British Science Festival creating a little piece of magic in the North East

The hugely popular British Science Festival has this year made Newcastle its host, bringing with it a wealth of unusual experiments, talks and guest speakers

Youngsters enjoy Science festival activities at Gateshead Library
Youngsters enjoy Science festival activities at Gateshead Library

Squirrel wars, large scale logic and the rise of the robots are just a snippet of the scientific spectacle attracting thousands of visitors.

Rolling into the region at the weekend, the hugely popular British Science Festival has this year made Newcastle its host, bringing with it a wealth of unusual experiments, talks and guest speakers.

Taking to the stage last night was star speaker and one of the UK’s best-known and most popular scientists, Robert Winston. Talking to the packed Curtis Auditorium at Newcastle University he discussed his bill in the House of Lords designed to produce transparency around animal testing.

 

Colliding the worlds of humans and robots Nick Hawes explored how we can build intelligent robots to improve our lives and what they will be able to do for us.

In the region for the next four days, the festival is an annual celebration of science, engineering and technology.

Run by the British Science Association, the festival of innovation features more than 250 events, spanning free child-friendly educational sessions to top scientific debate.

Giving shoppers a taste of what the festival has to offer is a team of street scientists performing science tricks in Northumberland Street.

Among the team is Julia Whitehall, a 23-year-old biology graduate from Gosforth. She said: “Everyone’s just really excited for the whole week and learning a lot about science. I think it’s a great opportunity for everybody in the community.”

Kicking off the packed programme of events at the weekend were dozens of shows, workshops and fun sessions exploring what’s in our mouths and how maths can lead to the fastest slide and complex skateboard tricks.

At Gateshead Library there were a wealth of activities laid on for families with a chance to see 3D printers in action, make music, look at retro gaming and take part in card making.

Back in Newcastle and last night alongside Robert Winston, Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah joined in a free debate asking ‘who is science for?’ at the North of England Mining Institute in Westgate Road.

She said: “The British Science Festival offers a chance for scientists, elected representatives and the public to reflect on where science is going.

“Many people are concerned that science increasingly serves the vested interests of governments and business, but it could do much to help solve everyday problems and contribute to making a fair and more socially just world.”

Daily events this week include giant logic puzzles, an imaginary museum of sight and sound and a glimpse at futuristic shopping experiences. Taking to the stage on Wednesday will be Newcastle University professor Sugata Mitra, winner of the TED Prize 2013, and the man who inspired the film Slumdog Millionaire.

For more information and events visit www.britishscienceassociation.org/british-science-festival

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer