BRIGHTON Science Festival is celebrating the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with a monster of a festival in February.
Organisers have created what they describe as “a bizarre hybrid of our own” with a week of activities and shows fusing learning, discovery and fun during half term.
Among the 150 events at a series of venues is a chance to dissect a real heart on Valentine’s Day and a zoological tour of creatures that might one day stalk the Earth.
This year, the festival, which takes place from February 10-18, has expanded across Brighton with events taking place at the i360, Brighton Toy Museum and The Barge at the Marina. And it is bookended by its annual science frenzy Bright Sparks weekender at Hove Park School and on the final weekend a new all-day event called White Heat at the Sallis Benney Theatre, which is designed to start an argument. Participants can learn how to disagree without being disagreeable with games, discussions and workshops on psychological bias and the benefits of swearing, plus virtual reality and stand-up philosophy.
Among the scientists hosting events are TV scientist Dr Emily Grossman, zoologist and author Jules Howard, Ian B Dunne and Dr Francisco Diego as well as award-winning comedian Samantha Baines, magician Oliver Meech, who has worked as a magic consultant on the Discovery Channel’s Breaking Magic, artist Beatrice von Preussen, musical bubbleologist Simon Fortune and acoustics expert Adrian Jameson.
Festival director Richard Robinson, a founder member of TV satire show Spitting Image who has also written nearly 20 books on science, including the best-selling Why The Toast Always Lands Butter-Side Down, says, “The Brighton Science Festival is building its own bridges between science and the people.
“The festival is for all ages, but the ones we are particularly doing this for are 12-14 year-olds. When they arrive in secondary school from primary school, they are fired up with enthusiasm for science. Within two years, they hate it. Why? The government has recognised the problem and fiddled with the school curriculum, trying to make it more user-friendly, but that hasn’t worked.
There are two elements missing, which even the most energetic teachers have difficulty coping with.
“There is no spirit of discovery. Young people love to explore, experiment and create. They don’t mind making mistakes along the way. But the curriculum doesn’t leave time for mistakes. They have to get the right version in their books straight away, ready to move on to the next topic. There is no room for the spirit of discovery.
“Secondly, their parents don’t join in. Schools often have sports days, when all the parents come along. They have school plays; all the parents come along. When they have science days, the school is deserted. So the Family Fun days are there for both parents and their children to play, experiment, discover and share the experience.”
Here are some highlights of the 2018 Brighton Science Festival. For the full programme of events, visit brightonscience.com.
Saturday 10 & Sunday 11 February, Hove Park Upper School, Nevill Road, Hove
The festival’s flagship event lands in Hove for a whole weekend of hands-on science fun, with an exciting array of activities for children and their parents. There will be over 50 stalls, stands and shows across the two days, with presenters and science communicators on hand to help you get involved.
OLIVER MEECH: WHEN MAGIC AND SCIENCE COLLIDE 2.0
Saturday February 10, Sweet Jukebox, The Southern Belle, 3 Waterloo Street, Brighton
The sell-out smash returns. Amazing tricks inspired by astounding science. Oliver meddles with forces we barely understand, in a comedy magic show for the QI generation. It’s the natural selection!
Sunday February 11, Sallis Benney Theatre, 58-67 Grand Parade, Brighton
A stellar show for kids and parents about the science behind space exploration. Which planet is hottest? Which would float in a swimming pool? And just how much space is in space? Simon Watt’s live show is full of experiments you can recreate at home. Find out about what you can see if you only look up!
A HISTORY OF ROCKETRY
Monday February 12, Sallis Benney Theatre, 58-67 Grand Parade, Brighton
Setting off rockets in a theatre – what could possibly go wrong? A mix of history, science, explosions and mayhem, Jon London’s one-man show takes a look at the history of rocketry over the last two and a half thousand years, from Ancient Greece through China to the space race and the modern day.
DR EMILY’S WEIRD AND WONDERFUL SCIENCE FACTS
Tuesday February 13, Sweet St Andrew’s, 11 Chapel Mews, Waterloo Street, Hove
Did you know that you can block a tickle? That snakes can bite you even when they’re dead? Or that we make better decisions when we need a wee?! Join TV scientist Dr Emily Grossman for a fun and interactive science quiz show, as she explains some of the world’s weirdest science facts.
Above: the Bright Sparks 2 event/picture: Suzanne Moore
Main picture, top: trying out hands-on Blast Science
Below: Shadow Puppets
Above: Rocket Science/picture: Jon London
Below: Rocket Factory/picture: Jon London
Above: Bubbleology with Simon Fortune
Below: a hands-on workshop
Above: children enjoying the BlockBuilders event and, below, Pocket Science
Above: Ian B Dunne demonstrates science magic
Below: a science society pulls out all the stops
MONSTERS THAT MIGHT BE
Tuesday February 13, Sallis Benney Theatre, 58-67 Grand Parade, Brighton
What might the future inhabitants of Earth look like? And what creatures might we accidentally create through our current actions? Zoologist and author Jules Howard takes you on a Darwinian safari tour of the creatures that might one day stalk the Earth.
ANATOMY NIGHT: MATTERS OF THE HEART
Wednesday February 14, The Walrus, 10 Ship Street, Brighton
Join us for a rather different Valentine’s Day as anatomists take you on a guided tour of the heart while dissecting a real one live. You will see how blood enters the heart, where the real heartstrings are and understand how it beats. You can even get your gloves on and get involved!
CYCLE THE SOLAR SYSTEM IN THE SOUTH DOWNS
Thursday and Saturday February 15 and 17, Centurion Way, Chichester
Travel faster than the speed of light with science-artist Nick Sayers for a fun 4.5km bike tour of the planets, along the Centurion Way in the South Downs National Park. Explore the worlds of the Solar System at a billionth true scale on this guided ride, with NASA photo flags and planet-sized fruit and veg. If Jupiter is a watermelon, the Earth is a blueberry…
Saturday February 17, Sallis Benney Theatre, 58-67 Grand Parade, Brighton
A fiesta of scintillating science and mind-expanding experiments. With talks covering everything from our own unconscious biases to why swearing can be good for you, all accompanied by live art, stand-up philosophy, plus Being SomeBody, the Sackler Centre’s cutting edge virtual reality exploration of consciousness.