Northern Ireland Science Festival

Now in its third year, the Northern Ireland Science Festival has announced its biggest programme yet with over 150 events set to take place across the region in venues such as the W5, Titanic Belfast, the Armagh Planetarium, the Black Box, the Nerve Centre and the Ulster Museum. The 11 day extravaganza of science, technology, engineering and mathematics runs from 16 to 26 February with a host of brilliant guest speakers set to attend, including; historian Bettany Hughes, academic and broadcaster Dr Alice Roberts, physicists Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Jim Al-Khalili, maths communicator Marcus du Sautoy and Britain’s first astronaut Helen Sharman.

There’s fun guaranteed for the whole family, with a range of daytime workshops, talks and interactive activities for children and parents. Kids can make their own Marvellous Medicine, crack the code of ‘The Genetics of Superheroes’ or be part of a ‘Teen Hackathon’ where the most innovative projects will receive spot prizes and a share of £1,000. There’s even something for infants – a baby sensory space adventure. Festival favourites like the ‘Zombie Science’, ‘Late Lab’, ‘Lotions, Potions and Explosions’, ‘Ugly Animals’ and the ‘toxicology of intoxication’ also return by popular demand. In the evening, adults can enjoy a range of events, including scientific debates, talks, theatre, comedy, music and film.

This includes a lecture in honour of Alan Turing, the man who cracked the Enigma code and who is credited with ‘inventing the computer’. Dr Guruduth S. Banavar, VP & Chief Science Officer, Cognitive Computing, IBM Research will talk about cognitive computing, the technology breakthroughs and how deployment of the technology can benefit all of humankind.

The Festival is also a tasty postscript to Northern Ireland’s Year of Food. Themed around the science behind Northern Ireland’s world class food and drink, festival attendees have the chance to taste the world’s first beer brewed by artificial intelligence (AI), taste the world’s first flax-fed Wagyu beef at the Bullitt Hotel and discover the science behind making the perfect Irish whiskey.

For the first time, the festival will appear in towns and cities across Northern Ireland with a packed programme of over 45 events planned for the Maiden City and fun-filled road shows planned for Enniskillen, Newry, Coleraine and Dungannon.

This fledgling festival has been a huge success so far, with visitor numbers growing from 50,000 in its first year to over 65,000 people last year. With an expanded programme this year, visitor numbers look set to grow again and it’s great to see such a wide range of events that the whole family can enjoy. It’s the perfect place to bring curious children, allowing them to explore the wonders of science and gain a little education while having a whole lot of fun. Us grown-ups might even learn something too!


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