Friday, 10 December 2010

Manchester Science Festival 2010 - reflections and thank you

Manchester is an amazing place for a science festival. There’s so much rich industrial heritage and iconic scientists to draw inspiration from and so much innovation and exciting research happening in the city, it provides a unique backdrop. The fourth Manchester Science Festival has just taken place and since it began in 2007, so many people have got behind the Festival, sharing their ideas, creativity and passion for science. It’s a real thrill to be putting science at the heart of the cultural calendar in Manchester.

A huge thank you goes out to all the funders, partners, organisers, speakers, researchers, community groups and volunteers who made this year’s Festival happen. The Festival is a huge partnership effort and we’re proud to work with so many (over 75!) different partner organisations. This year’s Festival was particularly exciting and so many great projects came together to create an inspiring and innovative programme. In fact there was such an action packed programme of event, it’s hard to pick a particular highlight to shout about. However, there are a few projects we’re particularly chuffed about and thought they were worth a mention.

This year we embarked on an ambitious community programme. As well as science busking, we delivered kitchen science workshops through each of the ten Greater Manchester boroughs. We put young people at the heart of the Festival, inviting them to get involved in the development and delivery of key projects. 18 year olds with no previous interest in science got together to work with scientists, ethicists and artists to explore the topic of human enhancement and develop creative performances for the public. We also added a twist to the Dragon’s Den. As part of the Manchester Beacon Science Festival Community Awards scientists pitched their creative event ideas to a panel of ruthless dragons (teenagers), who chose which project to fund and work with to shape and deliver an event. The winning idea, the bacteria party saw students sharing their work, getting hands-on, eating bacteria shaped cake and playing games with the local community. It was such a fantastic event and exactly the kind of programming we want to encourage as part of the Festival.

We really provided some unique experiences for people this year with projects like Super K Sonic Booooum, an immersive experience where you could experience what it’s like to be in neutrino observatory. Unsuspecting members of the public donned their wellies and lab coat and jumped aboard a boat to see what it’s like to be a particle physicist in Japan. The installation explored some really serious and exciting science, as well as being fun and giving you the chance to experience an environment you would never dream of seeing.

We welcomed over 80 volunteers who assisted at events and went to venues throughout Greater Manchester, entertaining the masses with science busking – fun, hands-on science demonstrations that capture the imagination as you’re on the commute or out shopping. They were passionate, enthusiastic and committed. A huge thank you goes to our volunteers who are helping to inspire our future scientists!

This diverse and innovative programme could only be put together by the people in Manchester for the people of Manchester. Manchester is a truly original science city and I hope you enjoyed this exciting, passionate and ambitious Festival. So thank you for coming and getting involved and we'll keep you posted on the blog with plans for next year!

Natalie Ireland,
Manchester Science Festival Director

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