12 Apr 2016
Norwich to host a celebration of discovery and research in the city with events for all the family
Norwich is a world-class city of science, widely acknowledged as a place where major discoveries are made and crucial research is undertaken. The city wide Norwich Science Festival, which is to take place from 18-30 October 2016, will celebrate this vibrant and groundbreaking aspect of the city and aims to put science well and truly on the wider city agenda. The Festival is being coordinated by The Forum leading a new partnership initiative of Norwich organisations.
For 12 days in October there will be a host of diverse, informative, entertaining, engaging and above all inspiring events taking place at venues across the city. People of all ages will be able to immerse themselves in science and explore and discuss all sorts of scientific issues, and as it coincides with the autumn half term break, there will be plenty of events aimed at children and families. The first four days will be focused on activities for schools centred around astronomy, building on the recent interest in Tim Peake’s stay on the International Space Station.
The Forum will act as the hub venue and will host an impressive replica of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) as one of the centrepieces of the Festival. The actual LHC is the world’s largest and most powerful participle accelerator housed at the CERN laboratory which sits astride the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva housed at the CERN laboratory that strides the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. The Forum will also feature an inflatable planetarium. The full programme will be announced closer to the time but talks and activities from familiar TV faces are already confirmed. These early highlights include pioneering scientist Lord Robert Winston, a leading expert on fertility and IVF, ‘the people’s astronomer’ Mark Thompson of Stargazing Live and physicist, oceanographer and broadcaster Helen Czerski who has featured on many programmes including Dara O’Briain’s Science Club, Horizon and The Sky at Night. An inspiring programme is being developed, with events in venues across the city including Norwich Castle Museum, Norwich Playhouse, Open and Norwich Arts Centre, and lots more will be announced in the coming months. All details for events will be available at www.scifest.dev where tickets will also be available.
The Norwich Science Festival is made possible by a unique new cross-city partnership initiative looking to foster significant public engagement with science and nature. The initiative is led by The Forum in partnership with UEA, John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, The Millennium Library, Castle Museum, Norfolk Festival of Nature, RSPB and Norfolk Wildlife Trust amongst others.
Nature and environmental issues will feature heavily in partnership with the Norfolk Festival of Nature, a county-wide partnership of nature bodies led by writer Mark Cocker who explained ‘The Science Festival hosted by The Forum is a great way of encouraging debate on issues that are so important to nature in Norfolk and it will also give a wonderful platform to writers, artists and creative people of all kinds who are inspired by the countryside and wildlife.’
It is hoped that this new addition to the Norfolk calendar will become an annual event. Producer Stuart Hobday, former Director of Norwich Arts said ‘Norwich has one of the strongest bases for science activity in the country. Norwich Research Park has grown and UEA has developed its science research greatly in recent years. But I am also aware that Norfolk is at the forefront of environmental, nature conservation and farming science and from the start we wanted to reflect this side of things. Scientific issues are constantly in the news and we want to inspire young people with the wonder of science and nature, and hopefully present things that will encourage them to take up scientific study with enthusiasm. The Festival will be a wide ranging mix of serious presentations, debates and fun for all.’
Mark Thompson added ‘I’m delighted to be involved in the Norwich Science Festival. It is a great opportunity for people to find out what science is all about and for scientists and science organisations to reach out to the public and show what they do. I was captivated by science at the age of ten when I saw Saturn through a telescope and I hope the festival can not just educate but also enthuse and inspire the scientists of the future.’
Lord Robert Winston enthused ‘I’m delighted to hear that Norwich is developing an annual Science Festival and that I’ll be contributing. Public engagement with scientific issues is more important than ever.’
Norwich has long held a world-class reputation for leading scientific discovery and research. In the 1970’s it was UEA’s Climatic Research Unit that first drew the world’s attention to climate change. The university created one of the first Schools of Computing Science in the UK, now one of the largest and most experienced in the country. Current research across various departments at the university includes studies into the detrimental effects of Amazonian dams on wildlife, ways of improving crop yields to tackle global food shortages and investigations of human cell dysfunctions linked to disorders such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Helen Czerski said ‘Science is part of everyone’s lives. It explains why toast falls butter side down and how plants know which way is up, as well as giving us the tools to develop new medical devices and launch satellites. Norwich Science Festival will provide a fabulous opportunity for everyone to explore a rich variety of scientific ideas. It’s full of events to help us appreciate how the world works now as well as a chance to think about the potential offered by future scientific developments. I’m delighted to be a part of the Festival, and I’m really looking forward to it. There will be something for everyone – come and join us!’