The complete programme boasts almost 200 events taking place over 11 days in February (14-24) throughout Northern Ireland, with a dedicated programme of events scheduled to take place simultaneously in the North West.
In a year of scientific and technological anniversaries, the 2019 festival coincides with 30 years of the internet, 50 years since the moon landing and 150 years of the periodic table.
The festival will host a range of workshops, talks and interactive activities for young people, parents and schools, coupled with an assortment of debates, talks, theatre, comedy, music and film to make accessible the extraordinary within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for festival-goers and older audiences.
The hugely popular Foyle Science Showcase returns to the Foyle Arena (February 23). Back for its third year, relax beneath the mobile planetarium and discover the wonders of the solar system or join in workshops to learn about nature, the human body, psychology and emerging technologies.
The Strabane Science Safari will encourage the entire family to get up close and personal with weird and wonderful animals from around the world, learn about the wonders of nature, the human body and get hands on with the latest technology.
To celebrate the Year of Youth, the festival’s S-Team Takeover initiative sees a team of young people (aged 16 – 24) curating an entire day of NI Science Festival activity with events on slime, the secrets behind the best special effects (SFX) make-up and a night with Dr Declan McKenna, as he explains the tricks which horror film directors use to frighten us (February 16).
Bestselling children’s author and the mind behind the Horrible Science books, Nick Arnold will be at the Nerve Centre (February 24) with his high-energy Horrible Science Show, an interactive and laugh-out-loud day out for the whole family.
Winner of The Times’ Science Book of the Year 2018, Steve Brusatte will chart the rise and fall of the dinosaurs at the Nerve Centre (February 24) and Blue Peter science presenter Greg Foot will host two unique events; Deep Ocean Lab and Everest Lab (February 23).
Children’s favourite television presenter Maddie Moate also returns to the Nerve Centre on Saturday, February 23 for the debut show of Maddie’s Fantastic Factory Tour while BBC Bitesize science presenter John Chase presents the science behind Roald Dahl’s marvellous tales (February 17).
For the foodie, take a cheese-making tour (February 16), learn about the science of flavours with Stephen Forbes (February 18) or sign up for Dr Anne Pawsey’s interactive workshop, The Physics of Gin (February 16).
The world’s largest collection of famine-related art will also be on display in Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin throughout February and March, and Dr Alan Fernihough will consider the causes and consequences of the Great Irish Famine and ask the question, 'Was the Great Irish Famine an ecological disaster?'
Chris McCreery, Director at the NI Science Festival, said: 'We are tremendously proud of this year’s programme of events which has been developed with our partners at the Nerve Centre. The festival champions the latest cutting-edge research and studies alongside the most prominent issues of the day.
'Our biggest focus is to make science accessible to people of all ages and experience. This year’s programme presents speakers who are driving forces in their fields of research. At a more local level, this year’s festival also celebrates the contributions of Northern Ireland’s leading minds to the worlds of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
'Alongside these is a brim-full programme showcasing the weird and wonderful too. Science can be fascinating, amusing, entertaining and thought-provoking. Science can be inspiring too, and this is what we hope to achieve year-after-year by attracting the programming the finest speakers, exhibitions and hands-on interactive events throughout Northern Ireland.'
John Peto, Director of Education at the Nerve Centre, said: 'Our partnership with the NI Science Festival is far-reaching and one of the many ways we work to educate and ignite creativity in the North West. The festival unlocks the innovations and careers opportunities made possible through research and breakthroughs at the very forefront STEM and we hope this year’s programme is the catalyst to inspire festival-goers, young and old.'
Welcoming the return of the NI Science Festival to the North West, Councillor John Boyle, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, added:
'In recent years the Derry City and Strabane District Council area has worked to position itself as one of the finest places to be for culture, education, research and a growing technology sector. Our local education institutions are at the forefront of research, and job creation in the area within the technology sector is ensuring a steady stream of opportunities. Organisations such as the Nerve Centre and partnerships with the NI Science Festival play a central role in introducing and encouraging us to pursue our passions and strive to achieve what we are all capable of achieving. I hope to see everyone taking this unique opportunity to explore something new!'
For the first time this year, the NI Science Festival has partnered with pioneering ticketing platform Citizen Ticket to securely manage all online bookings who have developed their own blockchain network in order to combat issues such as ticket touting and fraud.
NI Science 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.