Brighton Science Festival

Bright Sparks 2017

Bright Sparks

Hove Park School
Nevill Road
Hove, BN3 7BN


Our ginormous weekend for families returns for its 13th year. Bright Sparks is a unique opportunity for parents and their children to share science with one another. From the cutting edge of chemistry to giant microbes and from scientific poetry to magnificent maths, there’s something to inspire, fascinate and thrill every young mind.

11th – 12th February 2017 

Full details will be announced later this year. In the meantime, view the Bright Sparks 2016 Gallery, or take a look at 2016’s listings below:


Teach Teachers to Teach!
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” Join Sussex University’s trainee science teachers to design and create interactive and creative models, and be inspired by new ways of teaching and learning. From the University Of Sussex.
Catalysing the Future
Catalysis has a huge role to play in creating a sustainable future for our society. This activity will allow visitors to explore the power of catalysis in the operation of fuel cells for electricity generation and in reducing the carbon footprint of the chemical industry. This research will play an important role in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and will help us to protect the environment into the longer-term future. From the University of Southampton.
Building Bridges
Fancy testing your bridge building skills? Come and build an iconic, unusual or revolutionary bridge using only paper and sticky tape. The bridge that supports the most chocolate bars wins a prize! Be warned, the competition is fierce so bring your bridge building A-game!
Windtunnel Challenge
Ricardo, a leading global engineering consultancy, will provide a look into the challenges of engineering personal transportation and clean energy in the future. Will you be able to win the Kinergy Flywheel Challenge? How much energy can you store in our hybrid drive flywheel? What are the challenges to developing low carbon transport systems? What are the issues facing society and where do engineers of the future have a role in overcoming these challenges? Come and visit us for all these and more.
Owl Pellet Dissection
The RSPB is the country’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. We will be soaking the owl pellets and then using magnifying glasses, you can examine them and identify aspects of the owls diet and habitat.
Let Toys be Toys
The Let Toys Be Toys campaign asks retailers and publishers to stop promoting some toys and books as just for boys others as just for girls. At this drop-in session, we’ll be introducing the campaign and why it matters. We’re interested to hear your ideas and experiences, particularly in relation to science toys and books. Come and tell us what you think about how science and technology toys are sold and what changes you would like to see. For teachers, we can direct you to lesson plans on gender stereotyping for Key Stages 1-3.
Build a Brain
How does the brain work? Find out how the invisible building blocks of the brain fit together by building your own brain you can wear on your head, string together bits of origami DNA, and use simple household items to create neurons.
Critters & Cockroaches
Interact with intriguing insects with some of the many-legged residents of Drusilla’s Park – and their keepers. Meet a giant millipede, and get up close and personal with a (surprisingly friendly) Madagascan hissing cockroach.
One World One Ocean: Ed The Bear
One World One Ocean charts the travels of Ed the Bear, as he learns about the ocean and marine life from real scientists. Join Ed as he comes face to face with sharks, meets penguins, dives on coral reefs and discovers deep-sea shipwrecks. Discover how we are damaging the ocean and why all life on earth depends on a healthy ocean.
Beach Beasts of Shoreham
In the space between land and sea, all sorts of creatures live. But it’s not easy being a shingle-dweller: only the toughest survive! Meet some of the specialised animals that make Shoreham Beach their home, find out how to protect them, and how making our beaches litter-free helps marine wildlife.
Lifting the Lid on Software
Ever wondered what it’s like to be a computer programmer? Come and have a go at “coding” at one of our programming workshops where you can try making “mods” in Minecraft on the Raspberry Pi computer. We’ll also show you how we use programming in the real world to control industrial automation processes. From Eurotherm by Schneider Electric
Digestion Digest
So you just ate an apple. Where did it go? What has happened to it? It didn’t just disappear! Medical students from Brighton and Sussex Medical school take you on a journey through the digestive system from mouth to toilet! On the way the “doctors to be” will take you all around the body, exploring germs and microbes all the way up to the organs that keep you alive!
Scientifically Syllabic: Rap’n’Rhyme Performance Poetry Show
Local teacher, performer and poet, Kay Walton has been running her biggest ever Rap’n’Rhyme club in 4 local primary schools. Currently funded by the Arts Council England and Ernest Cook Trust, 48 young poets from Hertford and Patcham Junior Schools and St Luke’s and Carden Primary Schools will spend 5 weeks writing and rehearsing their science-based poetry before rapping it in front of a live audience at the Bright Sparks weekender. Look out for new perspectives on scientific ideas, combining solid facts with imaginative flights of fancy. Hugely enjoyable.
Spaceball Gyroscope
Test yourself under some serious G-Force on the stomach-churning gyroscope ride. (Extra charge)
Magic Flowers: The Journey of Water
Water is a greatly underrated substance – it’s easy to take it for granted until you don’t have any to drink. Discover diffusion and capillary action equipped with nothing more than paper, scissors and water, and find out how water is not only essential, but defies the laws of gravity.
Science Toy Shop
Come and be inspired by games, models and machines from Herstmonceux Observatory Science Centre. Some are simple, some are sophisticated – all are informative and fun. Plus special festival shop offers and some spectacular science busking.
Use a Giant Pantograph drawing machine to trace a mini body outline of your friend directly onto A4 paper, or enlarge your hand onto an A3 poster. Made from familiar materials, these contraptions by artist Nick Sayers demonstrate maths and mechanics in a fun, interactive way.
Weapons of Microscopic Destruction
Your body is under attack! All around you are pathogens – germs – that can cause disease. But don’t panic – your immune system works day and night to defend you. It changes throughout life, getting stronger from birth to adulthood but, as we go beyond middle age, its ability to adapt and fight pathogens reduces. Visit the Weapons of Microscopic Destruction stand to find out more about your immune system, the special army of cells that keep you safe from attack. Try your hand at our phagocyte gobble game and see how many you can catch. Enter the world of antibodies, a key weapon of the immune system, and discover how the body can make over 10 billion different types. You can also make your own one to take home. Weapons of Microscopic Destruction is run by the British Society for Immunology and the Babraham Institute.
Image credit: Shutterstock.
Science Bookshop
City Books join us with their magnificent pop-up bookshop featuring a huge range of educational and creative books.
Eat, Sleep, Wake, Repeat!
Waking up is hard to do… but most of us manage to get out of bed in the morning. How does your body know when to go to sleep, when to wake up, or when to stop eating? It’s all down to hormones – follow a day in the life of the hormone system that keeps your body clock ticking.
Reptiles & Amphibians
What’s the largest snake in the world? How long is a chameleon’s tongue? How many legs does a millipede have? Learn the answers to these questions and handle some of these amazing creatures in a safe, fun and educational way with enthusiastic experts.
Swimming with plankton
Phytoplankton are the base of the food chain in aquatic systems and generate about half of the oxygen on the planet. Iona Scott’s ethereal underwater projection will plunge you into an hypnotic submarine world, revealing the beauty of this microscopic landscape on a human scale.
Code Club
If you’ve ever want to make your own computer games, animations or websites, you’ll need to learn the basics of coding. Fortunately, Code Club is at hand, who will equip you with all you need to know to make computers do your bidding and eventually evolve into sentient robots and take over the world. Perhaps.
Cancer is not simple
Cancer is not a simple disease – and discussion of it is often riddled with misconceptions. Share some of the science that will make tomorrow’s cancer journey less frightening and more survivable. Each person’s cancer is slightly different.
the making place  Fabulous Hopping Monsters
Use recycled and found materials to build your monster, then feel the force, flex your elastic, store some energy and fling your fabulous flying monster up in the air.
Chemistry is Everywhere
Design your own molecules – find out why water is V shaped, spot the difference between paracetamol and ibuprofen, and let your imagination run riot while building some of the most important chemical molecules there are.
Making Marvellous Medicines
From the lab to the chemists, we rely on a pharmacopeia of medicines to keep us well and cure disease. But how are new medicines discovered? Become a medical researcher and test your lab skills by making your own tonics and tablets. From finding which part of the cell to treat to testing the results, see every stage on this drug discovery journey.
The Variation in us
Have you ever been told you’ve got someone else’s nose? This isn’t about organ theft, but generic inheritance. Find out how family resemblance is passed down through the generations by creating your own baby ‘reebops’ , plus start building your own cells and learn the differences between neurons, muscles and blood cells.
Bricks aren’t typically considered to be the most thrilling item in the world. But these aren’t any old bricks – these are radio electronic bricks, which can be combined to create a plethora of devices – in this case, two-way amateur radios.
Life, the Universe and Everything
At last science has a pretty complete explanation of the whole shebang, from the Big Bang to Bognor Regis: how the universe was formed, how galaxies happened, the origins of planets, the emergence of life, the evolution of humans and the patterns of history. Richard Robinson aims to cover it all in 13.72 minutes – that’s one minute per billion years – or die laughing in the attempt. as a finale he breathes life into a bowl of custard. Timed shows throughout the day.
DNA Detectives: Crack the DNA Code
Turn DNA detective as you develop your ability to decode genomes. Find out how viruses kidnap DNA and join in with an exploration of how it is wrapped and unwrapped as its code is read.
Wonderful Wood
Remarkable things can be created by understanding the amazing properties of wood. Discover its beauty and strength and learn how to build hardy yet lightweight structures… including a 16ft bridge-in-a-suitcase.
Project Eardrum – the Science of Sound
Put your ear to the ground and investigate the science of sound – Project Eardrum is a noisy exploration of how we hear and the workings of the human ear. Step into a world of rhythm and beats, including human drum machines, space sounds, and jelly baby soundwaves. A foot-stomping family-friendly experience that will inspire, entertain and enthuse in equal measures. 4 shows throughout the day.
Chemistry Rocks! in the South Downs National Park
The South Downs National Park is England’s newest national park, and covers 628 square miles, and a vast range of geology. Take a look at the rocks, soil and water found within the National Park and use chemistry to find out more about what they are and where they came from.
Silhouette Selfies
Silhouettes were the selfies of their day. Learn about their history, discover how they were produced and try making them for yourself, using our copy of a Georgian-period silhouette machine. You can take home the result! From the Regency Townhouse.
Robotic assembly in home 3D printers
Bill Gates thought the future would include a computer in every home. Everyone laughed at him. Now it looks like the future will have a 3D printer in every home. Take part in this free workshop – see what 3D printers can create, learn about the concepts behind 3D printing, and then find out how to design 3D products yourself.
Axe & Paddle Bushcraft
Fancy yourself as a Ray Mears or a Bear Grylls? Get back to nature by learning bushcraft survival skills and artisan woodworking techniques. Axe & Paddle Bushcraft practice and teach traditional craft techniques, making and selling a range of carvings and jewellery.
Tablets in the Classroom of the Future (Comfy Birds)
Will the classrooms of the future be students in cubicles tapping away at their own screens, or will it be a much more collaborative experience. Take a glimpse at the future of education in a collaborative classroom set-up: grab a seat, share a screen, and start chatting and solving riddles.
Living Architecture
Who needs Lego? Discover how buildings stand up by using your body to explore the forces that are at work in structures. Start  body building and may the forces be with you.
Plaster Workshop
Simple mould making workshop with plaster of Paris. Let the Regency Town House experts shows you how, using the skills they employ restoring the property in Brunswick Square to its 19th century gloryFrom the Regency Townhouse.