By Heather Dimmer
This year’s annual Swansea Science Festival at the Waterfront Museum played host to more than forty exhibits over seven exhibition zones, with hundreds of activities for all ages to boot – from goo-making to riding a hydrogen bicycle to holding some medical maggots.
The festival isn’t just about science, though. It’s about making science accessible to everyone and showing people why it’s interesting and how it affects our daily lives. While some stalls and displays are aimed at younger children, most if not all of the exhibits have fascinating real-world applications that, once explained, shows you that even the simplest things can actually sometimes be much, much more than what you’d expect. Everyone working the stalls makes a big effort to draw in and engage with people, making their exhibitions interactive, fun, and informative in order to get people excited to learn about science. Additionally, the festival provides an excellent platform to raise awareness about campaigns pertaining to scientific research, such as the Farr Institute and their #datasaveslives campaign, and the MARS project, who are using 3D printed models to help people visualise how much activity they should do each week. Hosted by our university, the event sees all seven of our colleges, many staff and student volunteers, and a plethora of other organisations come together for the weekend to inform and entertain, one of the furthest being Ari Espinoza hailing from the University of Arizona, USA, who attended to deliver a talk on the HiRISE Camera – the most powerful camera of its kind ever sent to another planet, which is helping us see Mars like never before.
More talks ran all day throughout both days of the festival, from the first talk on Saturday – an interactive forensics show, “Junior Detectives” – to “So You Think You Know Star Wars?”, the last talk of the weekend which saw a Storm Trooper strolling around the festival all day on Sunday high-fiving everyone.
Having spent both days working on one of the stalls myself, it was amazing to see the excitement and passion of everyone in the building, from both the visitors and the people helping out. Everyone got stuck in, the talks had queues running halfway back down the Colonnade, and despite the less-than-optimal weather, the Falconry UK Tent on Sunday had people watching and holding their falcons and owls constantly. It was fantastic to see all the colleges come together to help put on such an event, and I was pleasantly surprised to see others that I knew visiting or helping out as well. Huge thanks to everyone who contributed, and bring on next year!