Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Ice ice baby... Happy Christmas from Manchester Science Festival

With Christmas day fast approaching, many of you out there are pondering on fun activities to do before the presents are opened to keep bright minds occupied, or even what to do after Christmas to burn off those turkey dinner calories and get your eyes away from Christmas repeats. Well look no further, to help you on your quest, we at McrSciFest HQ, have a couple of ideas for you to try, all science related of course...

1) Get creative and crafty and try making the amazing ice cube necklace. ABC Australia always have great hands-on science activities and this is just one of our favourites, particularly for the Festive period.

2) Get your walking shoes on and get on a scientific stroll around Manchester. Why not try it on Christmas day when the city will be quiet and hopefully covered in now. We have a couple of options on the MSF website.

3) Microbe knitting! Our patterns are still available to make your very own knitted microbe and if you're quick enough you can pop some string on the top and get it on the tree! We just can' get enough of them. Cute, cute and more cute! Find the patterns on our interactive pages.

4) There's also loads going on in our fair city over Christmas. Check out Manchester Made Easy's blog which lists their top 10 things to do in Manchester. On the list in the new Da Vinci - the genius exhibition at MOSI. We love MOSI and the exhibition is really interesting - something for all ages. Be warned - you could spend a whole day there so don't turn up at 4pm like we did! It's fab!

We hope you enjoy our little suggestions over Christmas. We'll be back with more treats, trailblazers and of course the 2010 Manchester Science Festival next year!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Manchester Science Festival x

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

MSF Volunteer profile

Hello, my name's Carol and, amongst other things, I'm a scientist, a STEM Ambassador, and for the October half-term I was a volunteer Science Busker for the Manchester Science Festival. You may have seen me, and fellow buskers, in Piccadilly Train Station, the Trafford Centre, or out and about in Bolton. We had lots of different hands-on puzzles and experiments for you to try out. One of them was the *straw oboe* - a simple but effective demonstration of sound, vibration and pitch changes. All you need is a plastic straw, a pair of scissors and a lung full of air, and with a bit of practice, and a few friends, you can create your own straw oboe band! To check out me and an enthusiastic festival-goer trying out our straw oboes, watch our little You Tube video. For more information about some of the busking experiments that you can try at home now the Festival's over go to Try this at home page of the Festival website.

To find out more about becoming a STEM Ambassador, where you will have the opportunity to volunteer for the 2010 Manchester Science Festival, visit the Stemnet website.

Image courtesy of MonkeyJunkie on flickr.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Plastics: Ask the Experts

Visitors to Plastics: A valuable resource posed some interesting questions to the Manchester Polymer Group. Here are the questions and some answers:

Vimto Vicky says heya and smile

Becky advises us to try and stop global warming by not using as many aerosols and to hang our washing outside to dry (if is not raining)
Very useful comments Becky. However it is good to note that ozone depletion chemicals previously used in aerosols are now no longer used under an international agreement.

Am from Stockport “Why haven’t all new houses/builds got solar panels/cells”
Another good question. There may be cost and public acceptance issues that need to be addressed.

Daniel Lewis from Chorlton “Do you use solar power, hydropower, geothermal power or wind power more”
Assuming that your question relates to plastics production and recycling operations, hydropower is used in those countries that have the geographical capability and have invested in this technology. As far as we are aware solar and wind power can also be used for less power demanding operations. Investment is also starting in an Energy from Waste plant in Cheshire.

Annie “Why do things melt”
Melting is the result of enough heat energy being transferred into a material, such as chocolate, to turn it into a liquid. So when you eat chocolate, it melts in your mouth because the temperature of your mouth is higher than the temperature at which chocolate melts.

Rebecca from Chorlton “Where do plastics come from”
Hannah from Chorlton “Why is plastic such a common material”
Plastics come from crude oil or gas after refining and account for 4% of the fossil fuel resources. They appear to be in common use because they are very versatile and can be used in many different ways.

Isobel “Why cannot we recycle all plastic”
Good question. It is possible to recycle all thermoplastic type materials (but not the thermosets such as light switches etc). However it comes down to the economics and, in some cases, it costs more to generate the recycled plastic in comparison to the new material. This situation will probably change in the near future.

Christie and Alexa “How many times can a piece of plastic be recycled”
Plastic can be recycled many times. Tests have shown that reprocessing can be carried out ten times without any influence on appearance and performance. This depends on good separation and cleaning of the different plastic types. In reality some fresh plastic will be added at a low level to ensure good performance of the article.

Melon “When is the plastic taken and how can we take it there to be recycled”
Emily from Chorlton “Do you have to recycle to bins”
Jay who is 4 years old “Which recycle bin do you put plastics in”
All of Greater Manchester now collects plastic bottles via your BROWN bin

Arrianne who is 7 years old “How many chairs does it take to make a key ring”
Actually a key ring only uses a small amount of the plastic from a chair. A chair will probably make something like 200 key rings.

Thomas, 8 years old “What happens if you leave your plastic in the rain”
Ben from Stockport “Why do my toys turn white when I leave them in the garden”
Most plastics are water resistant and it is one of the reasons for their wide use.
However some of the pigments that are used to give nice bright colours are not very stable in sunlight and bleach.

Roof Tile – “What about the cost and weathering. Are they fire resistant?”
The roof tiles made from recycled plastic are fire resistant and have passed weathering tests. They are more expensive than conventional tile material but have a much lower carbon footprint.

Georgia “How many machines [for recycling plastics] have been sold and how long do they last for”
David replies “Hmmm a very simple question but not so easy to answer!! We manufacture such a wide range of equipment, and coupled with the fact that the press and shredder are only now really going into production. Here are some figures based around our core product and relevant machinery:
Manufacturing totals something like 36,500 including Heat press, Shredder, Injection Moulder, Vacuum Formers and Line Benders.
Our products are generally regarded as very robust and even in the classroom environment we still repair machines which are about 30 years old, most people change due to modern advancement rather than the machine wearing out, so I guess we could safely put a figure of about 20 years

Manchester Polymer Group would like to thank all of the children and adults who posted such a varied and challenging list of questions.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

2009 Josh Award winner announced

David Price from Science Made Simple has won this year's Joshua Phillips Award for Science Engagement. David is well known for his science busking, training and engaging presentation style. He was presented with the Award on Thursday at MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) at the Manchester Science Festival. Natalie Ireland, Festival Director said: "We're delight David has won this year's Award. David used to work at the Museum of Science and Industry and so it's very fitting that he has now won this Award. We are really looking forward to working with David over the next year". David will be presenting the Science of Sport on Sunday 1 November at MOSI on the lasy day of the Festival.

Friday, 30 October 2009

On the shoulders of giants

"On the shoulders of giants". The phrase Teresa Anderson used to describe our Bright Idea's speakers' inspiration for their work talking on Thursday evening an the University of Manchester, reflecting Issac Newton's famous words.

Tomorrow the people of Manchester have the opportunity to find out more about the great works of scientists from Manchester and this amazing, innovate and inspirational city of firsts.

Chris Norwood from Manchester Tourguides will lead an interactive walk around the city, complete with actors! To find out more, check out his blog ttp://4evrmanchester.wordpress.com/

Get yourselves along on Sunday 1 November at 11am. The tour starts at Manchester Museum. £5 adults, £2 child.

End of the Line

Imagine an ocean without fish.
Imagine your meals without seafood.
Imagine the global consequences.

This is the future if we do not stop, think and act.

The British Science Association are working with the Marine Conservation Society to offer you a showing of the film 'End of the Line'. The film premiered at the Sundance Festival earlier this year. Filmed over two years, The End of the Line follows the investigative reporter Charles Clover as he confronts politicians and celebrity restaurateurs, who exhibit little regard for the damage they are doing to the oceans. One of his allies is the former tuna farmer turned whistleblower Roberto Mielgo – on the trail of those destroying the world's magnificent bluefin tuna population. Filmed across the world – from the Straits of Gibraltar to the coasts of Senegal and Alaska to the Tokyo fish market – featuring top scientists, indigenous fishermen and fisheries enforcement officials, The End of the Line is a wake-up call to the world.

Following the film there will be a Q & A session with Sam Wilding a Fisheries Officer for the Marine Conservation Society.

View the trailer for the film here -

When: Sunday 1st November, 13.30 – 15.30
Where: The Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL
Who: Free. Open to everyone. The film is certified as PG and some scenes may by unsuitable for young children. Book a seat on 0161 275 2648.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Primate Communication

Human language is one of our most remarkable capacities. Trying to discover how this ability evolved is an extremely difficult challenge as spoken language has left no fossil remains. One way to approach this problem is to compare human communication to non-human primate communication. This allows us to identify elements of language that evolved a long time ago and are shared with other primates and those which are novel inventions that are unique to humans.

Katie Slocombe has undertaken a great deal of research into primate communication. This has involved some quite unusual fieldwork and lends itself wonderfully into a talk packed with entertaining tales from the jungle and a number of quite strange noises (some of which are made by Katie herself!). Katie has also put together an interactive game that you will be invited to play to see how well you would survive as a chimpanzee.

At the British Science Festival this year Katie was awarded the Charles Darwin Prize. This was particularly fitting as we are celebrating Darwin200 this year. It is 200 years since Darwin was born and 150 years since the groundbreaking publication of Darwin’s ‘On the origin of species’. Charles Darwin gathered the evidence that living things change over time - they evolve. Since his time, this idea has formed the basis for the science of biology. Darwin also suggested how evolution happens; his discovery of evolution by natural selection has been called "the single best idea anyone has ever had".
As part of the festivities marking these anniversaries The Manchester Museum are holding a Darwin Extravaganza all the way through to August 2010.

Audience: Families (11+)
Venue: The Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, M13 9PL
Date: Saturday 31st October
Time: 2 – 3 pm

Bright ideas - event this evening

To launch the Royal Society 350th Anniversary ‘Local Heroes’ events programme in the North West, some of Manchester’s Royal Society Fellows and Research Fellows will discuss their work and share their thoughts for the future. Four professors – Dame Nancy Rothwell, Stephen Furber, Robin Marshall and Andre Geim – will join us to focus on the latest developments in neuroscience, computer technology, particle physics and nanotechnology. Expect an inspiring and thought-provoking evening, as we reflect on this key Festival theme.

This event will be held this evening, at 7pm at University Place at the University of Manchester.

Please book online if you would like to attend, but spaces will also be available on the night.

Please note the line up alteration from advertised.

Drunk in Time

On Friday evening, you are invited to broaden your cultural horizons with a trip to the pub. Start the weekend with historian James Sumner on a light-headed stagger through scientific understandings of alcohol since 1600, as Isaac Newton, Humphry Davy and others ponder the great questions: Is wine alcoholic? Does rotting fish belong in beer? And what’s more harmful – microbes, or thunder?

James is a lecturer in the History of Technology at the Centre for the history of Science, Technology and Medicine. He had a most enjoyable time as a PhD student researching beer-brewing in the 1800s. He has gone on to consider the role and image of the computer in everyday British life.

The Lass O’Gowrie is a pub well-worth a trip – James says so and he is a man who knows his beer!

Audience: Adults

Venue: The Lass O’Gowrie, 36 Charles Street, Manchester

Date: Friday 30th October

Time: 6 – 7 pm

Cost: Free!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Working Memory - The new IQ

Would you like to learn how to make your brain grow?
Dr Tracy Alloway is currently researching working memory (our ability to remember and manipulate information) and playing a major part in increasing our understanding of how the brain works. Tomorrow she is going to be telling us, at the Manchester Museum, how the brain responds to training and what the best training tools are. Join us for an opportunity to try a sampler of a working memory brain trainer.

Dr Alloway, of Stirling University, won the Joseph Lister Award for this lecture at the British Science Festival in September this year. She is quoted as saying: ‘Working memory impacts on every aspect of how our brain works and, as a consequence, every aspect of our lives: from securing our survival, to making savvy business decisions, and controlling our emotions.’

Alloway developed the world’s first standardized working memory tests for educators – the Automated Working Memory Assessment (AWMA) and the Working Memory Rating Scale. The AWMA is the first tool for educators to screen individuals for memory impairments and to date has been used to screen over 4000 children in the UK.

Audience: Adults
Venue: The Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, M13 9PL
Date: Thursday 29th October
Time: 12.30 – 13.30
Cost and Booking Info: Free. To guarantee a seat please reserve your place by calling the museum on 0161 275 2648

Didsbury SciBar

Thank you to everyone who joined us in Didsbury last night to hear Fred Loebinger tell us nothing at all about the sex lives of quarks and leptons and lots about the other properties of these sub-atomic paticles. Fred did a fantastic job at highlighting the work Manchester researchers have done over (many) years in pushing the boundaries of particle physics. Those of us who were there will, I am sure, eagerly await news from CERN later on this year (before Christmas we were promised!). Will they find evidence of squarks or winos (yes, really)?

Thank you Fred and thanks to all of you who came along, carried chairs, asked questions and took lead roles as colourful quarks in the bear pit.

Monday, 26 October 2009

How, where, who, when, what?

Do you think you know your neutrons from your electrons? Fancy a trip to the pub after a long day at work?
Test your knowledge at the science-themed pub quiz brought to you by the the British Science Association. Make the most of all the information your have absorbed throughout Manchester Science Festival and you could win some fabulous prizes. If you discover you aren't going to be the next Einstein, we will still be on hand to dazzle you with table-top experiments, free goodies, and of course there will be plenty of beer to help you drown your sorrows or celebrate your swattiness.
The quiz is taking place on Tuesday 27th October, from 8 pm, upstairs at Kro Bar on Oxford Road (opposite the students union). Entry is free!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Pandemic event - Monday 26 October

The recent outbreak of swine flu (H1N1) means news stories are in the papers and on our TVs every day. The number of new cases doubled last week to 53,000 and the NSH has been told to “brace itself” and prepare for increased pressure to cope. The first vaccination programme begins this week, where the first 14 million people seen as a priority, receive the new vaccine. Manchester Science Festival is holding an event, Pandemic, tomorrow at 6.30pm at the Museum of Science and Industry giving you the chance to find out more about swine flu, strategy in the North West and an opportunity to ask your questions.

Professor Joanna Verran, a microbiologist from Manchester Metropolitan University and Dr David Baxter, Lecturer in public health from the University of Manchester, will join us. This event will be chaired by Professor Michael Warbouys, from the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

This is your chance to find out all you want to know about pandemics and ask the experts your questions.

Monday 25 October, 6.30pm – 8.00pm
Museum of Science and Industry
Booking advised http://msfpandemic.eventbrite.com/, but seats available on the evening

Tick, tock, the clocks have changed.

Quick note to say the clocks have changed now winter is setting in... they've gone back an hour, so make sure you turn up to any events at the right time!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Baba Brinkman's on his way.

Here at Manchester Museum, we’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of pop rapper Baba Brinkman. Who? Come and see. He’s the only guy we know who can rap his way through thousands of years of evolution in a matter of minutes.

His movements are being tracked as we speak. He’s currently high above the sky speeding his way to the Museum and should be with us by 6pm tonight. Drinks will be available while you wait and the best bit is, it’s free.

Why not prepare yourselves for this entertaining evening and gen up on all that evolution stuff in our exhibition Charles Darwin: evolution of a scientist.

See you later in the Museum foyer at 6pm. Baba will be waiting to greet you.

Busk a Move

Warning, warning, the Manchester Science Festival Buskers have broken free and are out and about around the city spreading their fun, and a little magical brand of science.

First sightings seem to have placed the purple t-shirted ones in Piccadilly station, please feel free to approach them - they don't bite, although they may hand you a program for events occurring during the festival. So if you hear their call of straw oboes or see some balancing tricks, just head over and see if they're simple yet spectacular science can brighten your day.

Remember to keep up to date by checking our website and hearing us tweet

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Planets, Stars and Space Rocks

Is there anything that you want to know about space but haven’t got anyone to ask? Come along to the Manchester Museum and ‘Ask an Astronomer’. We are going to be spending the day trawling through the universe looking at all sorts of exciting things from constellations of stars, special bits of equipment that are used by real astronauts, and rocks which have fallen to the Earth from outer space. There are going to be a number of different things happening for people of all ages including listening to sounds from space and creating your own starry myth.

Where: The Manchester Museum

When: Wednesday 28th October, 11.00 – 4.00

Who: suitable for all ages

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

MSF schools programme over for another year!

We've been a bit quiet on the old blog this week as we've been at the MSF School's programme. For the last two days year 8 students have been making the loudest of noises, the grossest of slimes and the biggest of bangs at Pure nightclub and Odeon cinema at the Printworks in Manchester. It was so much fun, the kids were enthusiastic and the activities on offer were fantastic.

We had loads of hands-on fun in Speedy Science, making crafty creatures,
science busking, exploring the deep sea, racing the world's first computer, Baby, and getting on the BBC green screen. Workshops ranged from CSI to Egg crash madness. And then Steve Rossington's explosive (literally!) chemistry show, really packed a punch.

A massive thank you to those involved, especially the students for
making it such an enjoyable two days.

We'll be back with more for schools next year, but in the meantime, check out some pics on flickr and get along to the main festival programme starting on Saturday.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Does it rain more at the weekend? Help us find out!

We want you to help us investigate! Make your own rain gauge and measure rainfall in your garden during Manchester Science Festival. We need your results to find out if it really does rain more at the weekend rather than during the week.

Find out more and check out our online pack for you to measure rainfall at home and take part in our rain experiment:


Andy Russell who is running the experiment will then run an event at MOSI for those who want to come along to find out the results or get advice from the expert!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Manchester, the gateway to the North and beyond!

Manchester has often been considered the gateway to the North of England, but it is much more than that. It has a vast array of strong heritages, one of the first things that springs to mind is that of the Music, the city has spawned bands such as Oasis, The Stone Roses and Jay Kay of Jamiroquai, but there is more to this city than music; today marks the opening of Media City in Salford and thus brings about the future of the city as a media haven. However throughout it's history Manchester has been a world leader - whether it was in particle physics or in music, and it is this fact that the 2009 Manchester Science festival hopes to celebrate with it's events revolving around Manchesticity.

Manchester’s history though is not simply built on the back of celebrities or academics but it is steeped in the swat of it's workers; the industrial revolution shaped Manchester and it was Manchester that was at the forefront of transportation developments from railways to canals. All this history is evident today at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.

It was with all this in mind that the 2009 Manchester Science Festival decided to make Manchesticity one of it's themes.

(image from http://north.iwm.org.uk/server/show/conMediaFile.79888)

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Quiz time!

Does your local pub run a quiz? If so, we would like to make their planning easier and give them a free pack of questions.

There are a range of question rounds to allow everyone to flex their brain muscles and show off the facts that they have stored away for a rainy day. The rounds include 'All about Manchester', 'A Pub-lovers Round' and an 'Astronomical Music Round'.

If you would like to get a copy of the quiz please get in touch with Natalie Lane of the British Science Association (natalie.lane@britishscienceassociation.org).

Friday, 9 October 2009

Darwinism vs. Creationism?

Thomas Dixon will argue on Monday at the Manchester Museum, that we've become accustomed to seeing Darwinism as being fundamentally in conflict with faith. In this trailblazer for the Manchester Science Festival he will explore how conflict can arise, by unpicking the cultural, legal and political factors which have fuelled the confrontation between evolution and Christian creationism in America over the last fifty years.

This is just one of many trailblazing activities that are going on in the build up to the 2009 Manchester Science Festival; and one of a number of talks and presentations revolving around Darwin and his life and work, so check out website for more information.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Thunderbirds are....GO, well maybe but only if the science works

On Monday 26th October 2009, we discover if the vehicles of the fictional and futuristic (it was set in 2065) International Rescue would work in reality. Could Thunderbird 1 actually fly at 15000 mph, could Thunderbird 3 actually fly into space and back successfully. The only problem we have to contend with is making sure these secrets aren't exposed to the villainous Hood, but we're pretty sure our Festival Assistants could handle him if he showed up.

As well as Thunderbirds Dr Phil Atcliffe of the University of Salford,will explore the practicality, space, and air worthiness of vehicles from a number of other Sci-Fi TV series.

This event will be taking place at Deans Activity Center in Swinton from 18:00 till 20:00, and although free you'll need to book here. Don't forget this is just one of a number of events happening in Salford for the 2009 Manchester festival of Science.

Image courtesy of http://internationalrescue.tripod.com/thunderbirdsarego/id2.html

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Microbe knitting patterns live!

Science and knitting?

That's right... we have a knitting event at this year's Festival. We'll be knitting microorganisms and learning about the science of swine flu, the common cold and more. If you can't make it or want to help though, we need a selection of finished products before the event for photos and as examples on the day:

Download our amazing microbe knitting patterns (PDF 2MB)

Please send your finished products to: Knitted Microbes, Manchester Science Festival, Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool Road, Castlefield, Manchester, M3 4FP or drop them at reception with "Knitted Microbes, Manchester Science Festival" labelled on them. Be sure to include your details so we know who's helped! You can also upload your own pics to our flickr group!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

MSF Science buskers at the ready...

We've been training up our fantasic, enthusiastic science buskers this week. Our volunteers, which have been recruited as Stem Ambassadors, have been getting to grips with science demonstrations and tricks to prepare themselves for science busking. We'll be getting out and about on the streets of Manchester in the weeks running up to and during the Festival to entertain the crowds and engage the unsuspecting with science.

Check out some pictures on the BBC website and keep your eyes peeled!

Monday, 21 September 2009


The Manchester Science Festival is set to begin with a bang or should that be a screech as the interactive Scream experiment goes live tomorrow. It aims to find the best scream and also uncover why some screams may be scarier than others. Check this video our to see our Festival Director talking about the science behind the experiment, and see Kid British taking part. Keep an eye out for some press coverage tomorrow, and keep checking http://www.manchestersciencefestival.com/scream

Friday, 18 September 2009

Website - new look and event listing live!

Get yourself to our new look website pronto to check out the events programme which has just gone live! Loads of events to choose from... Dr Bunhead and Nick Arnold are our headline shows for families, as well as loads of workshops, fun exhibitions and more. For adults, try a walk or two, check out some of our author talks or join in one of our many debates. There's a packed programme for the whole family. We're excited - hope you are too!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Programme going live soon!

It's all go here at MSF towers. Our full events listing will be going live on the website over the next few days and we've got a really exciting programme lined up. Keep your eyes peeled for our lovely Festival programmes around Manchester too! And a science busker or a few...


Thursday, 20 August 2009

We need you!

We are seeking volunteers to help during the Festival (24 Oct - 1 Nov) and at the Schools' Programme. Interested? More info about what opportunities are available, what to expect and how to register can be found on our volunteer pages.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Trafford Centre next week... and not for shopping!

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week we're taking science to masses at the Trafford Centre. Noisy toys will be there on Monday and Tuesday (apparently caused quite stir amongst the restaurants last year due to the noise!) and our famous science buskers will be wowing with their demos and tricks on Wednesday.

Pop along and see us at the Bandstand (next to the cinema) if you're heading that way to shop or catch a movie, or make a special visit to see us. Lots to do for kids, families and adults.

Monday 24 - Wednesday 26 August, 11am - 4pm at the Bandstand.

Monday, 20 July 2009

MSF moon and nature trailablazers coming up

We're continuing our series of summer trailblazers and we have two coming up in the next month...

Moon @ Conrnerhouse

We're taking part in the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Moon Landings. Francis French, author of In the shadow of the moon, will be giving a talk at the Museum of Science and Industry on Sunday. Later that evening, as a Manchester Science Festival trailblazer, Francis will be introducing a screening of the new film Moon, starting Sam Rockwell, at the Cornerhouse.

Venue: Cornerhouse
Sunday 26 July, 6.25pm

Tickets are available from the Cornerhouse for £7.00. Concessionary rates are available. The film is certificate 15.

Next up we're celebrating everything nature and Darwin related...

Big Saturday - Nature discovery day

A day of exploration and adventure! Visit the new Nature Discovery exploration area for younger children and their families; explore and create a giant cave and discover the many animals and plants that live there; recreate Charles Darwin's voyage to the Galapagos islands and encounter some of the animals, sealife and birds Darwin saw; learn about the local ecology outside the Museum; meet experts from the Museum and The University of Manchester; listen to storytelling or watch a family friendly film screening. Part of The Evolutionist Darwin extravaganza at The Manchester Museum.

You will also be able to go on a Darwin related walk brought to you by the Manchester Science Festival and Manchester Tourguides.

Venue: Manchester Museum
Saturday 8 August, 11am-4pm

Most activities are free and drop-in. Some activities may need to be booked on the day and may cost up to £1.50. All ages

This event is sponsored by the
British Ecological Society and is part of Manchester Science Festival series of trailblazers.

Moon landing anniversary celebrations

This week, unless you've had your head buried under the sand, you will probably know that today is the 40th anniversary of the first moon landings. To celebrate this loads of events and projects have been popping up all over the place... Jodrell Bank have been running a really interesting Moon Bounce competition - what would you have said if you had been the first person ever to land on the moon? They sent messages through their Lovell space telescope to the moon, so they would bounce of the surface and return again to Earth. Just brilliant. I would have probably said... "oh, it's not made of cheese then".

The Museum of Science and Industry have and are running a week of activities with talks Moon 40: History or Hoax running tomorrow, looking at the evidence behind the moon landings and some of the conspiracy theories behind this huge achievement. Author Francis French will be giving a talk and book signing about his book In the Shadow of the Moon on Sunday, detailing his first hand account of interviewing the first men on the moon.

Moon celebrations - Festival trailblazer

After this talk at MOSI, Francis French will be heading to the Cornerhouse to introduce a screening of the new film Moon, staring Sam Rockwell. This sci-fi film follows Sam, who is alone, working, on the moon. Strange things start to happen after an accident and the story unfolds. Film critic Mark Kermode is excited about this new film. In this clip he takes a look at the film and other moon based movies. Why not get yourself down to the screening at the Cornerhouse on Sunday 26 July at 6.25pm and benefit from a warm Manchester Science Festival introduction by Francis French. Tickets are £7.00 and can be booked online through the Cornerhouse.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Call for nominations for 2009 Josh Award

Karen Bultitude, 2008 Josh Award Winner Nominations for the 2009 Josh Award are now open. The Josh Award recognises excellent and innovation in science engagement and is open to anyone to anyone involved in science engagement.

Previous winners include Chris Smith from the Naked Scientists and Karen Bultitude from the science communication unit at the University of West England.

The award is named in memory of Josh Philips, Science Communication Officer at the Museum of Science and Industry, who died in November 2006. Josh was an excellent and much respected science communicator, whose outstanding career is recognised with this award.

If you know a scientist, practitioner or presenter who excells in science communication and you would like to consider nominating them for this award, more information and the nomination form can be found here: http://www.manchestersciencefestival.com/news/joshaward

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Sign up for the MSF schools programme...

The Manchester Science Festival schools programme is back for a third year this October and we have an exciting scientific treat in store…

Our secondary schools programme will run on Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 October. Each day will include entertaining, engaging and educational workshops, shows and activities exploring science, engineering, technology and maths. Students will have the chance to meet and question enthusiastic scientists, enjoy hands-on activities and develop their problem solving skills.

Specifically for year 8 students, the schools programme will be FREE and will take place in a Manchester city centre location that will be easily accessible by public transport. Bookings will soon be open, so register your interest by emailing stempoint@mosi.org.uk quoting ‘Science Festival’ in the subject line. Don’t miss this chance to reserve a place on the guest list.

Manchester Science Festival 2009 will take place across Greater Manchester Saturday 24 October – Sunday 1 November http://www.manchestersciencefestival.com/

From astronauts to physicists...

It's a busy week for the Manchester Science Festival!

Last night we were rubbing shoulders with astronauts from the STS-119 space shuttle that flew to the international space station in March. They gave various talks to school students and an evening event at the Museum of Science and Industry and got interviewed by students at the BBC 21st Century Classroom in Salford who made podcasts and videos about space. They were really inspiring and gave a great insight into their experiences in space. My favourite bit of the evening event was a video clip of one of the crew sucking some floating water into his mouth. There were lots of great questions about careers as astronauts and what it's like to go into space. The astronauts were here as part of a mission to enthuse young people about science and to take up careers in science, engineering, technology and maths.

And tonight we have our second MSF trailablazer. Physicists Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw take to the stage to talk about their new book Why does e=mc2? (and why should we care?). Why Does E=mc2? (and why should we care?) is a groundbreaking journey into the real meaning of Einstein’s iconic equation, E=mc2. Raising lots of questions along the way – what is energy? what is mass? – the enthusiastic scientists take us to the site of the infamous ‘big bang machine’, the 27km Large Hadron Collider.

QI host and professional genius Stephen Fry praised Brian Cox. He said: “I can think of no one, Stephen Hawking included, who more perfectly combines authority, knowledge, passion, clarity and powers of elucidation than Brian Cox.

“If you really want to know how Big Science works and why it matters to each of us in the smallest way, then be entertained by this dazzlingly enthusiastic man.”

The launch is on Tuesday July 7th 7.15 – 9.15pm in the Cardwell Auditorium at the Museum of Science and Industry (Liverpool Road, Castlefield, Manchester M3 4FP).

Tickets are £1, redeemable against one copy of the book on the night, and are available from Blackwell University Bookshop, Precinct Centre, Oxford Road, Manchester (telephone 0161 274 3331).

Image credits: Astronauts: Chris Foster/MOSI, Brian Cox, Jeff Forshaw

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Rock star physicist launches book as Manchester Science Festival trailblazer

Television physicist and ex- rock star Brian Cox will launch his first book with Manchester University’s award-winning scientist Jeff Forshaw at the Museum Of Science And Industry on July 7th at 7.15pm as part of the Manchester Science Festival's series of summer trailblazers.

Why Does E=mc2? (and why should we care?) is a groundbreaking journey into the real meaning of Einstein’s iconic equation, E=mc2. Raising lots of questions along the way – what is energy? what is mass? – the enthusiastic scientists take us to the site of the infamous ‘big bang machine’, the 27km Large Hadron Collider.

Brian Cox was in the band D:Ream: his last appearance with them was at the 1997 Labour party conference. He now splits his time between experimental physics in Manchester and the CERN labs in Geneva, Switzerland. He was also science adviser on Danny Boyle’s stunning film Sunshine. Jeff Forshaw, like Brian, is one of the youngest professors in the UK. He teaches Einstein’s theory of relativity to first year students.

The launch is on Tuesday July 7th 7.15 – 9.15pm in the Cardwell Auditorium at the Museum of Science and Industry (Liverpool Road, Castlefield, Manchester M3 4FP).

Tickets are £1, redeemable against one copy of the book on the night, and are available from Blackwell University Bookshop, Precinct Centre, Oxford Road, Manchester (telephone 0161 274 3331).

Why Does E=mc2? (and why should we care?) is a £12.99 hardback on Da Capo Press – available on the night for £10.99 less ticket price. More information on the book here: http://bit.ly/CoxForshaw

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

From rockets to astronauts...

It's been all go on the Festival front... the cutting room experiment was great fun at the weekend... was a bit drizzly upon arrival, but as soon as we started making our alka seltzer rockets, the sun came out! Loads of people joined in - mainly kids at first, but the adults were desperate for a go once they saw rockets being let off. Got some great footage on video which we will hopefully share soon.

After all that fun, we'll hopefully be doing it again in the summer and special mention goes to Charlie who brought his home made rockets down on the day and wanted to change the experiment to see what results he could get... a scientist of the future I think!

If you enjoyed that, there's an event at the Museum of Science and Industry coming up featuring Astronauts from a recent space mission... get yourself along to find out all about their mission, what it's really like to go into space and if they miss space food... http://www.mosi.org.uk/whats-on/an-audience-with-the-discovery-space-shuttle-crew

Friday, 19 June 2009

Trailblazers launch with a whizz, a pop and a bang!

To kick off our series of summer Festival trailblazers, we're heading to the cutting room square in Ancoats tommorrow to get involved in the cutting room experiment, which is celebrating the opening of the new space.

Activities such as musical statues, clothes swapping and a
silent disco will be taking place throughout the day, but at 3.30pm we'll be there with the museum of science and industry for Alka Seltzer Rockets! We'll be making them and learing about the science... there'll also be a launch pad to launch the rockets simultaneously.

Get yourselves down there early to bag a space at the rocket making table and we'll see you there!

Oh and if you'e got your own film canisters and alka seltzer (or indeed anything you want to use to decorate your rocket), bring them on down.

Monday, 8 June 2009

British Science Association new Manchester branch launch

Are you interested in organising events that engage & inspire the public with science and engineering? The British Science Assocaition is launching a new Manchester Branch and the branch will organise some events as part of the Manchester Science Festival! If you're interested, see below...

The launch meeting for the Manchester-based group of the British Science Association is taking place this Thursday (June 11th), at 5:30pm in Kro Bar, Oxford Road. Please join us to find out more about the Association and help with the planning of future public science events in the area. If you are unable to attend but would like to be kept informed about the group please e-mail natalie.lane@britishscienceassociation.org.

Where: Kro bar (upstairs), 325 Oxford Road When: June 11th, 5:30 – 7:00pm Who: Anyone with an interest in science that they would like to share!

For more information about this meeting, or the British Science Association, please visit our website (www.britishscienceassociation.org) or contact Natalie Lane (natalie.lane@britishscienceassociation.org, 0161 306 1599)

Monday, 1 June 2009

MSF at the Cutting room experiment

We've been a little quiet of late, but you'll be pleased to hear we're back and ready to go! You probably can't wait for the Festival in October, so help us help you by getting a little bit of MSF now...

Be part of the biggest user generated event in the world.
1 day. 12 events. You create.
Cutting Room Experiment is the world’s first completely user-generated event. The Cutting Room Experiment is an attempt to use a new public space to bring together the creativity of Manchester. Each individual event throughout the day will be decided by you - the audience - and Manchester Science Festival is getting involved!
The Manchester Science Festival and MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) have posted an event idea on the Cutting Room Experiment website and we need your votes to make it happen. We want as many people to gather together to create their own alka seltzer rockets and 1,2,3... blast off simultaneously.
For our idea to be picked, we need votes. Visit cutting room experiment to register and be counted in. Then you'll get a little pice of the Festival a little bit earlier!

Keep your eyes peeled for other trailbalzer events over the summer in the run up to the 2009 Manchester Science Festival which will take place across Greater Manchester from 24 October - 1 November.

Friday, 30 January 2009


A nice article on the newish Didsbury SciBAr here.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Twitter tweeting

Jon Copley is a marine biologist and is currently on a research ship in the Southern Ocean, just off Antaractica, exploring the deep seabed to find hydrothermal vents and cold seeps--deep, chemical oases that are home to a variety of bizarre creatures.

Jon is posting regular “tweets” on Twitter every few minutes (when possible) about the expedition’s progress - the idea being to give people an insight into the process of how science is done, give them the opportunity to interact with scientists in more of a ’real-time’ setting, and hopefully share the thrill of discovery when they find something new.

You can do follow his posts at: http://twitter.com/expeditionlog

UK Schools Computer Animation Competition 2009 - now open!

Now open! The UK Schools Computer Animation Competition 2009

The competition is open to all UK schoolchildren aged between 7 and 19. The deadline for entering is Friday 1 May 2009. For full details, and to register your school's interest, please visit the Animation09 website. Register now, with no obligation, and keep in the picture!

About the competition

The School of Computer Science at The University of Manchester is running the second annual UK Schools Computer Animation Competition, in association with Electronic Arts and the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.

For the 2009 competition, entrants can create their animations (maximum duration: 1 minute) using any of the following programs: Alice, Scratch, or Flash. There are some great prizes, and the Animation Festival and Awards Ceremony will be held at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.

The inaugural 2008 competition attracted over 230 entries from 55 schools, with over 400 children attending the Film Show and Awards Ceremony day at The University of Manchester. Visit the 2008 Winners Gallery.

Key dates
19 January 2009: Competition launch, and the website opens for registration.
1 May 2009: Deadline for submitting entries.
22 May 2009: Shortlisted winners notified.
26 June 2009: Film Show and Awards Ceremony day at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.

Key contacts
Animation09 website
Enquiries: Animation09@cs.man.ac.uk

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Happy 2009!

Happy new year!

So we can confirm the rumours are true - the festival will be back in 2009 and the dates are likely to be 24 October until 1 November.

And whilst you're waiting for that date to roll around, of course we'll be back blogging on here, as well as updating the main site with developments.

For now, you can entertain yourself with the video of the 2008 highlights that has just gone up on the site. Spot yourself or be inspired in time for this year...