Wednesday, 12 November 2008


Big Science Read is coming towards its finale – and we’ve got some great author and writing events across Greater Manchester in the coming weeks. For instance, Chris Turney’s talking about his book “Ice, Mud and Blood: Lessons from Climates Past” and Michael Boulter’s exploring and explaining “Darwin’s Garden” as well, just in time for Darwin200.

You can find all the events on the BSR website - - along with the lists of books for you to vote for, and other information.

Hope to see you at an event and receive your vote soon!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Let's hope this isn't true for festivals...

"You only go to a science centre three times in your life... Once when you're eight years old; once when your kids are eight years old; and once when your grandchildren are eight years old."

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

National Science and Engineering Week (only 17 weeks to go)

For those of you who can't wait the 51 weeks for your next dose of science festival fun, it is only 17 weeks until National Science and Engineering Week. (Sorry, shameless bit of plugging!)
The BA (British Association for the Advancement of Science) and the Manchester Museum ran an information session for NSEW on Wednesday 29th October. The event was really well attended with quite a diverse audience; local school science teachers, science societies, students, researchers, along with representatives from a range of industries and businesses.
The evening was designed as an informal gathering which we hoped would spark a frenzy of idea generation and develop a support network for those people interested in becoming organisers for NSEW.

There were several presentations to get things going. The first was given by Joanna Rooke from the BA and provided a large amount of information regarding NSEW. Much of this information and the resources she promoted can be found at,

Following the presentations there was a nibbles-fuelled ideas/networking session. The cafe had a great buzz to it during this time and I am optimistic that collaborations were formed, ideas formulated and that NSEW 2009 is going to be the best yet.

Unfortunately there are no more information sessions planned in preparation for the 2009 event. However, it is not too late to get involved! Whoever you are, NSEW is an opportunity for everyone to get involved in science, engineering, technology and maths events. Any audience, any format, any topic (although the broad theme for 2009 is 'Change').
If you want any more information don't hesitate to get in touch with the BA through their website.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Four snapshots...

Poppy Adams reading from The Behaviour of Moths, Manchester Museum

Busking at Piccadilly station

The 3D EARTH mosiac at the Trafford Centre

The sold out Blade Runner screening

51 weeks to go...

So it's basically all over for 2008 - what a buzz!

There are still a couple of events upcoming, including one tonight at Manchester Museum about the bronze age shovel and, of course, stick insect weekend this Saturday/ Sunday!

And there's loads you can do by downloading and interacting with the festival over the coming weeks, not least the City South podcast and trail, amongst other things (like and the Science Places walk). Check out the Interactive section of the festival website for more details.

In the meantime, we'll be going back to post photos and other bits and pieces from the festival here, as well as putting up some end-of-the-festival posts...

Catch you back here soon?

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

International Science Directors

While all the exciting public events have been going on, a group of science festival directors from around the world have arrived in Manchester. Thanks to the British Council and MOSI, 2o delegates have been sharing experiences and lessons on setting up and running science festivals. Alongside that, we have seen some of the top festival events.

So, what have we all been learning? Well, on Monday we learned about why different festivals in the UK were set up, and how their missions have changed. These can be local events, like this festival, or national programmes like the BA Festival. In the afternoon we listened to Trevor Bayliss talk about his belief that invention should be taught to all young people.

On Tuesday we compared the way our festivals, and the major UK events, are operated. It seems that no two festivals are completely alike, although we all have similar issues to contend with (funding, marketing and working with partners). In the afternoon were taken on a walk around the scientific history of Manchester, before participating in the Nowgen debate on the politics of immunisation. Judging by the live voting at the event, the audience was surprisingly representative of the UK population (with very similar views), even though 20 were from overseas.

Today was a rapid journey through the programme to commemorate Darwin Year in 2009, with presentations from two major Darwin festivals as well as UK and international coordinating projects.

So, what have we learned so far? Science festivals are thriving all around the world. UK festivals, like Manchester and Newcastle, compare well but there are some amazingly dynamic and innovative activities elsewhere. Many events are celebratory, cultural events but dialogue is becoming a common theme everywhere. We've learnt about the importance of stories in communicating complex ideas and seen how in some cases a compelling story can dominate over fact. Still to come, we'll find out about wo works in festivals and the perfect location, as well as discovering the identity of the UK's best young science communicator. And maybe, by the time we finish on friday, everyone will have adjusted to UK time.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The story so far, and more to come!

Already, we've (deep breath)... busked in the station, been on telly, done some city walks, launched the Planet-Box art at the library, met Our Kid, told some stories, made a massive 3D mosaic, played with noisy toys, hung out at the Trafford Centre, done a Mensa test, learnt and used some BSL, talked about dystopian novels, heard about the behaviour of moths, seen evolutionary colour in action, hunted for aliens, and solved a crime in CSI Manchester!

But there's more, so much more...

Even in the next 48 hours you could (another deep breath)...
...debate state interventions in health decisions, take a sound tour, see some cartoon science, be a dinosaur detective, watch the Cosmic Africa film, find out where your mind is, bend it like Sparky, get a plant's view of the world, and do chemistry with cabbage!

To find out more simply search on the website for any of the above! And see you at something before the next big weekend, we hope?

Friday, 24 October 2008

Liquid nitrogen on the move!

Phew! After many months of preparation I have this afternoon finally left MOSI with an auditorium choc-full of exciting Chemistry demos ready for go tomorrow at the BSL Signs for Science Chemistry Demonstration at 11am.

It's been quite a feat to pull together this event (and its partner event BSL Signs for Science Finding New Science Terms at 2.30pm) and looking back to the start I can see that I underestimated how much work needs to go into planning a fully translated event. After what must rack up to about 3000 emails between about 10 people coordinating these two BSL events has been a bit like directing a fleet of slow-moving tankers. Not that I suggest my valued colleagues are slow-moving! Rather that there was so much to do and so many people to talk to, liaise and negotiate with in order for us to pull together all the pre-requisites for the events.

Of course there are the presenters to organize getting over to Manchester, but I've also needed to recruit a BSL translator and and electronic notetaker who can work on demand so that audience members can hear, see or read whatever language they work best with. We've needed to liaise heavily with MOSI to ensure the room is fully accessible and everyone is visible to everyone else (thanks Julie for all your help!) and we've also had to track down the equipment and chemicals needed for the event - a huge thank you to the University of Manchester Chemistry Department who have furnished us with everything we need at no expense to us.

It was a little hairy transporting the chemicals across town to MOSI but I had a helper (thanks Jenny!) and additional people at both ends to pack the car and we managed to make it safely to MOSI without any angry taxis driving into the back of us and freezing us all with a burst container of liquid nitrogen!

It has been hugely gratifying to get to the end of today and see everything set up ready to go tomorrow. I hope very much we get the mixed audience we are looking for tomorrow and that they all enjoy the events. These events are a part of something bigger - we need to be actively making public science events accessible to as many people as possible. Yes it's hard work, yes it can be expensive, but it is all worth it to enable everyone to share the wonder of science. Funders take note, we need more money to make as many events accessible to as many people as possible! And organizers, we need to be considering all kinds of people when planning our events to enable as many people as possible to attend. Even simple actions - a touch table here, a hearing loop there, or a bus to get people to the venue, can open up your event to a whole new world of people. It's time to share our expertise and maybe next year Manchester Science Festival, and our other events during the rest of the year, will be a sell-out to a diverse audience and we can confidently express satisfaction at having engaged new people with science.

Spring forward, fall back...

That's right - it's that weekend again, when the clocks go back for the end of British Summer Time.

Good way to remember if it's forward or back? "Spring forward, fall back" (ok it's a bit American... but it works!)

The change happens on Saturday night/ Sunday morning so don't forget - or you'll be an hour early for everything on Sunday!

Our Kid

Monday saw the launch of Nowgen's project, Our Kid, celebrating 60 years of the NHS.

As part of it, they've made an interactive exhibition stand, and also a graphic novel detailing the experiences of teenagers with restricted growth.

Next week, they're launching a series of free debates and talks around health - IVF, leukaemia, TB and MMR - and of course a chance to see Our Kid for yourself at Manchester's Central Library.

TV galore!

Looks like we're taking over BBC NW Tonight!

Ruth's in the studio doing a demo, we've all been filmed and interviewed at Piccadilly station, and there's even some extras on their website...

And we've made the front page of BBC Manchester online.

All in all, a good haul!

BIG bang projection!

Wow! We're well impressed - thanks guys!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Last weekend's Yellow Trailblazer

While the Festival is warming up to start on this weekend, Building Initiative (an international group of architects and urbanists) was one of this year's trailblazers. Last Saturday (the 18th) we invited for a critical walking trail in Manchester. The weather was brilliant and we had a great time with a lot of inspiring discussions.

We started at CUBE gallery (where we present our project "How Yellow is Manchester?"), walked to Piccadilly Garden and went on to the Northern Quarter. There we "left" the inner city centre for exploring Strangeways. We were wondering what is green about the Greenquarter. We saw the beautiful buildings and lonely streets near the prison. And did you know that there is a Sikh temple hidden in-between all the wholesale and business?

We collected these and more thoughts about and places in Manchester in our publication Yellow Press. Please have a look at our website or drop in at CUBE gallery to pick up a copy of our free newspaper that tries a fresh and critical look at Manchester's current city planning!

Not all half-term fun and games...

Apart from all the obvious family half-term fun, there are loads of debates, talks and more for adults and teenagers.

Can we live without oil?

Should kids who haven’t had the MMR jab be excluded from school?

Are there aliens out there?

What is the potential for a cosmic catastrophe from astronomical phenomena?

Plus Stephen Baxter talking about his writing, Martin Rowson cartooning and much more!

Have a leaf through the website - then book and bring your colleagues and mates.

See you at something over the next week and more then!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Big bang imminent!

Bring on Saturday’s big bang – Manchester Science Festival is about to kick off!

There’s loads of half-term fun for all the family, as well as hot topics and current issues to be explored each day.

Talk to a futurologist, debate controversial ideas, spot our science buskers, walk the city, hear the river Mersey’s story, use BSL signs for science, do chemistry with cabbage, and join the!

With each of the nine days packed full of things to do and see, it’s impossible to highlight everything here. Go on the website and search by day, venue, theme or take a random pick -

And keep an eye out for our buskers at Piccadilly station, entertaining leisure travellers and commuters alike…

Big Science Read is really gathering pace now, with the big weekend of events on the 25-26 October. All the books and events are listed on

Amongst other things, you can hear one of the UK’s leading sci fi writers, Stephen Baxter - book now – limited places! You can also join an intriguing exploration between imagination, language and maths: find out more details and book here.

Hope to see you at something on the weekend – and spread the word!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Science busking

This week at MOSI we had some science busking training which went really well and prepared the presenters and volunteers with skills to take with them to Piccadilly station, Arndale market and the Trafford centre to teach unsuspecting members of the public science!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Press coverage for the schools tour

The Manchester Science Festival got several mentions in local news reports on Thursday 16th and Friday 17th October.

The main hook of each was the guest lecturer at Moorside High, Steve Pearce, who has recently been commissioned by NASA to develop a potion which resembles the smell of spacce. Each report mentions the Manchester Science Festival which is great!

Please see the following links:

Channel M

BBC NW Tonight

Manchester Evening News

The Telegraph

Schools Tour Complete

The 10 day schools tour finished this week and was a HUGE success.

In the period leading up to the festival, a range of key partner organisations delivered a series of major one-day events in each Greater Manchester local authority. The pupils had chance to particupate in an interactive, demonstration-packed lecture by a high-profile scientist; a carousel of interactive activities; and a “hot news” workshop held by the Manchester Museum.

During the workshop part of the “How Science Works” events, groups of students produced exhibits based on a hot science topic which is in the news. The best of these will receive a prize for their school (kindly provided by Phillip Harris) and the chance to have their work exhibited at Museum of Science and Industry during the Festival. See our listings section for further details.

The 10 day schools tour finished this week and was a HUGE success. May thanks go to all involved including: STEMNET; the Universities of Bolton, Manchester, and Salford; the Manchester Museum; the Royal Institution; the Museum of Science and Industry; The BA; the Healthcare Scientist Network; and The Greater Manchester STEM Centre.

Friday, 17 October 2008

The story so far...

The story so far is a good one!

Not only did the RCUK debate on ageing go really well on Tuesday, but last night, we launched two major elements of the programme - the Yellow show at CUBE and our collaboration with the Literature Festival.

Both events were really well attended and had a great buzz - let's just hope we can carry that through next week and into the festival itself!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

The smell of space?

BBC NW Tonight caught up with our festival education programme schools tour today to find out about research into the smell of space.

Watch it here!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

How cool is...


Love it!

Big Science Read highlights

Big Science Read is really gathering pace now, looking forward to the weekend of events on the 25-26 October.

A few things to draw your attention to in particular:

There’s a great chance to hear one of the UK’s leading sci fi writers, Stephen Baxter, as part of the BSR weekend. Find out more details and book here.

Also one of the many things that’s happening that weekend is “It looks like you’re writing a letter”, and “Zeroes and ones” – an intriguing exploration between imagination, language and maths. Find out more details and book here.

NOTE - change to schedule: the “Vvroop Vvroop” comic event has been moved to the 18th at the Lass O’Gowrie (not the 25th as publicised).

It comes to us all...

So the debate last night was fascinating - great input from the three presenters and some really insightful feedback and points from the floor too.

Afterwards, I was pondering that a lot of people seemed to have quite strong opinions on the subject. I guess we do all have experience of ageing in some way, and therefore people have a certain personal "expertise" to bring to the debate. And that seems to be quite markedly different from a (technical) topic like stem cells, which we've debated in the past...

Related to all this, the BBC news site had a great article the other month about ageing, death and dying. You might be interested to take a look.

Thanks to Manchester Museum for hosting, to the volunteers for helping out, to RCUK for their support and of course, to Trevor, Eileen, Marcus and Marco for their input. And thanks to everyone who came depsite the rain and distinctly autumnal weather!

See you at the Blade Runner screening next week, or something else in the festival?

Monday, 13 October 2008

The science of getting older...

It comes to us all so I reckon it's probably worth knowing a bit about its possible impacts. Ageing populations are not just an issue for society, but for all of us who are growing older and living longer. Come along tomorrow and find out more from our expert panel and debate the issues.

"When I'm 164...": a debate about the impacts of ageing
14 October, 6.30pm, Manchester Museum

Join us for a debate about the impacts of ageing populations, how our bodies age, and the need for lifetime homes and communities. There will be three expert angles in on the topic followed by an audience debate.

Hosted by Prof Trevor Cox, speakers include Prof Marcus Ormerod (University of Salford), Prof Marco Narici (MMU), and Prof Eileen Fairhurst MBE (MMU).

Supported by RCUK, the Manchester Beacon for Public Engagement, and Full of Life Festival.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Big Science Read - coming soon to a library near you!

The Big Science Read invites you to explore, re-discover and get excited about science-themed books.

As part of the campaign, there are author readings, science experiements and writing workshops coming soon to local public libraries around Greater Manchester. Come along to spark your imagination and find out more about some fascinating subjects. There are more details on the Big Science Read site.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Join us for Yellow Trail Manchester, Saturday 18th, 10 am!

Building Initiative is a collaborative group of architects, urbanists and artists with a core interest in the relationship between buildings and social space, and the possibilities this can create for urban life. The group were invited by CUBE gallery to exhibit their ongoing project Yellow Space, which was originally developed for the contested urban situation in Belfast.

Thus, as we're now in Manchester, we decided to participate in the science festival, too!

We have developed Yellow Trail Manchester, a critical walking trail that explores Manchester’s contemporary zones of transition, creating an opportunity to reflect on social space and public life in the city.

Yellow Trail Manchester tries to encourage people to explore the role of the built environment in enabling and constructing different forms of social life. Through critical perception at specific locations, the trail aims to encourage the viewer to think about alternative strategies of planning culture.

Join us for Yellow Trail on Saturday, 18th October, 10 a.m. starting at CUBE gallery, 113-115 Portland Street!

You're also very welcome to attend the opening of our show at CUBE gallery on Thursday, 16th October, 6 p.m.!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Making Sense of Radiation

You may have seen an article in the Daily Mail, the Guardian online or heard it on the radio 4 Today programme this morning talking about a new guide to Making Sense of Radiation. The guide was produced by Sense about Science, a national charity dedicated to debunking myths of science.

The report (available here) is written by leading scientists, engineers and medical professionals and helps people to question things they’ve heard or read about radiation. It contains information showing that products on the market which claim to protect people from radiation exploit unfounded fears and generally don't do what they claim! The report also explains current evidence which shows that wi-fi, mobiles phones and masts have not been shown to have harmful effects.

Sense about Science have also got a range of other reports out and their website has some really useful information on recent reports and stories that have been picked up in the media. Recent project include work on detox products, science for celebrities, GM foods and stem cell research.

The Elements...

Monday, 6 October 2008

The science of getting older...

It comes to us all and if for no other reason, that's a great incentive to come along to our first trailblazer to find out the impacts of ageing on our bodies, our minds and wider society...

“When I’m 164…”: a debate about the impacts of ageing

Tuesday 14 October, 6.30pm-8.30pm - The Manchester Museum
Booking details: FREE. To book in advance or for more information, call 0161 275 2648

Join us for a debate about the impacts of ageing populations, how our bodies age, and the need for lifetime homes and communities. There will be three expert angles in on the topic followed by an audience debate. Hosted by Prof Trevor Cox, speakers include Prof Marcus Ormerod (University of Salford), Prof Marco Narici (MMU), and Prof Eileen Fairhurst MBE (MMU). Supported by RCUK, the Manchester Beacon for Public Engagement, and Full of Life Festival.

Guest bloggers...

You might already have noticed that we've invited some people working on the festival with us to join us in blogging over the next month - look out for some new names and other views in the coming days and weeks...

Friday, 3 October 2008

Fire Tornado!

Yesterday myself (Marieke Navin, Science Communication Officer at the Museum of Science and Industry) and presenter Howard Sharples got up close and personal with a fire tornado to illustrate some visual science for the launch of Manchester Science Festival. To work the fire tornado you light a flame at the centre of the drum, spin the drum which gives spin to the air molecules that hit the hot air around the flame, and raise up in a vortex like a tornado. We had a few teething problems with Howard over-zealously span the drum and tipped the whole thing over (on fire!) twice, and we thought we'd have to cancel the photo-shoot. But luckily with a bit of perseverance and some wooden blocks we managed to stabilise the device and shooting began! The article appeared in the MEN today, so check it out.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Fire in the museum!

The fire tornado at today's press launch!

Launch and live site!

It's launch day today! And the website's gone live - go feast your eyes at!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

LHC update

We mentioned a few weeks ago that the Large Hadron Collider was about to start work. You'll have noticed that we're all still here and the world didn't end! After a great start and almost to good to be true first few days, a technical failure on September 19th has meant that repairs are needed to some large sections of the ring.

These repairs are causing a delay and the LHC have recently announced that the collider will not be restarted until next spring!

To keep up to date with all the latest information, catching up with the scientific questions and even have a go at running your own collider go to the LHC website

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Good Bye Liverpool...... Hello Manchester!

I've now been back from Liverpool for a couple of days and think I have just about recovered from two days in the train station!

Science busking was great fun, thanks to everyone who came and helped out, we couldn't have done it without you especially David, Louise and Marieke. Although I've done that kind of things a couple of times before I've never done it quite so up close and with truly "household" equipment, I actually learned a lot including how to make a very scary bunny even more scary! If you want to learn how to make the wall grow, see a tame tornado or free yourself from a deceivingly simple looking knotted rope, then come along and join us all out and about busking in Manchester during the Manchester Science Festival. We'll be at Piccadilly train station on the 23, 24, 27, 28 October AND in the Trafford Centre on the 30 October, how can you miss us!

While in Liverpool I also managed to get to a session on communicating science ideas. The session was a really interesting mix of people from different backgrounds and sectors ranging from TV production to school teachers, funders to practitioners. Some great ideas were raised and it made me think about how I communicate and how we work as a festival.

Thanks to the BA for a lovely week, the chance to busk in the station and see a giant spider on the side of a building next to the station (very conveniently arranged for us I thought) although I'm still pretty sure that our expanding spider was better!

See you all in Manchester in a few weeks.


I spent a really interesting and informative half-day yesterday helping judge the BA perspectives poster competition. The idea is that scientists and researchers think about the social and ethical implications and impacts of their work, make a poster about it and then stand for three half days talking to the public about it (and us judges!). The topics ranged from women consenting to share eggs to nano technology to body clocks to malaria. Walking round to speak to 10 of the entrants about their work and pressing them on their views and opinions made the posters really come alive.

I think I was coming at it very differently to some of the other judges (more glossy mag or train station, than academic conference), but that only made it more interesting... I somehow also ended up on the final moderating panel of four to help choose the winner and runners up, which meant another bite of the cherry with regards to seeing even more early career scientists displaying and talking about their work. I was pleased with the final decisions we made as a judging panel - I thought it reflected the balance of topics and quality of work well. And well done to all involved!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Science station

Us busking at Lime St station in Liverpool this afternoon as part of the build up to the BA Festival this week and the Manchester festival in October...

Thursday, 4 September 2008


We're now less than a week until physicists in Geneva switch on the massive experiment at CERN known as the LHC (Large Hadron Colider).

They're going to recreate the moments immediately after the Big Bang - and if all goes well they won't accidentally create a black hole in the process! (Though I am assured if they do, it'll be so instanteaneous that none of us, even them, will ever know it happened).

In celebration of this momentus event, the Manchester BBC Big Screen is showing some fizz-ics short films from this Saturday as part of the build up. Catch them before the black hole catches us!

Monday, 1 September 2008

This coming weekend...

There's something secret and incredible coming to the streets of Liverpool this weekend - quite a mystery!

But it's good timing for us and The BA Festival since we'll be science busking in Lime St Station on Fri 5 (12-6), Sat 6 and Sun 7 (both 11-4).

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The BA Festival of Science Liverpool, 6-11 September 2008

The BA Festival of Science is coming to Liverpool from 6-11 September, bringing over 350 of the UK’s top scientists and engineers to discuss the latest developments in science with the public. There are around 150 events to chose from, taking place across Liverpool and beyond.

From the latest research news and debates about the most topical and challenging issues of our time, to science musicals, exhibitions and hands-on entertainment, the Festival provides an opportunity to meet and talk with many stimulating and entertaining scientists, journalists, authors and artists.

To kick it all off, we have our family weekend ‘Science Explosion at the World Museum’ to be opened by TV personality Adam Hart-Davis with hands- on fun and activities for all.
Ever wanted to run faster than a speeding bullet, curious if robots have feelings of their own or know how txt messages can solve crimes? Come along and find out the answers to such questions as well as getting involved in exhibitions and performances in and around Liverpool helping to stimulate your minds and be excited by science.

There is also the chance to discuss current hot topics, enjoy some unique street theatre from the Science Butlers, find out about the science of superheroes, use poetry to communicate the impact of climate change on biodiversity, and join best-selling crime authors and top forensic experts to discover the science behind the stories.

Learn all about the science of sport and how to bend it like Beckham, join us in debate about the use of technology in sport and whether it is starting to outweigh natural talent. Discover if life is really out there, go on the search for extraterrestrial life, or find out what role science has to play in culture. All this and much, much more…

This is just a handful of the 150 events happening this September. With events ranging from topics on astronomy, to the food we eat to events on science and culture the BA festival of science is a must for all giving you the opportunity to question top scientists, and find how science can make a difference to your lives.

For more information please visit or ring 020 7019 4947. Pick and book your events, and be prepared to be entertained, intrigued and amazed by science. We hope to see you there…

Find us on facebook or join our blog:

Friday, 15 August 2008

Maths made interesting...

Not my phrase btw! Radio4's Today programme had this on yesterday:-

Maths has long been associated with difficult school lessons and dreary household calculations, but for Rob Eastaway, author of How Many Socks Make a Pair, this does not have to be the case. See if you can answer his surprisingly interesting maths puzzles.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The BA Festival of Science...

... is coming to Liverpool.

... happens 6-11 September.

... now has a blog!

Science GCSE

So it's not a festival but it's an issue that comes up a lot when we're talking about science learning. Should students who do well in science at 14 have the right to take GCSEs in three separate science subjects? Should we make all students study "science" GCSE which includes parts of Physics, Chemistry and Biology or is a new award which focuses on the scientific method what we need to create a scientifically literate society?

The CBI thinks that all pupils who do well in their Science SAT at 14 should be offered the chance to study three separate sciences at GCSE (read the article here). I think this is a great idea, but I'm not sure how they're going to get enough specialist teachers or make schools change their timetables to fit in more science lessons.

Monday, 11 August 2008

"Celebrating Science as Culture"

This Science article captures some of what we're trying to do in our own humble way here in Manchester. OK, so we're not the World Science Festival, with their scale, ticket prices or Disney Imagineers (!), but we are at least trying to do the same thing - get science put alongside the rest of popular culture to allow people to interact and be inspired.

The other good thing to note is that even Lawrence Krauss struggles with my ever-burning question - it might all be good fun, but where's the science?


Yep, we've got a Manchester Science Festival facebook group now, so come on over and join us...

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Big Science Read

The site's live and voting's begun - and any day now the BSR events list will go up there too. Check back soon!

Programming and design

Yep you've guessed it - July's silence till now means that we're deep in the process of finalising the programme and passing it to the web and print designers. No mean feat when you're talking about 30 partner venues, 150+ events and what feels like hundred of logos, images, etc.

Of course the programme will eventually go public - we'd think it's likely to be September sometime, but watch this space.

Monday, 14 July 2008

The Art and Craft of Saving the World

Last month saw an interesting symposium held in London to explore the relationships between craft and climate change inspired by the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef exhibition at The Hayward (11 June - 17 August 2008). With a keynote discussion from the co-directors of the Institute for Figuring and panel members from the craft council and artists, sculptors and scientists from all over the world, the discussions were lively and lots of interesting points about engaging the public with scientific issues were raised.

For details of this and other events from the Institute for Figuring go to their home page.

Comments from the first Ideas Cafe

Last week saw the first Ideas Cafe at the Manchester Museum. Some really ... interesting ideas came out of it, although if I'm being honest I'm not sure a "smog disco" on roller skates is something I want to try and write a risk assessment for!

There were also more realistic ideas from the other groups, I liked the idea of creating a flag for Manchester and investigating the ecological past of Manchester. The group that wanted to put on talks about space for children obviously knew I was there as that's what I used to do. Other great ideas included an art exhibition based on dental images and equipment and an investigation of the history of Science in Manchester.

Doorstep gave us a new (well new for me) way of thinking about projects which lead us to these more unusual ideas.

If you want to add your own ideas for the Manchester Science Festival then come along to the next Ideas Cafe on 22nd July at the MOSI cafe, reserve your place here. Everyone with ideas for what they want in the festival is welcome to come along and get involved, I look forward to meeting more of you there.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Another Ideas Cafe... 22 July

The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in association with the Manchester Beacon for Public Engagement presents...


6.00pm, Tuesday July 22nd, Museum of Science and Industry Cafe, Liverpool Road, Castlefield, Manchester


Manchester Science Festival aims to enthuse and inspire everyone about science, technology and engineering. This is your chance to get involved and influence the programming of the festival, taking place in venues across Manchester in October and November. Festival Director, Laura Drane will be on hand to explain more about the 2008 themes which are:

"Manchesticity" - the city's endeavours, achievements, people, places and ideas

Mind & Body - activities and topics about our brains and brawn

Planet - exploring our impact on and use of the earth, and looking into space

The Elements - atoms; earth, wind, water, fire; and of course, the weather!


Community groups, academics, artists, venue owners, curators, healthcare professionals, technologists, creatives, students, Manchester fact anybody with an interest in science. Everybody welcome. We'll bring the cafe - you bring the ideas.


Reserve your place online at:

For further information on The Manchester Beacon for Public Engagement - a partnership connecting people, places and knowledge click here:

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Big Science Read Bang!

Well, the BSR launch got us off to a flying start - with lots of coverage The Times (a related piece by Lucy Hawking and a list of the great-and-good's best books*), and a great weekend of events at Jodrell Bank!

From here, we hope, infinity and beyond...!

*FYI - Terry Pratchett chose The Origin of Species - have a look at the rest to be impressed and surprised in equal measure!

Passing Down

Helen Clare is going to be creating some poetry for the festival on the theme of family histories and genetic inheritance, under the title Passing Down.

You might remember last year she was MOSI's poet in residence, with a project called Weaving Words.

She's started a blog - called Genes and Stories - to track the project so do pop over and see what she's up to...

Ideas cafe...

Cafe Scientifique, in association with the Manchester Beacon for Public Engagement presents...


6.30pm, Monday July 7th, Cafe Couture at the Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, Manchester

Manchester Science Festival aims to enthuse and inspire everyone about science, technology and engineering. This is your chance to get involved and influence the programming of the festival, taking place in venues across Manchester in October and November. Festival Director, Laura Drane will be on hand to explain more about the 2008 themes which are:

"Manchesticity" - the city's endeavours, achievements, people, places and ideas
Mind & Body - activities and topics about our brains and brawn
Planet - exploring our impact on and use of the earth, and looking into space
The Elements - atoms; earth, wind, water, fire; and of course, the weather!

Community groups, academics, artists, venue owners, curators, healthcare professionals, technologists, creatives, students, Manchester fact anybody with an interest in science. Everybody welcome. We'll bring the cafe - you bring the ideas.

Reserve your place online at

For further information on The Manchester Beacon for Public Engagement - a partnership connecting people, places and knowledge go to:

Friday, 13 June 2008

Big Science Read launch

Jodrell Bank will be running its second Literary Weekend 'First Move.2' on June 13th and 14th.

During the weekend there's a chance to hear celebrated authors Brian Aldiss and Piers Bizony, build rockets and hear about the work of Jodrell Bank live from astronomers who work there. The weekend also marks the launch of the Big Science Read—an initiative to get people reading and talking about the exciting things that happen in Science and Science Fiction!

Friday 13th June
7.30pm: Award-winning science journalist and space historian Piers Bizony will talk about 'The Culture of Spaceflight' in our 'Hot Spot' Pavilion. He is the author of The Man Who Ran the Moon, Atom, Space50 and How to Build Your Own Space Ship, amongst others.

Saturday 14th June
1.30pm: Rocket Workshop: Come and find out how rockets work—and see how far you can make yours fly! This workshop is free of charge, but places are limited. Please call 01477 571339 to book.

7.30pm: Celebrated Science Fiction Author Brian Aldiss will talk about 'Science and Civilisation' in our 'Hot Spot' Pavilion. He is the author of books too numerous to list here, but 'A Science Fiction Omnibus' came out in November last year and stormed the Science Fiction charts.
The bar will be open each evening from 7pm and there will be an opportunity to ask the authors questions about their work after their talks. There will also be a book-signing at the end of the events. Tickets are £5.00 per person per event and are available from Jodrell Bank Visitor Centre by calling 01477 571339.

The weekend marks the launch of the Big Science Read in collaboration with the Manchester Science Festival and the Manchester Literature Festival. This is an opportunity for people of all ages to explore, re-discover and get excited about science-themed books.

The bookshop for the weekend will be Simply Books in Bramhall. First Move.2 is in association with The Times Books. The Hot Spot Pavilion is funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

It's oh so quiet... | We'll be back!

We've been hibernating over the winter... but the sun's bringing us back out of our burrow.

More soon...