans.
A picture of a beaker partially filled with liquid with a balloon semi inflated on the mouth
The panel’s decision will be based on how accurate, imaginative and engaging the videos are. “Doing that in 30 seconds is quite a challenge," admits Dr Wong.

“If you can come up with fun and exciting ways to inspire people about science or engineering, then grab a camcorder and show us what you can do.”

Entries can be submitted via the BSA website, while schools wishing to take part can upload submissions to Films For Learning.

All the films, including the expert judges’ own 'Prove It' videos, are available on the competition's YouTube channel, where there are also tips and inspiration for those looking to enter.

But that’s not all the week has to offer. Regardless of whether you know your protons from your photons, the wide and varied choice means there’s something for even the most science-shy.

Here are just a few of the more unusual highlights:
  • Manchester's Girl Geeks celebrate female contribution to science Combining their NESW event with International Women’s Day by celebrating female scientific and technological achievement throughout history, the geeks offer you the chance to meet Marie Curie and Florence Nightingale among others.

  • Peterborough's Discovery Den - A Year in the Life of a Newt
    Participants will be asked to wear a tail and forage for food while learning about the British amphibian. Organisers add that the event is open to all ages.

  • Slough Library highlights Islamic inventions in science and technology
    The Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation will host the event where children will research and make models of Islamic discoveries and scientific advancements to present to the community.

  • Seafront stargazing in Sussex
    The Eastbourne Astronomical Society will provide telescopes for viewing the night sky from the Gun Platform of the Redoubt Fortress. Planets on view will include Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter.

  • Science Busking nationwide
    City centres including Plymouth and Reading are hosting demonstrations and science experiments in the middle of the street. Shoppers at the Grafton Centre in Cambridge can try making their own helicopters to fly through a vertical wind tunnel or create a hovercraft to race across the floor.

  • Sci-fi films at picturehouses in Hackney, Greenwich and Clapham
    The venues are set to show a series of sci-fi films accompanied by introductory talks by related experts. Wall E will be introduced by a space robot specialist, Flying Monsters by a palaeontologist and a Research Biologist will precede Contagion.

  • Rock Around the Cemetery in Sheffield
    This is not a pop festival among the tombs, but a peaceful walk around the memorial stone rock. It will offer participants a chance to discover how the Victorians selected and carved their tombstones and see how the rock has fared over time. Speakers will explain what the stones can teach us about the evolution of the Earth itself, and of the British Isles in particular.

  • And strictly for the grown ups...
    If all this talk of science leaves you hankering for a glass of wine, then look no further than the Chemistry department at Cambridge University. A talk on the science behind prize-winning wines should quench your thirst. Otherwise, head to the Watershed pub in Bristol or The Three Guineas in Reading for a science-themed pub quiz.
  • More details and a full programme of events are here.
More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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