18 Jul 2013

DIY instruments herald opening of British Science Festival bookings

The bizarre sound of straw kazoos, Marigold glove-a-phones and shoe box guitars has heralded the launch of the British Science Festival programme.

Newcastle University’s Street Science Team and Festival organisers gathered at Grey’s Monument in Newcastle to signal the opening of ticket lines with their DIY instruments.

The Street Scientists also used the opportunity to recruit shoppers and visitors for their homemade flashmob orchestra, organised together with the help of student buskers from Framwellgate School, Durham, which will form part of the six-day Festival, in a closing celebration on September 12.

Kate Sinclair, Festival Officer at the British Science Association, said: “The bizarre sound of the Street Scientists’ homemade instruments is an unusual fanfare to mark the opening of the booking lines – but this is no ordinary Festival!

“The musical demonstration is just a taster of the many weird and wonderful ways for people of all ages and differing levels of scientific knowledge to get involved in the science spectacular which will sweep through Newcastle in September.

“The booking lines are now officially open and the programme boasts a total of over 250 interesting and intriguing events spanning everything from fun at the weekend with the family, nights out with friends and ways to explore the very latest research. We are advising people to check out the programme as soon as possible and to book tickets for their favourite events because we expect real appetite for this year’s Festival in Newcastle.”

Newcastle University is hosting the British Science Festival from 7-12 September, with Northumbria University and Newcastle City Council as associate partners. The Festival is one of Europe’s largest and longest-running public science events and will provide Newcastle with a unique opportunity to showcase its impressive scientific and technological credentials to the world.

An exciting programme is lined up for families, adults, professionals and school groups, packed with entertaining and engaging shows and events featuring artists, musicians, comedians and Newcastle University’s science buskers.

The Street Scientists – who have become a familiar sight around the city centre and at events around the North East with their demonstrations of scientific phenomena through street performance –also handed out instruction sheets today to show people how to make their own instruments. They’ll then urge them to return to Monument at 5.45pm on September 12 with their instruments to blend together science and sound by saying goodbye to the Festival with a mass rendition of Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys.

Newcastle University Street Scientist Ian Reeds said: “Today we are warming up to what we hope will be a world-class celebration to mark a world-class event in the city. We want as many people as possible to come along to join our flashmob orchestra – to create their own instrument whilst learning about the science of sound.”

The British Science Festival will kick-off with an entire weekend dedicated to educating and entertaining families including everything from a real night in the museum and science superheroes to freaky food of the future and walking on custard. Newcastle University and Northumbria University will throw open the doors to give visitors a behind-the-scenes look at some of the science they are working on. There will be lots to learn about – everything from bacteria and poisons to electronics and ageing, and even why our fingers go wrinkly in the bath!

Debates and lectures will feature eminent scientists, including stars of the small screen, those at the forefront of today’s technology and scientists searching for solutions to tomorrow’s challenges. Famous faces include scientist and television presenter Michael Mosley who is credited with popularizing the 5:2 fasting diet and who will discuss the connection between food and ageing with Newcastle University’s Dean for Ageing, Professor Tom Kirkwood. Among other big name events are fertility expert Lord Robert Winston’s talk about his latest interests in science, space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock’s reveal of the latest in space exploration and DJ Simon Mayo’s introduction of his children’s science fiction novel Itch along with some live experiments with the elements.

The sci-curious can join the Festival after dark for a varied programme including the Electromagnetic Pulse Party - a club night with a scientific twist – and the film all-nighter in which participants are invited not only to be part of the audience, but also part of the experiment.

Many Festival events will be drop-in activities however booking will be required for some sessions. Tickets can now be ordered here or by calling 08456 807 207. For information about Newcastle University’s Street Scientists and the flashmob orchestra visit here

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