After volunteering to help set up stands for the festival, I couldn’t not go to investigate.
Usually, I’m not particularly interested in events like festivals;in the same way that science centres tend to appeal only to an audience who would already be interested enough in the subject to visit science centres, festivals seem like a method of science communication that’s probably only preaching to the converted.
Though to be fair to the FoN, a solo adult is not their target audience; it’s aimed at families and children. I did see loads of families having fun, and kids trying out the experiments there, so for that audience it seemed to be doing well. However, the strength of how much the experience will matter probably depends on the presenters and staff, rather than focusing on the exhibits. For example, there was a simple chromatography demonstration which wasn’t very engaging to watch for me, but then I saw a child ask the stallholders a question about the demonstration, which turned into a 20 minute long conversation because she got a useful and involving answer. Like most science events, it’s the connection rather than the spectacle which will ultimately influence people.
While I was there, I met some of the people on my uni course; found the paper bear that I helped transport through the city centre (which was actually the canvas for a clever type of projection mapping – see the creator’s blog here). I also spotted our uni project – The Science of the Lambs – on the Big Screen. (I don’t think anyone except for me was actually paying attention to it, but it was nice all the same).
Another reason I went up to the Festival of Nature was to get back in contact with the British Science Association, as I keep intending to set up volunteering with them but also keep missing the chances to go to their meetings.Happily, I found them and may have set up something cool- I’m heading to their next meeting on Wednesday where I should find out more.