Sunday, 14 February 2016

Education and fun take centre-stage at NI Science Festival

- Second annual NI Science Festival programme runs from February 18 to February 28 –

PLAYFUL chemistry, ugly animals and a record-breaking global experiment are all on offer to young people across Northern Ireland as part of a festival which proves that a career in science is anything but boring.

The Northern Ireland Science Festival, returning for a second year, provides a showcase for the wonders of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and runs from February 18 -28 in venues all over the country.

Educational events in 2016 will include events on The Science of the Lusitania, Life as an Astronaut, Mapping Titanic Trees and even Elephant’s Toothpaste.

Lotions, Potions and Explosions, a look at the Science of Justice, a Home Made Sci Fi Challenge, a peek Inside the Body, and even a Minecraft Day will also be on the programme.

Last year's inaugural festival incorporated more than 100 events across the country, drawing in more than 50,000 attendees.

Backed by the Department of Employment and Learning, Belfast City Council, Ulster University, Queen’s University, the Department for Social Development, the British Council and MCS Group, the 2016 event promises to be bigger and better.

The programme will once bring together the very best of local and international talent across all things STEM-related and there are plenty of education events covering every corner of Northern Ireland to get young people engaged in a career in science.

The main event for aspiring scientists is the Global Experiment, which takes place on Tuesday February 23 and will put the festival on a worldwide footing.

Last year the festival helped break the Guinness World Record with 1,339 individuals taking part in the Largest Practical Science Lesson ever at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast.

This year NISF is going global, with an opportunity for schools, community groups, clubs and families in Northern Ireland to be among the first to take part in the 2016 Royal Society of Chemistry’s Global Experiment.

Mission:Starlight - which includes a tutorial video featuring astronaut Tim Peake, currently orbiting the globe - encourages young people to investigate materials that block or limit UV light using UV colour changing beads. As part of the RSC’s 175th anniversary, pupils will be collaborating with thousands of students from around the world and can conduct the experiment at home or in the classroom, then post data and add a picture to the RSC’s worldwide evolving database to see how results compare to others around the world. Participants are encouraged to report their progress via social media and upload results to the Global Experiment website.

Meanwhile in Coleraine, the Northern Regional College will be hosting A Look Inside STEM Industries for GCSE students to gain hands-on experience in specialised STEM Associated Workshops, aimed at industrial applications in the areas of Science, Construction, Engineering, I.T. and Sport Science.

For teachers, STEM to STEAM in the Classroom, which runs from Tuesday February 23 - Thursday February 25 across various locations, will include Sparking the Imagination, which explores electronics and basic circuits in the primary classroom.

Animation in KS3 Science will show how animation techniques can be used as a tool to support teaching and learning across a range of scientific concepts and topics, while Digital Storytelling in Enquiry Based Science will use iPads to show how digital storytelling and enquiry-based science activities can be used in the primary classroom.

And if you want your budding science career to go with a bang, Playful Chemistry at Stranmillis University College offers a playful formula for chemistry, setting chemical concepts in exciting, every day and imaginary contexts.

The programme will involve an interactive ‘fizz-bang’ demonstration lecture by Tim Harrison from the Royal Society of Chemistry, in which he performs fun experiments.

And back for a second year is the ever-popular Ugly Animals event on Friday February 26 at Titanic Belfast. Biologist and presenter Simon Watt encourages us to ditch pandas and penguins, and celebrate the world’s most aesthetically challenged endangered species. The show, a huge hit all over the world, explores the incredible biology of the animal kingdom’s most monstrous, featuring videos, demonstrations and lots and lots of audience participation.

NI Science Festival Director Chris McCreery: “This year we are going global, with an opportunity for schools, community groups, clubs and families in Northern Ireland to be among thousands of students from around the world collaborating in the 2016 Royal Society of Chemistry’s Global Experiment. Contributing and engaging on an international level on this scale is a hugely exciting and valuable thing to do, and we're all proud to be part of it.”

For further information about the Northern Ireland Science Festival and ticketing log on to , or @niscifest