National Science and Engineering Week whizzes into action

By Culture24 Staff | 11 March 2010
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A photo of scientists in white laboratory coats against an fiery background

Festival: National Science and Engineering Week, various venues, March 13-21 2010

Strictly speaking, the National Science and Engineering festival is a ten-day campaign, which could be just as well given the staggering scale of events going under its auspices between today and next Sunday (March 13-21 2010).

It kicks into life with a bang – literally – with The Big Bang at Manchester Central, running until Saturday with explosive daily stage shows from Sky’s Brainiac Live, the BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory, Punk Science and The Royal Institution, as well as a series of themed zones (visit the Fair online for full details.)

A photo of three scientists in white laboratory coats performing an experiment with a shopping trolley

The Brainiac team are at The Big Bang Fair in Manchester. Photo:

Oxfordshire Science Festival has already been running for a week, but it’s still got everything from lectures on the science of beer to Medieval machine building competitions and revelations about ancient diets at the Ashmolean Museum.

Not to be outdone, Cambridge Science Festival gives another dimension to residents of the university strongholds, with laugh laboratories and aerodynamic lessons courtesy of the Williams Formula 1 team.

A photo of two white sheep in a field full of daffodils

Oxfordshire Science Festival

Newcastle City Fest would need all year if it tried to cram any more chimpanzees, Rubik’s Cube-solving robots or giant bubbles into its programme, which has more than 100 events – see the official site to pick your favourites.

Aimed more at 9-19 year-olds in a cleverly curriculum-attuned programme, Leeds Festival of Science starts on Saturday (until March 26) with dozens of workshops and talks, and nearby York has photographic exhibitions, walks of discovery and passion for penguins among a packed Community Science schedule launched by Dr Death’s Medi-evil Medicine Show tomorrow (Friday).

A photo of a man on a stage in front of a screen

Dr Death and The Medi-Evil Medicine Show. Photo:

If it’s social science you’re after, look no further than the Festival of Social Science. Run by the Economic and Social Research Council, it’s holding more than 130 events in 40 towns and cities across the UK, searchable on a map and by region.

Highlights include a “mystery tour” of Sheffield’s waste-energy infrastructure complete with sculptures based on incineration and recycling, a portaloo and soundsystem-filled exhibition of festivals and free parties in Bristol, an “emergency exercise” preparing residents for Swine Flu, war and terror in Chichester and tips on how to stay cheery during the recession in Belfast.

A photo of three young men with colourful sunglasses on

Newcastle Science Fest

Bath Taps Into Science is a more concisely focused endeavour altogether, starting at the University of Bath on Friday and proceeding to the central Green Park Station on Saturday with a theme of Science, Maths and the Arts.

Schools tend to dominate the Friday event, but the Saturday soiree attracts a wide range of visitors to lego robotic displays and liquid nitrogen shows.

A photo of a schoolgirl examining an artefact under a bright bulb light

Bath Taps Into Science. Photo:

Other specially created exhibitions come in the form of photographic show, Discovering Your Environment at Cardiff University’s Senedd (until Sunday), portraits of scientific ambassadors at the National Railway Museum (where a Bionic Ear Show and hands-on workshops are also up for grabs on Saturday) and 60 spectacular wildlife images by renowned snapper Steve Bloom in Edinburgh’s St Andrew’s Square (opening tomorrow until May 16).

De Montfort University holds a school activity day on Friday and family day of talks and debates on Saturday (visit Leicester Science Festival for more), and the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre in Nottingham has Physics Busking throughout Friday and Saturday, inviting the unsuspecting public to put a kebab skewer through a balloon, create a tornado in a bottle of water and wiggle a straw through a potato.

You can also take a closer look at the beasts in the garden of the Red House Museum in Dorset (until March 21, 10am-5pm), see the wonders of the universe through a telescope at the Wynyard Planetarium in Stockton-on-Tees (from 9pm daily until March 19) or spend this afternoon exploring caves underground with the Attenborough Studio at the Natural History Museum (March 12, 2.30pm-3pm).

Visit the festival online for more.

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