Children and families spoilt for choice at this year’s Cambridge Science Festival

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From science story-telling, science busking and a sensory treasure hunt, to solving a fiendish crime or deciding how you would run the planet and, of course, the two Science on Saturdays, children and families are spoilt for choice at this year’s Cambridge Science Festival (10-23 March).

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Saturday 15 March sees the ever-popular Science on Saturday hosting around 100 events at venues right across the city centre, including the Corn Exchange and the Guildhall. Demonstrations and hands-on activities include everything from virus wars, the wonderful world of blood vessels and discovering the double helix, to stem cell discoveries, bottling your genes and an interactive crime scene. There is simply so much to choose from and the science continues on the Sunday.
Saturday 22 March, the second Science on Saturday, events take place at the West Cambridge Site and focus on mathematics, physics and manufacturing. Once again, the choice is enormous, from laser rocket launching to vacuum bazookas and custard fireballs.
The distinctive gamersbus will also be parked up outside the Hauser Forum on the same day. The gamerbus is a mobile gaming theatre in a unique converted double decker bus, offering access to the latest in gaming through unique partnerships with manufacturers, retailers and games publishers. In addition, the gamerbus will be outside Boots, Sidney Street on Saturday 15 March.
University of Cambridge press release
Once upon a time there was a scientist ¡V well, really an explorer ¡V and actually there were lots of
them. They wanted to find out about the North and South Poles, how to get there, what ice was
made of and what was at the bottom of the ocean¡K On 15 March, well-known story-teller, Marion
Leeper, will be enthralling audiences with a family activity day of science storytelling ¡V The story of
science.
Prior to this, during a curtain raiser event on Saturday 8 March, shoppers at the Grafton Centre in
Cambridge will be amazed and delighted by the science buskers from the British Science Association
Cambridgeshire branch performing a variety of hands-on science experiments and demonstrations,
including patterns that can trick the mind, the physics of wave patterns, the amazing diversity of
natural structures and more.
Over the course of the first weekend (15 ¡V 16 March), the Department of Life Sciences at Anglia
Ruskin University, with support from the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge,
will be presenting, The mystery of the horrible hypothesis ¡V an exciting and lively activity for all ages.
Those taking part must use their scientific detective skills to identify the perpetrators and motives
behind a fiendish crime. Working with a team of researchers, they will solve a series of devious
scientific puzzles from disciplines including psychology, zoology, genetics and forensics.
Speaking about the event, the organiser, Dr Paul Elliot, Director of Studies in Biology and Scientific
Admissions Tutor at Homerton College, Cambridge, and a Senior Lecturer in Animal Behaviour at
Anglia Ruskin University, said: ¡§The mystery of the horrible hypothesis is an adventure activity that
stems from my love of detective stories. Everyone loves a good mystery, and the process of scientific
investigation is really a form of mystery solving.
¡§In this year’s activity, participants will be guided through some key aspects of scientific hypothesis
testing in the atmospheric surroundings of the Pitt Building or Madingley Hall. They must solve a
series of exciting hands-on puzzles, winning prizes along the way. The adventure does not stop after
the activity: participants will be able to use their new skills to solve further puzzles in a cryptic diary
that they take away. This could lead them to find an ¡¥ultimate prize¡¦ that is hidden somewhere in
Cambridge!¡¨
The ultimate version of this event, will take place at Madingley Hall during the evening of Sunday 16
March, during which participants must solve the devious mystery over a three-course candle-lit
meal. Tickets can be booked at: www.ice.cam.ac.uk/murder-mystery-dinner
How would you run the planet? On Saturday 22 March, visitors will be asking themselves this
question as they play the Competition of life game: how would you run the planet? In a world of
finite resources, do they take as much as they can or save for an unpredictable future? This
interactive game will let participants try their luck as the CEO of Earth in a range of possible
scenarios.
Alison Harvey from the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute and one of the
organisers of this event, said: ¡§The Competition of Life Game has been set up by the University of
Cambridge Conservation Research Institute Graduate Students to engage people in thinking about
collective social and environmental issues. With most games you ¡¥win¡¦ if you get the most ¡V whether
points, money, or stuff ¡V with no consequences for taking a lot and leaving others with very little,
and without any idea that resources will end.
University of Cambridge press release
¡§UCCRI students have designed an interactive game that sets up a small-scale economy with renewable limited resources where players must decide whether they will compete for supplies to try to ¡¥win¡¦ for just themselves short-term or work to ¡¥win¡¦ together by managing their restricted resources in a way that benefits all players and biodiversity in the long-term.
¡§Basically, this is a fun way to learn about serious conservation issues!¡¨
Throughout the Science Festival (excluding Sunday 16 ¡V Monday 17 March), young explorers will be able to undertake a mission of discovery and forge their own trail through Cambridge, discovering as they go during the event, Exploring the unknown: a sensory treasure hunt between St John¡¦s College Library and the Polar Museum. Historic explorers didn¡¦t have maps to help them find their way, so they looked for landmark objects and used their senses to map their surroundings.
Meanwhile, over at the Cambridge Science Centre there will be a host of events to keep any budding Einstein going for days (see www.cambridgesciencecentre.org) including:
„h Perception: get hands on with your senses. Tuesday 11 ¡V Friday 14, Tuesday 18 ¡V Friday 21 March, 10am ¡V 5pm, Saturday 15 ¡V Sunday 16, Saturday 22 ¡V Sunday 23 March. Is seeing believing? Find out how illusions can fool your brain and reveal how we really perceive the world around us. Visit our hands on exhibition about the senses.
„h Sunday science. Sunday 16 March. The Cambridge Science Centre goes all out science crazy for the Cambridge Science Festival, with a fun-filled day of hands on non-stop workshops for all the family.
„h Amazing animals: crafty camouflage and communication. Saturday 22 March. How good are you at spotting a copycat? The University Museum of Zoology will be running workshops and activities at the Cambridge Science Centre, exploring animal senses, camouflage and mimicry.
Other events for children and families during the Science Festival include:
„h The plant pattern hunt, Botanic Garden (10-23 March). Self-led family trail. Can you discover all of the plant patterns hidden in the Botanic Garden? Pick up an explorer trail from the Garden ticket office and take a trip around the plant kingdom, collecting patterns as you go.
„h Symmetry of science: a walking tour (15, 17, 19, 21, 22 March). Join Cambridge Science Guides on a walk that will explore the patterns in nature, from crystals to DNA; from code-breakers to rocks, dinosaurs, plants and insects. The afternoon tour on Saturday 22 March will be in Spanish.
„h Meet the little things that run the world (16 March). In this interactive lecture with Dr Ed Turner, we will put insects under the microscope to learn more about their behaviour, natural history and conservation. The session will include some live insects and specimens from the University Museum of Zoology.
„h Hands-on maths fair (22 March). Famously, GH Hardy described mathematicians, like poets and painters, as makers of patterns, and mathematics as a creative art. Find out what patterns you can discover, and explore your creative thinking and critical reasoning, with hands-on activities, games and problem solving challenges for all ages from five to adult. From prime number hopscotch to origami, it¡¦s maths, but not as you may know it!
For more information about the Cambridge Science Festival or to book tickets for any of these events, please visit: www.cam.ac.uk/science-festival
University of Cambridge press release

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