Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Manchester Science Festival 09

Everything you need to know about this festival you can find on their website. It also comprises of a blog which is regularly updated.
There were very many events taking place over Greater Manchester, quite alot at MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) where I spent most of my time and also where I had my training. This the third year of the festival but the first one for me so I was very excited.I got to meet and work with lots of lovely people. The kids were alot of fun and this was good experience for me working with them. I learned new things eg DNA modelling with wire and coloured beads. I got to see things many great things too. For example a replica of the Mars Rover, which was very impressive. Also 'Baby' which was the first ever computer to be constructed and it was built here in Manchester. As a special treat for kids, in the special exhibitions hall was a CBBC interactive booth. This was ran by a lovely guy called Isaac who's come all the way from London for this. When I was not wearing my purple STEM Ambassador T-shirt I was a CBBC volunteer so it was a full and busy week for me. Alas we weren't allowed to keep our white t-shirts:( My first day at the festival, was spent at The Manchester Mueseum which is part of Manchester University. Here I watched and helped the kids with the Darwin Tree of Life. Before their arrival, it was a case of securing wallpaper to the floor with duct tape and stenciling the title in the middle of it. The idea is that the kids look around the museum and decide upon which animal they see which they would like to draw. Then they come to us and get to draw it on the Tree of Life. They then have to draw a line connecting it to another creature which has similar features. Great fun. Photographic evidence of this and me doing my CBBC stint can be seen on my other blog. I may get around to shift them over here  
The next day was an entire CBBC day for me. Plenty to entertain the kids. There was a mobile treasure hunt, all texts free of course. This took the kids around the museum so they get chance to see everything, only 4 clues and should take 30 mins max. Then they come back and whisper to us hopefully the correct answer. They recieve a very colourful swish certificate and a multilingual pencil as well as getting to watch a 60 second animation. They can then do the Bamzooki workshop if they want but the text hunt isn't compulsory. Apparently Bamzooki is a kiddies CBBC show which I'd never heard of, haven't been a kid for a loooooong time! Anyway the kids get to design and build their own robots and then fight each other Robot War style! All on computer and this was all set up and designed by resident computer genius, the lovely Bjorn whom I assume to be swedish. The kids could also invent something, draw their ideas and stick their drawings on the invention wall. Or they could make cardboard models of characters from CBBC shows. Again my ignorance of those was overwhelming. Or they could make a 'chatterbox'. Remember those? This one has scientific questions in it. This certainly kept the kids amused and they seemed to really get into it. They could wear labcoats if they desired as well as a silly 'thinking cap'. I must say I found my CBBC time to be a very rewarding blast. I enjoyed it immensely. Whilst occupying the kids the adults could look around at the other stalls which were there. All scientific of course. I was impressed that in the latter half of the week was a stand all the way from St Andrews University. The next day I was with STEM again. I spent the morning on the information desk and then had great fun in the afternoon doing DNA modelling with wire and coloured beads. I got to see a lecture by Prof Frank Close of Oxford. Basically he was just plugging his new book 'Antimatter'. I acted as Usher letting people in, got to see the lecture and then escort the prof out. I was supposed to take him to the info desk and book him a taxi but as it wasn't raining he wanted to walk. The final weekend of the festival was significantly quieter but I think thats good, people get a better chance to look at everything, though that really hasn't been a problem all week. I did my STEM duty again on saturday spending some time on the information desk. I was told to go and see if anyone in the exhibition hall needed me. They didn't but this gave me a chance to look around properly. There was a spare desk where the DNA modelling had been so we did that again for a while as an extra. Then I did some paperwork (cutting out tickets). Not the most exciting day but I enjoyed it all the same. Sunday was the final day so I felt quite sad. I did my last CBBC stint in the morning until 1pm then donned my purple t-shirt for the final time. This consisted of ushering 2 lectures. The first involved a cab ride to Zion Art Centre in Hulme which I'd never been to before, its pretty cool. Large auditorium. Anyway a lecture called Horrible Science was given by Nick Arnold who is quite well know but not to me until now. He's written a series of books by that name and his lecture was full of silliness. Definitely for kids only followed by a book signing. Then we went to the university academic library John Rylands on Deansgate where there was an interesting lecture on the history of hypnosis. Yep he tried to hypnotise us in the end. No book signing this time, and that was it all over.........I'd certainly do this all again and would recommend it to anyone. As well as visiting such festivals of course. I think this will be my longest blog post ever ;D    

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