The most important fun they’ll ever have.
At a school this January I met a twelve year-old boy who didn’t know how to tie a simple knot. Another child had never operated a ruler before; he was trying to switch it on.
The Festival was started thirteen years ago because of discoveries like this – my discoveries of how much some children have yet to discover. There’s still a lot to be done, clearly. We need not just engineers and chemists, but also people who can handle a simple tool safely and efficiently. The bridge builders and pharmacists of tomorrow will depend on others who can tie knots and measure things.
The Brighton Science Festival works at both ends of the knowledge spectrum: recognizing and developing the talents of the keen ones, and encouraging interest in the less motivated ones. Our Bright Sparks weekend, school tours and youth club visits are designed to be easy to understand and enjoyable, but they all have added depth when the need arises.
What we do:
Devise school projects that stress team work and growth mind-set (creative thinking), which relate to specific topics in the national curriculum, and which are fun.
Arrange visits to community groups in Sussex with small-scale science-based activities, for old and young (eg Scouts, Guides, Woodcraft Folk, Community centres, Home educators, Youth clubs)
Take Pocket Science, a funfair with a scientific twist, to halls and community centres around Sussex and the South-East.
Organise a week-long Festival for 7-14 year-olds in February, comprising:
- Bright Sparks: a weekend event in Hove Park Upper School, with 60 activities from industries, universities and interest groups in the South-east, for 7-12 year-olds.
- Hands-On Half-Term: workshops through half term week, at various locations in central Brighton, for 7-14 year-olds and their parents.
Organise a week-long Festival for adults in October comprising :
- Big Science I: a day of talks for audiences 16+ years-old, non-specialist.
- Big Science II: a day on a single topic, with various speakers and activities
- Various events during the week in pubs, theatres and rooms around Brighton.
The cunning plan
We are very grateful for the Sussex businesses and industries who participate, bringing stands and explainers of the highest standards. But it is hard for them to find the time, when they are often snowed under with work; something which after Brexit will become more critical each year. So we have a cunning plan:
- Through 2017 we will ask educators, businesses and industries around Sussex to think of what skills they need developed.
- We will devise a game, trick, workshop or challenge around it.
- Then serve it up at their local youth club as part of Widening Participation.
- Then do it in schools as part of the January tour.
- Then add it to the Pocket Science Festival, and take it on the road.
For instance #1: Energy companies are increasingly turning to wind turbines, (in the teeth of much opposition). Our ‘windmill workshop’ sets young people the task of making the most efficient turbine. The results are always interesting, sometimes stunning, and on one occasion actually identical to a turbine created by Siemens. Plus it’s a way of familiarising the communities with wind turbine technology.
For instance #2: Edible Geology is a concept which has been out there for some time – let’s show how geological or engineering structures can be created in cake form: mountain building and erosion using a Mars Bar, towers made of spaghetti and marshmallow, earthquakes simulated with jelly.
For instance #3: So much household waste can be recycled, and we can discover ways to use it, in workshops as part of Pocket Science.
Find out more
Dr. Richard Robinson
Brighton Science Festival