Friday, 31 October 2014

Screening of The Mummy

Last night at our beautiful John Rylands Libray I volunteered at a screening of  The Mummy (1932, Boris Karloff). Met and chatted with 3 other interesting and nice volunteers again. There was a talk before the film abou old techniques used to analyse mummies to see the person had died of or what medical ailments they may have suffered from. I was there to meet and greet at both events.

Most people will take any opportunity to visit this library and we are no exception. It is really something to see if you ever find yourself in this fair city.

After everyone was seated we wacthed the movie which started at 7.30pm and finished at 9pm. As it is a horror movie I wasn't expecting laughter but there was plenty of that amongst the audience. Also a couple of funny moments involving technology breaking down. I guess that is funny to me because there we were in this old ornate building with the lights turned down low watching an old black and white movie on a small ye olde projector screen when all of a sudden a computer error message popeed up. If that hadn't happened I'd have thought it was all done using the old school projection style.

It was a nice night for walking to the bus  stop and I was accompanied along Deansgate by one of the other volunteers whose name I wish I knew. Hopefully I will find out of Sunday at our Thank you party. So another successful and pleasant experience. It only remains for me to wish you all a very happy and safe Halloween. I am not doing anything for the ascience festival tonight which means I can go to our local beer festival which is currently happening. Looking forward to my last science festival session all day tomorrow though! x


Festival Goodies!

Yesterday I picked up one of these lovely festival tote bags. Isn't it a beauty? You can pick one up too for just £3 :)

Thursday, 30 October 2014

BFI Event

Wednesday night and we are half way through the festival already! This marks the first of 3 evenings dedicated to the BFI event.The venue was the main warehouse at our MOSI.

Each night a double bill screening of 2 films by a particular director. First up was Terry Gilliam with Brazil and 12 Monkeys. I have the latter on dvd and haven't watched it for years. It is a memorable and excellent movie. If you haven't seen it, I recommend you do. I was very happy to be volunteering on this night as out of all the films screened there is only one I haven't seen and that is Brazil. I arrived on time at 5.30pm and met the other volunteers. Had a welcome coffee, egg and mayo sarnie and some 'Swizzlers' as there was a big bucket of these retro sweets to keep us going. 2 volunteers were doing evaluations, one was showing people to the seats and I was on meet and greet and had to apologise as unfortunately our guestspeaker had cancelled due to illness. There was a bar and a free raffle to win posters and banners etc. Brazil started at 7pm and we all sat down at the back to watch it.  It has a great cast, was very funny and of course being TG, it was weird as well. Very weird. Whilst I am pleased to have seen it and really enjoyed it, I can't pretend I knew what it was about. Didn't really like the tragic ending for our hero played by Johnathon Pryce. I loved the music and even though I haven't seen this film before I have, oddly enough, heard the theme tune before which is lovely and I still have it in my head now as I type :D. It finished later than anticipated at 9.20pm rather than 9.10pm. We still had an interval and the raffle tickets were draw during this time. Then 9.45pm saw the start of Twelve Monkeys. The other volunteers had left during the first film, just me left! I stayed for 20 odd minutes, just long enough to see Brad Pitt being weird. This film was due to finish at 11.50pm but I left at 1.30pm, by which time it was raining alot but no matter. I wasn't cold and had had a great evening. Thank you MOSI!  
This evenings double bill is Total Recall and Starship Troopers. Both fab scifi films by the superb dutch director Paul Verhoeven. Starting at 7pm. Book and buy your tickets online.

If you'd rather watch something older and spookier why now pop along to the beautiful John Rylands library to see the 1932 movie The Mummy starting the one and only Boris Karloff. It starts at 7.30pm and is free but you must book.

I will be there so I would love to see you.

Finally tomorrow night sees the last installment of BFI at MOSI with a double bill by my favourite director Ridley Scott. Alien and Prometheus, whats not to love? :D

If you do attend any of these screenings, why not let me know what you thought of them in the comments below. Thanks and I hope you did enjoy them

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Science Festival Book reading

My next event as a volunteer wasn't for a few days and as I love the book readings I of course went to the second one at Blackwells too. There are 6 altogether but I can't make it to any more after this. This one was by George Marshall whose life's work has been to convince people that Climate Change is a real thing. His talk was about why people ignore climate change and to sum up the answer is largely because it is too far into the future and people can only deal with the present. This talk was a sell out and more chairs were needed. George is a very entertaining, eloquent and funny speaker and the talk did get political. He has good insight into that whereas personally I try to stay clear. I loved it and was really glad I got a chance to see his talk. I bought his book, had it signed and abit of a chat. I told him that as a scientist it is frustrating that people still won't believe/change their minds even when you present them with evidence. He agreed saying that it was maddening and that the best way to shift their beliefs is to say that this is what you believe or are convinced is true.Great Advice! I am now following him on twitter @climate george. If you want to know what his talk was about then buy his new book 'Why do people ignore climate change?'

George had his own introducer. He is the guy on the left.This was a great way to spend a Monday evening!

There is still plenty of great science and fab events to come at the festival so why not come along and see for yourself. It will entertain you kids too over the half term.

Enjoy :D


Science Spectular!

This event took place on Saturday 25th October at Whitworth Hall and Manchester Museum. It was an all day event and spectactular it was indeed. So much to see! I went to MOSI for 8.45am first to be briefed and myself and the other lovely volunteer I worked with on this, Victoria Edmondson were put in a taxi at 9.30am and taken to Whitworth Hall. I was not only excited about this event but looking forward immensely to seeing the Hall as I've never been there before. We met our contact Dee-Ann who had a transparent folder with info for us each, we were briefed and given a quick tour. We spent what seemed like a long time in the welcome area reading our info. The event didn't start until 11am anyway and here we met the 2 ladies who would man the welcome desk Suzanne whom we saw the most and I'm sorry the name of the other young lady escapes me.

  We directed people to where they wanted to be and the kids got a challenge card where upon completing an activity, they got a coloured star to put on the card. Once they completed their card and came back here they did a lucky dip to win either a festival bracelet or a purple bug. At one stage I went around asking the researchers if there was anything they needed. This was after going around with speech bubbles asking them why they thought science was spectacular, for the feedback board downstairs. I really enjoyed this, my first taste of what they were doing. I got to see a tank of tiny but very cute swimming turtles. I got to make some graphene too by using the traditional method of scotch tape. It was very sparkly. I hadn't epected it to be so pretty.Then we viewed it under a microscope slide. Just being 1 atom think it was of course the very light bits which are graphene as opposed to the grey and black bits. Happy to have done this as I have always had a thing about graphene. I was happy to see an RSC table about crystallography especially as this is the International Year of Crystallography. I had a nice chat to the guy who told me thi had been dropped on him at the last minute. He showed me an engine turbine with a coating on it and I mentioned to him the Horizon Race for Life film which I suggest he see.
 Whitworh Hall is fantastic with a big old church organ at one end and a great ceiling. Why didn't I think to take a photo? :/

 However the highlight of the morning was Engineers without Borders.  They were downstairs in one of the rooms along the corridor you see in the above photo. A smallish room and I noticed straight away in the middle of it was a bicycle. A guy messing about with a food blender came up and asked me if I would like a smoothie.Surprised by the question, lol but I said 'yes please'. He led me to a table then asked if I wanted to do it myself or to let him. I thought I might as well let him do it for me. So as I watched him chop up fruit and put in the blender I asked that EWB of course do stuff for the developing world and he said yes. He then went and put the blender onto the back of the bike! I said' you don't want me to get on the bike and pedal do you?' knowing the answer was yes lol.So I did and before I knew it I was being filmed but seeing me do this encouraged others to come in and have a go. So I was happy with that and my smoothie. Great fun! I wonder what happened to the footage.  
We had our lunch break and I was fairly cold by now having been stood in the welcome area for a while. Was hoping for coffee and a hot lunch in the cafe but alas no. They had laid on water, apples and small chocolate bars to sustain us. This was lunch too. I think my favourite part of the day was the afternoon when we got to work on a couple of stalls upstairs and chat to researchers. First of all we went on the 'Smart Materials' stall with too really nice guys whom I enthusiatically told I had a Masters in Polymer Science. I got a face full of jargon I hadn't bargained for as they were PDRA's! Kids seemed to love what they were doing putting coloured plastic ducks in water and they then changed colour. Also, lengths of wire into a beaker of water which seemed to magically return to its original shape. Here we met a lovely marketing lady called Sam who works at the uni and whom I now follow on twitter as @theginflip. How is that for a handle? :)

The next stall we went on for the rest of the afternoon was with the Life Science Department and their algae but I learned a thing or two here. They had a jar of pondwater and had taken a sample from  it to put on a microscope slide. Using a laptop and software this was rigged up to a small screen where you could look at the various algae in the pondwater and we got the kids to draw the ones they liked on a postive note which was then put on the nearby board (Algae hall of fame?') There is a wiggly one called spirulina. This apparently used as a blue food colouring e.g. smarties. There is even a picture of it and other bugs on the bag of smartie packets.

This is only the first part. The second part involved extracting the food colouring from powdered Spirulina and I watched as my colleague Victoria guided kids through this. A microspatula of  powdered Spirula is placed in a small pestle and mixed with 1 squeezy pipette full of deionised water. This was placed in a mini centrifuge and the supernatant placed in a portable mass spectrometer to show what the blue food colouring agent looked like. I was enjoying this so much I forgot to take any photo's. Such a mega event all round. Alot of energy and fun in this room! We had plenty of tidying up to do including moving boxes and stuff to Suzannes office just up the road. So we finished at 5pm rather than the expected 4pm. I had an event I wanted to go to at 5.30pm but it is nearby. A book reading at Blackwell's by Mark Avery talking about Martha the last ever Passenger pigeon. It was very interesting and he clearly loves Passenger pigeons. Martha the last one died of old age in Cincinatti Zoo. His interest was piqued because they were extinct and nobody has ever heard of them. Having enjoyed his talk and getting £4 off I bought his book but alas no signature. I love the book shops, a staple and favourite part of the festival for me.

Blackwells Manchester.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

In Conversation with Marcus Coates

I had the priviledge of volunteering on the first day of this years festival at this event. Thursday 23rd October, In Conversation with Marcus Coates and Geoff Sample. This event took place at MOSI at 7pm. I arrived straight from work  at 5.45pm as the others were getting their briefing. Our new coordinator/manager, the lovely Nichola asked me if I also do evaluations too. Never done it before so this is an opportunity to do something new. This mean't asking patrons to fill in a survey and also logging those who refused to. Doors opened at 6.30pm so myself and 2 other lovely volunteers whom I'd met at our induction course stood near the doors. There was a meet and greet, and a fellow evaluator using a tablet. I had a clipboard doing it the old fashioned way. People were very nice and this made it more fun than I thought. The time went quickly and soon we were seated to watch the event. It was interesting to hear about their careers and how they met and began their collaborations. Marcus Coates is an acclaimed artist who currently has an installation at MOSI called 'The Sounds Of Others' which is essentially what this talk was about. Geoff Sample is a Wildlife sound recordist and these 2 guys clearly love their work. They have spent many many hours listening to hundreds of different animal sounds! We were treat to some of them. Marcus started with a recording of himself saying 'hi' then altering its frequency and it became so distorted that it sounded like an array of wild animals, finally like some sort of bear.Very Funny! He continued doing this throughout the talk and the blue whale got mentioned quite a few times. Apparently their sounds are out of the range of human hearing. The Q&A at the end was fun especially as people asked questions about sounds which aim to mimic animal sounds rather than real animal sounds such as the pelican crossing! The audience were then lead to the 1830's warehouse with Marcus and Geoff to see and discuss the installation. We stood near the MOSI main doors ready to hand out flyers to  the patrons as they left. It was all over at 8.45pm and we went home. I hope to see this installation some time later in the festival week.


I will be back to tell you about the Science Spectacular show I volunteered at on Saturday 25th October. This was a fabulous all day event at Manchester Museum and Whitworth Hall. As if that wasn't enough I then went to a book reading at Blackwells :D Why don't you leave me a comment telling me about any festival events you've been to or volunteered at so far? I'd love if if you did.
Sarah xxx

Festival Garb

Here I am at home all dressed up in my new festival t-shirt, badges etc. You can't see that this years shirt is actually a vibrant blue and I'm sorry about the light glare. I'll get a better photo from the festival :D

Here is a pic of my ID and lanyard. I have to give it back when the festival is over but I can keep the t-shirt. Now you know what I look like, you can come up and say hi :)

Thursday, 23 October 2014

And so it begins...

The Manchester Science Festival that starts today! :D Here is a link to the website so you can have alook and plan your visits. There is so much going on and many more venues have been added this year too.

I an a volunteer (STEM Ambassador) for the festival and my first gig is this evening at MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) itself. Can't wait! (Looking forward to see what colour our t-shirts are as well). I am volunteering at 'A conversation with Marcus Coates' who is a renowned artist currently with an installation at MOSI. Excited to be learning about that and how different sounds species make works! Here is a link to this event in case you are free and wnat to pop along and see it. Please do say hello if you see me

My next event is all day Saturday at the university and Whitworth Hall. 'Science spectacular' which has something for all the family and will be alot of fun! Here is a link

Once again if you visit and see me do come over for a chat. I love the science festival and when I'm not volunteering I am planning what events I will be attending myself. Hope to see you there :D


I am grateful for any feedback and comments. Thanks for reading and don't be a stranger xxx