Leeds Festival of Science

Image courtesy of Leeds University press office

Image courtesy of Leeds University press office

On Saturday 19th March, Leeds University held it’s “Be Curious” event as part of the Leeds Festival of Science (5th –23rd March) . The festival is aimed at both young and old and is part of the UK-wide British Science Week 2016.

The Leeds Festival of Science is now in it’s 11th year and is a celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). This year, Leeds University gave us a glimpse of what they do by focussing on the themes of “Health and Wellbeing”, with each visitor activity being tied (sometimes tenuously) to these subjects.

As this was our first science fair, I was keen to hear what my children thought of “Be Curious” – and if it was child-friendly. The event started at 10a.m., but as we had to come by train, we arrived at 11.30 – not thinking our late start would make a difference to the day …

As we arrived at the Parkinson Building on Woodhouse Lane, we found that the University of Leeds had designed 5 “trails” for this festival, which showcased different departments and disciplines.

We were welcomed by friendly, knowledgeable student guides who were on hand to lead visitors through each trail (which started every half an hour) – and to facilitate science demonstrations.

The trails were:

  • Minds, Brains & Bodies.

  • Senses in Health.

  • Engineering.

  • Health through Time.

  • Virtual Health.

There were also 10 stalls in the Parkinson Building, which gave a brief overview of subjects like:

  1. Law at different moments in life.

  2. 100,000 Genome Project.

  3. Engineering a Healthy Body & Planet.

  4. Mathematics in Health & Disease.

  5. Medieval Food.

  6. Knitville.

  7. Digital Pathology.

  8. 3D photos.

  9. Cycling Scenarios in Leeds.

  10. Healthy Ecosystems.

Now, we didn’t see all the trails and stalls, by any means because there was just so much to see and do, we couldn’t take it all in. So we had to be selective.

We chose the “Minds, Brains & Bodies”, “Senses in Health” and “Engineering” trails.

  • The Minds, Brains & Bodies trail showed us human physiology, as well as a sheep’s heart (while the rest of us were gagging, my daughter gloved up and got stuck in).

  • The Senses in Health trail had us smelling a variety of bottles containing different scents, and fed us nice, but ordinary cake – the family were expecting something noxious, but it didn’t happen – I think they missed a trick there.

  • The Engineering trail introduced us to “Frank” the cycling skeleton and, a big hit with my children, “Stick-Man-Boogie” – a computer programme tracking human movement and translating it into a stick man. This led to loads of dancing and jumping around.

Of the stalls, we only went to the planetarium, medieval food and knitville. There just wasn’t enough time to see everything.

Conclusion? My comment is:

“Excellent”.

My childrens’ ?

“Awesome”.

Asking the children to name their favourite activities, they particularly liked the Planetarium, Stick-Man- Boogie and the sheep’s heart (although, they’d have been more impressed if it moved).

My daughter’s question as we were leaving, “When’s the next one?”

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