Saturday, 9 November 2013

My Manchester Science Festival 2013

For me this year it was short and sweet. So short and sweet that I can fit it all into this singular post. It ran from 24th October until 3rd November this year. I was in Amsterdam for the opening weekend and know I missed some excellent events. I love the book talks, mostly in Blackwells on Oxford road and there were even more of those this year it seems, most during this weekend. I was available for most of the week to reprise my role as a STEM Ambassador but was only allocated 2 days, friday and saturday. Never mind, this means I can attend events as a visitor myself! Such a bummer that some of the ones you want to attend actually clash. So I found my self attending a couple of afternoon book sessions during the week and I loved them as I always do. The first speaker was a lovely witty guy called Caspar Henderson who obviously loved animals and he spoke about animals which are rare and which many people don't know about. His book was called 'The book of barely imagined beings'. I had initially thought, it was going to be about yetis etc! Silly me. As I enjoyed his talk so much I bought his book.  I always do, a good job I love reading. The following day I saw another wonderful talk by Tim Birkhead, a man who has spent 40yrs studying birds, specifically  the guillmot which looked alot like a penguin to me! Once again another entertaining talk by a guy who was teaching us what it is like to be a bird. He made it sound so fascinating and of course I bought his book Bird Sense and had it signed. I learned that birds can't detect symmmetry but can see in ultraviolet. If you ever make it to this festival, I highly recommend the book readings. There were of course many other amazing events this year, the main themes being brains and the icelab. The icelab was in the rafters of the 1830 and I found myself here for 2 sessions. Firstly on friday I spent the afternoon in the powerhall reuniting with Becky. Lovely girl though my memory fails to inform me of which festival/events we have met up at before. We were doing an event called doodlebots which was tons of fun. Before we could help the kids though we had to make one ourselves and both rose to the challenge admirably. They consist of a motor and 2 AA batteries, a piece of card and 4 marker pens and you need tape and a hole puncher. After making the doodlebots the idea was to place them on a sheet of paper, switch them on and let them go and let them draw a work of art. However, we both failed at this but thankfully the kids did a whole lot better and were able to take their masterpieces home. This is such a fabulous idea! The dads and grandads were really engaged and on a mission to make it work! A truckload of fun. Then my evening session took me to the icelab where I saw a fascinating talk about architecture in extreme enviroments. David Garcia talked us through a series of projects showing us new ways and new approaches to architecture.
Saturday afternoon began with a disney movie called Eight Below back in the icelab. It was an adventure involving huskies and I had to fight back tears but thankfully it was a happy ending. The festival was over far too quickly for me and my evening session saw me in Waterstones on Deansgate. I say this dear readers, as if you all know Manchester. Forgive me :) This was my first time in this bookshop myself, and the other volunteer and I, Meghan, had time for a coffee in the huge coffee shop. This talk was by tv astronomer Mark Thompson who gave a great talk about the cosmos. This talk was aimed at anyone who wanted to get into astronomy but can be enjoyed by experts too. Nobody in the room owned a telescope! Yes, I bought his book and was saddened that the festival is over once again. It was wonderful to see the MOSI team again and I hope to do this again next year. Always a resounding success. Love it!        

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