12 Dec 2012

Christmas shoppers stopped in their tracks by science buskers

Christmas shoppers in Newcastle City Centre were stopped in their tracks today by the fun and fascinating live demonstrations of a new team of science buskers (Wednesday, December 12).

Newcastle University’s Street Science Team hit the streets for the first time to provide an informative and inspirational break for shoppers by bringing to life science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in their unique way. They also provided a sneak preview of some of the educational entertainment Newcastle can expect from the British Science Festival when it comes to the city next year.

From balancing on balloons to using soda bottles to create a Christmas-themed vortex, shoppers around Grey’s Monument discovered the science behind a range of puzzling phenomena, including how polar bears keep warm in winter and how whirlpools work.

27 Newcastle University undergraduates and postgraduates have come together to create the Street Science Team to engage the public on STEM-related issues and encourage adults and children alike to be inspired by the science that Newcastle is renowned for on a global stage.

Jenny Rigby, a second year biology student, joined the Street Science Team as the first step towards pursuing her dream of becoming a television wildlife presenter. She said: “I’ve always loved science and I’m really keen to share my enthusiasm with other people, so this opportunity is the perfect step on the ladder to becoming the next David Attenborough. When science is demonstrated in this way the excitement and enthusiasm we feel about it as presenters is contagious and the audience really catches it.

“But it’s about more than just entertainment. It’s about the knowledge behind our demonstrations and if we can spread the word about how cool and interesting science is then we’ve really achieved something.”

The idea to create a team of science buskers stemmed from the recognition by Newcastle University that more needs to be done to encourage and engage with the next generation of potential scientists and engineers.   

It is hoped the team will become a regular feature at NewcastleGateshead’s year-long calendar of festivals and events, and will be frequently spotted around the city centre talking to visitors and residents.

Ahead of the British Science Festival’s arrival  in the city next year from 7th – 12th September, the Street Science Team will also promote how residents can get involved via the Ideas Take Flight campaign, which encourages people to help shape the Festival through their ideas and questions.

Professor Ella Ritchie, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Newcastle University, said: “Newcastle is very proud of its status as a city of science but we are acutely aware of the need to continue to inspire and engage the next generation of world-class scientists and engineers.

“The Street Science Team is a fun way of delivering a serious message about the opportunities studying STEM subjects can lead to. The enthusiasm and knowledge of the science team students mean they themselves are perfect advertisements for a career in science.”

Ideas Take Flight campaign’s website at www.ideastakeflight.org  

For more information on the British Science Festival visit http://www.britishscienceassociation.org/web/BritishScienceFestival/

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