The Science of Harry Potter, the physics of gin, balloon astronauts, scientific food extravaganzas and the opportunity to join children's television presenter Maddie Moate's Astronaut Academy are just some of the scientific treats that lie ahead as the 2018 NI Science Festival descends on the North West from February 15-25.
With over 180 events across 11 days and spanning over 50 venues throughout Northern Ireland, NI Science Festival 2018 is the science extravaganza’s most ambitious programme to date with over 30 events taking place in and around Derry~Londonderry.
Highlights of this year's Derry~Londonderry programme of events include Mission To Mars, where children’s television presenter Maddie Moate will be seeking new recruits to her Astronaut Academy. Suitable for all ages, Maddie will take you on a journey through the solar system, equipped with special cameras and science demos.
For the foodies, explore the science behind some of the world's most favourite sweet treats in Science of Sweets; explore the physics of alcohol, the influence of ice, and what actually happens when you shake a Martini with Dr Anne Pawsey in Physics of Gin; and investigate the science behind brewing beer in some of the North West’s very own breweries during the Sippy Brewery Tour where you'll sample, meet brew masters and learn the secrets of their craft.
In The Science of Harry Potter, Jon Chase, co-author of ‘The Science of Harry Potter’, will investigate the scientific explanations of the wizarding world’s fantastic feats.
On Saturday, February 24, the Foyle Science Showcase will take place at Foyle Arena. Designed to introduce young people to the endless possibilities posed by the worlds of science and technology, the interactive event will give young people the chance to meet RuBot, the life-size Rubik’s cube-solving robot and to visit a mobile planetarium to explore our immense universe.
The showcase also includes a series of workshops dedicated to the wonders of nature, the animal kingdom, the human body, food, psychology and technology.
Lastly, the ‘Science of Dragons’ show, facilitated by Scientific Sue and based on Cressida Cowell’s ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ books, will see Scientific Sue recruit volunteers to help her explore the science of how dragons fly and the different types of fire dragons produce before creating one herself!
Ryan Tracey, the famous balloon modeller who set a Guinness World Record during his appearance on Britain’s Got Talent, will also be creating a giant balloon model of an astronaut which will be on display in Foyleside Shopping Centre, throughout the Festival.
Alongside its dedicated North West programme, the NI Science Festival will also embark on regional roadshow of scientific discovery, stopping in towns across Northern Ireland including Enniskillen, Newry, Dungannon and Coleraine, to educate and inspire local families and young budding scientists and engineers.
NI Science Festival Director, Chris McCreery, said: 'One of the biggest focuses for the NI Science Festival, aside from programming a world-class series of scientific events in Northern Ireland, is to embark on outreach activities to inspire the next generation of our industry-leading scientists, engineers, mathematicians, physicists and educators of every type.
'We are excited to once again work with our partners at the Nerve Centre to produce a carefully crafted programme of STEM-focused events and activities in the North West to suit all ages, abilities and backgrounds. It is our aim to inspire and introduce more people in Northern Ireland to the wonders of science in their everyday lives and to instil confidence, encourage participation and ignite ideas.'
In attendance at the North West launch of the festival, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh said: 'The NI Science Festival is a highly anticipated time of the year for families, academics and science enthusiasts alike as it brings diverse programmes of events for all ages to venues of all capacities to the North West. The creativity and vibrancy that ensues from each event during the eleven-day festival is an excellent time to educate and stimulate minds, stir debate, and highlight the advances in science, technology, engineering and maths.'
'We have a rich heritage of scientists, engineers and inventors which have changed the world from John Bell’s Theorem, Harry Ferguson tractors, to Frank Pantridge’s defibrillator; therefore who knows what is in store for new emerging talents which are inspired by Science NI Festival to confidently pioneer in STEM professions in the future?'
John Peto, Director of Education Nerve Centre, said: 'Nerve Centre is delighted to partner with the NI Science Festival on the North West programme. We are both committed to bringing new learning and the discovery of new experiences to people from a wide range of backgrounds and the programme that we have developed together is diverse, exciting and includes loads of really fun things for everyone and anyone to come and enjoy.'
The Festival is supported by the Department for the Economy, Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland, Queen's University Belfast, Ulster University, Innovate UK, British Council Northern Ireland, Matrix and STEM recruitment specialists MCS Group.