Return of the Hebridean Science Festival

The Hebridean Science Festival committee look forward to next week's three-day scientific extravaganza.
The Hebridean Science Festival committee look forward to next week's three-day scientific extravaganza.

AFTER a very successful inaugural festival last year, the second Hebridean Science Festival returns next week and aims to be even bigger and better.

Taking place from March 17 to 19, the festival will see workshops and talks run by groups and individuals from all over the country, with events for both adults and children.

Looking at the main theme of renewable energy, although with activities covering a wide range of subjects, the second festival kicks off on Thursday morning with a series of events in different schools across Lewis and Harris and from Ness to Barra.

Events include hands-on K’Nex challenges, as well as talks from distinguished speakers such as former Energy Minister and MP Brian Wilson; the Astronomer Royal for Scotland; energy company AMEX, and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

The University of St Andrews project – Seeing Life in a New Light – will be performing shows in the Nicolson Institute; and SCI-FUN, the Scottish Science and Technology Roadshow, will also be at the secondary school for the duration of the festival running sessions for S1 and 2 pupils, involving hands-on activities such as the spinning chair, body imaging, virtual pigs and forensics.

SCI-FUN will also be holding free entry public sessions from 4.30-6pm on Thursday 17 and from 11am-4pm on Saturday 19.

On Thursday evening a festival reception will be held in An Plantain for local dignitaries, educators and those involved in the festival, organised by ESTEEM, a voluntary group with the aim of inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians from the Western Isles.

The reception will be followed by talks from the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Professor John C Brown, who performs hi public talks and magic shows throughout the UK; and science communicator, Johnny Ball, frequently in the public eye over his views on climate change and is most famous for his TV shows including ‘Think of a Number’ and ‘Think Again’. Johnny’s enthusiasm for maths, science and technology makes him a regular at science festivals and events throughout the country, where he performs to audiences of all ages.

The event begins at 7.30pm, and will be introduced by former Energy Minister and MP Brian Wilson. Tickets cost £5 for adults and £3 for concessions, with one ticket giving admittance to both talks.

On festival Friday, events will take place at the Bridge Centre in Stornoway, with visiting schools taking part in a wide range of activities. The highlight of the day for younger children promises to be the shows performed by Mr Boom, who will land the spaceship ‘Imagination’ at the Bridge Centre and entertain with songs about science.

Johnny Ball will also be giving a talk, and Cathy Southworth, from the University of Edinburgh, will be delivering workshops on genetics.

There will also be displays from a number of organisations, including Lewis Wind Power, AMEC, Aquamarine, Pelamis, SEPA, UHI and Lews Castle College.

Pupils from local eco-schools, Tong School for example, will be showing some of the work they are carrying out, and K’Nex challenges will be running all afternoon.

The evening again brings a series of public talks at the Centre, focusing on renewable energy, and featuring David Collier from Atlantis Resources, who will speak on the development of marine energy in the Pentland Firth. This talk is sponsored by the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET); and there will also be talks from researchers at Lews Castle College.

Again, entry is £5 for adults, £3 for concessions, and £10 for a family ticket (two adults and up to four children).

The final day of the festival – Saturday 19 – is a Family Fun Day, taking place at the Bridge Centre from 10am-4pm with activities from all ages, from pre-school to adult.

Mr Boom will be landing his spaceship at the Centre from 10-11am, and Stornoway Astronomical Society will be running planetarium shows in the afternoon.

K’Nex activities will run all day, as well as hands-on activities run by UHI, the University of Edinburgh and Lews Castle College. Entry prices are the same as above.

And SCI-FUN will also be running a free drop-in session in the Nicolson Institute from 11am to 4pm.

The festival will come to a close on Saturday evening with a Family Ceilidh in the Bridge Centre, starting at 7.30pm. The Ness Melodeon Band will perform and bar and refreshments will be available. Entry again is £5 for adults, £3 for concession and £10 for a family ticket (two adults and up to four children).

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