Brighton Science Festival


This is an archived event from 2018. Bright Sparks will not be taking place in February 2019 – for the latest programme, please visit

Bright Sparks
Hove Park School
Nevill Road
Hove, BN3 7BN
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Disabled Access
Sunday 11 February 2018, 10:00am–5:00pm

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 and explain the hard bits.

Even if you’ve been in the past it’s definitely worth coming back this year as there’s more new stuff than ever before. We’ve got ultrasound objects made of thin air, robots that react to light and telescopes that let you look at the sun. You’ll see earthworms and snakes, handle kitchen chemicals and hear scientific poetry. You’ll build brains, train snails and make Minecraft mods. You’ll have so much fun you won’t even realise you’re learning.

  • Tickets: £6 per person
  • Special family deal: 2 adults, 2 children for £21
  • FREE for under 7s
  • FREE for Compass or Carers’ Card holders (card required)
  • Available online or on the door, but advanced booking recommended

Recommended age 7–14. Refreshments available to buy onsite.
Listings vary between Saturday & Sunday and are subject to change.


Bright Sparks Programme for Sunday

Shaping Sound
Researchers at the University of Sussex are bringing … nothing … or what looks like nothing, just empty air. But although you can’t see anything, you can feel objects, created by focusing ultrasound beams to make patches of air seem solid. This is cutting-edge research. More info.
The Mysterious Case of the Woodchip Burglar
A suspect has been found near the scene of a burglary. The police report has matched some woodchips found in their clothing with the crime scene. Find out about the science of wood and see if you can get the suspect out of jail!
Blast Science: The Wizard Science Show
Attention all witches and wizards! Do you like magic? And do you like science? Well listen up. In this show we will conjure up some explosive potions, a magical cloak, some levitating pixies and a jar of sparkling flames. So grab your broomstick, get your potion ingredients, put on your safety goggles and let’s get cooking. Come and see bubbling cauldrons, sample dragon’s blood, and have all your magical notions go up in flames. Expect to leave with the tail of a newt, some pixie dust and a head full of fizzing science ideas. Featuring Lydia Samuel and Pip Henderson. Shows at 11am and 2pm.
Brighton Science Festival Bright Sparks Sunday, Hove Park School, Sun 14 February, 10:00am-5:00pm Cuddly 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.
Reptiles & Amphibians
Come face to face with some incredible reptiles, amphibians and insects. If you’ve ever wondered how long a chameleon’s tongue is, how a snake breathes whilst eating, or how a spider can double in size, here’s your chance to find out – whilst meeting some incredible animals along the way.
Height Hopes
Height is a complex genetic trait, meaning it is influenced by multiple genetic variants working together. It’s easy to measure, so makes a relatively simple model for understanding traits produced by not one gene, but many. There are lots of genes and environmental effects that affect height. Come find out how!
It’s a Breeze: Wind Turbine Challenge
Put your engineering skills to the test in this bridge-building challenge. Armed only with paper and sticky tape, your mission is to build a bridge strong enough to withstand a weighty cargo of chocolate. Are you up for the challenge? 
Sci-ku Haiku Poetry Lab
Human trials are now being conducted to determine the effects of fusing science and poetry. Previous experiments show this results in enormous leaps in technology and creativity, and has led to innovations that have both improved and endangered the human condition worldwide. Dare you take part?
swimming with plankton Swimming with Plankton
Plankton provide half of the oxygen on the planet and inhabit a realm which is so small it’s invisible to the naked eye. However, with 3D goggles and immersive stereoscopic technology you now can take a dip into the microscopic marine life of one of the world’s tiniest creatures.
Colourful Chromosomes
Can you curl your tongue? Are your ears detached? These are some of the genetic traits you will find out about and use to build your own chromosome.
Ensemble Automata Workshop
Creativity combines with science and engineering in an attempt to build the world’s longest automaton. Delve into a junk box of curious objects and levers, pulleys and spinning wheels – fitting them together to build a giant kinetic artwork. More info.
Dirty Dopers: Cheating or Competing?
Why are certain drugs are banned in sports? What’s the science behind how they work, their effects on the body and how they can be detected? This hands-on experience involves a simple scientific investigation where scientists recruit the help of ‘doping detectives’ to determine which fictional athletes have committed the crime of doping by taking performance enhancing drugs.
Butterfly Feeders
Butterflies and other invertebrates are having a really tough time, with numbers across the UK in significant decline. Butterflies are a sign of a healthy ecosystem, and are a good indicator of how many other invertebrates might be around. Join us today to create an attractive butterfly feeder to encourage butterflies and other insects to your garden or windowsill, and you’ll be playing a part in Giving Nature a Home.
earth worm Earthworm Watch
Civilisation would never have been possible without the earthworm. Victoria Burton shows you some of the 29 different kinds in our soil, and describes how important they are. Meet some friendly earthworms, and perhaps join in the nationwide worm survey. More info.
Kitchen Cupboard Chemistry
Masterchef meets molecules as we throw open the kitchen cupboard and reveal the secret science within. Use washing powder to create oxygen, get the CO2 out of your cake mix, and stock up on hydrogen using nothing but lemon juice and vinegar. Put chemistry back in the kitchen! 1 hour sessions at 11:00am, 1:30pm and 3.30pm. 
Do the Ripe Thing
Get involved with an experiment to turn forgotten foods from the depths of the fridge into tasty treats. Learn to love your leftovers with trusted recipes that everyone will enjoy.
Live Sentences!
Grappling with grammar? Perplexed by punctuation? Bursting to break the rules of the English language? We invite you to shatter the rules of the English language. Become an adverb or a preposition and make the silliest sentences you can.
The Secrets of Pollination
Everyone knows bees are crazy for pollen. But what other creatures help spread pollen about? And what do flowers think about it? Become a pollinator or a flower, and find out the clever ways that the two interact.
Bicycle Drawing Machines
In a fusion of maths and mechanics, these giant drawing machines can create complex Lissajous patterns, giant-sized hands, or whip up a portrait of your friend in minature. Deceptively simple and gloriously complex at the same time – get drawing!
Chocolate Blind Tasting
Have you ever wondered why food tastes different when you have a cold? Or why whisky and wine connoisseurs spend so much time sniffing before they drink? Join Science Rocks for a chocolate blind taste test, and find out how your nose and tongue produce your sense of taste.
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 a fun robot project using the micro:bit computer. We’ll also show you how we use programming in the real world to control industrial automation processes. From Eurotherm by Schneider Electric. More info.
The Science of Shopping
What’s scientific about shopping? The way we study it, for one thing! Researchers from LSE use behavioural science methods to investigate how young people learn about money. Play some games and help discover scientific ways to learn about shopping and spending.
Snail’s Pace
Any gardener will tell you snails are a threat to their crops and their sanity. But what if we could train them to carry out simple tasks? Take a snail under your wing, show it the ropes, and make it a slave to your bidding! You will run a ‘Snail Bootcamp’, testing a snail’s ability to remember their training and perform simple tasks.
Cells on a Journey – How Cancer Spreads 
Cancer is not simple – and discussion of it is often riddled with misconceptions. The Department of Oncology at the University of Oxford is out to demystify a disease that will affect half of us during our lives. Find out how cells spread and learn some of the science that will make tomorrow’s cancer medicine better than today’s.
Can you smell as well as a shark?
Test your sense of smell with very dilute perfume of varying concentrations and compare your sense of smell with that of a shark. Also, find out about your peripheral vision and find out how your eye sight compares with that of other animals. Take the Stroop Test to explore how words influence what we see and discover how the brain handles mixed messages.
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.
Jumping Beans
Our favourite example of fantastic physics, demonstrating gravity, friction and momentum. Make one to take home.
Immunity for Your Community!
What is immunisation and how do vaccines protect our bodies against disease? Many people have questions about vaccines and don’t know where to find out the best up-to-date information.  Join the British Society for Immunology to play our interactive games showing how the immune system and vaccines work and talk to our experts to get fact based information on immunisations.  
Heroes and Villains
We all know there are plenty of bad germs out there, but what about the heroes of the microscopic world? Microbes are so tiny that they can’t be seen by the naked eye, but they can have an enormous impact on our lives. Heroes & Villains is a game that lets you sort the good microbes from the bad, learning the role they play in our lives, and how they can help or hinder us. Find out more about how microbes can make your bread, keep you healthy and help plants grow.
Augmented Reality
Step into another dimension with augmented reality – come face to face with startlingly lifelike dinosaurs, or take a trip inside the human body and discover what makes you tick. 
Science Bookshop
City Books join us with their magnificent pop-up bookshop featuring a huge range of educational and creative books.
Pencil and Paper Circuit Boards!
Kids and parents can take part in making their own electric circuit board using paper and pencil. The pencil is made of graphite and allows electricity to pass though. Use your skills and imagination – and pencils! – to make an LED light up or a motor run.