Cardiff Science Festival 2012

Have you ever wondered how the brain really works? What about the science of Rock Guitar? Or how technology helps the human race defy Mother Nature’s limits? If any of these things sound interesting to you, then read on!

2012 sees the return of The Cardiff Science Festival for the first time in 7 years. And we are going to be celebrating it in true scientific style with whizzes, bangs and plenty of sparks!

The week commencing July 9th will see a spectacular line up of science themed events, lectures, comedy shows and much more happening all across the city. Scientists and science communicators from across the country are coming to strut their sciencey-stuff in front of you!

Myself being a hybrid of scientist/science communicator (I haven’t quite left science or entered the science communication role yet) I am really looking forward to this event. Not only because I am performing (eeek) but also because it gives me an opportunity to learn something new; something outside of the ordinary and many of things that weren’t part of my scientific upbringing.

So, I am performing. I am nervous. I have stage fright. When I was much younger, I dabbled in a little bit of theatre. One play I took part in went horrendously wrong. I ended up being in a scene that I hadn’t rehearsed for, didn’t know the lines, and looked like a bit of a lemon on stage. It was highly embarrassing and ended my brief acting career. But what I’m going to be doing on stage for the CSF isn’t acting as such; it’s more along the lines of educating the audience in a topic that I find interesting (and hoping that they do too!).

That’s the great thing about these events; they offer scientists a chance to get up close and personal with their audience and offer them the opportunity to learn something about what the scientist is interested in. Science festivals are increasing in popularity all over the country; Cheltenham Science Festival held in the middle of June is one of the main events on the science communication calendar. Later on this year in September, the British Science Association is hosting the British Science Festival in Aberdeen, bringing even more wonderful science for you to soak in!

From the point of view of a scientist, I am looking forward to learning new, unfamiliar science that I haven’t come across before, the potential to speak to some of the scientists themselves, and maybe ask an awkward question or two! From the point of view of a science communicator I am keen to pick up tips from the pros, see the do’s and most probably none of the don’ts; absorb some of their enthusiasm for inspiring the public. From the point of view of being a member the general public, I am looking forward to all of the above, plus much more.

There are over forty fantastic events in the CSF, many of which I hope to catch whilst I’m volunteering. I wanted to put together a little list of what I am particularly looking forward to, and which events to look out for!

The opening event, Cardiff Blogs Science Festival Special, will be something for everyone. Three regular bloggers take to the stage to tell you about what it is that inspires them to write. I think it will be interesting to find out about this, and learn what it is that makes a good blogger.

If you’re free on the Tuesday evening, I would recommend the Morgan-Botti Lightning Lab which opens its doors at 7pm (earlier tour sold out!), giving you the chance to see a brand new Cardiff University research laboratory, investigating the affects on lightning on airplanes.

Thursday night offers something for those of us grown ups who want to release their inner child: Techniquest is opening their doors for the After Dark event. They will be hosting Science Junkies, Chris North, mystery goody-bags, and a fully licensed bar!!

If you cant make it to that, try the interactive panel discussion event, Engineers Question Time, also held on Thursday night at Pierheard Building. This event gives the audience a chance to ask the questions. Engineers Question Time has a similar format to the very successful BBC show Question Time, bringing the big cheeses from various engineering disciplines together to answer questions on any topic related to science and technology, whether it be education, recent news, career developments, society and more.

The weekend is when the CSF is bringing out the big guns, with tantalizing exhibits, school activities and many more lectures, there will be something to suit everyone! The Urdd Centre at the Millennium Centre will be hosting a Science Exhibition for the whole weekend, showcasing some fantastic stands and stalls all concerning science, with a mix of artists, photographers, the Faulkes telescope project, the UK Technocamps, the Massive Dynamic Project and the Quantum Workshop.

A first for the festival, and for Wales, is Nature Fail, a brand new comedy show. Matt Parker and Timandra Harkness, the duo behind the hit-show Your Days Are Numbered, bring you their Edinburgh Fringe-bound show at Grovesnor Casino in The Red Dragon Centre. Mixing creative, built-on-the-spot props with the latest technology that humans have developed, this show will take a look at how new technologies have allowed humans to thrive on this planet, and explore possibilities well beyond what was previously thought impossible.

I’m a Scientist Get Me Out Of Here will bring out the true competitive side of five scientists who will be battling it out to become the winner of this special question based show, with the questions set by the audience; each will get voted off depending on how well they answer them! So start prepping your questions folks, this one will be good!

The very first Cardiff Science Showoff is definitely something worth seeing, and as the last event of the week I am sure it will promises to be a great finale! It hosts a variety of different acts, all of whom will want to show off some great science! It looks to be a fantastic show, with each scientist only having 9 minutes to show off any choice of scientific topic. No pressure then!

For those of you with families, there are more than enough events going on throughout the week. There will be a special screening of the brand new Ice Age film, preceded by a talk from a science expert. Science rapper Jon Chase will be rapping in the science marquee at Mermaid Quay and Cardiff’s own Dr. Mark Lewney will delight teenage audiences with his “Rock Guitar in 11 Dimensions” show. I will even put in a cheeky plug for my own event for those of you, who like me, are water babies. I will be giving a talk on Saturday Morning at the Urdd Centre Classroom at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay all about swimming; some of the science behind it, and how to make yourself swim faster!

So if you have some free time during the weekday evenings, and fancy a night out with a twist, come along to some of the events happening all around Cardiff. At the weekends, none of you have an excuse! Come down to Cardiff Bay and see the fun side of science at the Cardiff Science Festival!

You have a week to register for some of the events, so get on it! Information about all the events mentioned above, and the many more that I didn’t have space to write about can be found on the CSF website, which also gives the most up-to-date timetable and if you can’t make it, follow the various activities on twitter @CDFsciencefest.

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