This year’s Bradford Science Festival looked a little different to usual. With its original date in July postponed due to Covid-19, the team at the National Science and Media Museum and the festival partners were determined to produce an event during October half term (24 October – 1 November 2020) in line with the latest guidelines.
In previous years, the festival has seen up to 40,000 visitors gather to take part in STEM learning activities in venues across the city, including in City Park. Under government guidelines an event of that scale was not possible for 2020, meaning the museum and its festival partners experimented with new ways of delivering inspiring science content through a variety of strands, including live in-museum performances, online shows, printed activity packs, and on the radio.
Throughout October half term the museum welcomed almost 4,000 visitors, with many visitors attending the festivals sell out live shows. Live highlights of the festival included 50 Million Tonnes, a brand-new Scavenger Labs science show, raising awareness of the environmental and human consequences caused by the millions of tonnes of waste from disposable electronic consumer items produced every day. Festivalgoers could also see the Virtually Live Science Showdown with science presenter Phil Bell-Young and friends. Both shows proved a great success, with all free tickets selling out and lots of positive feedback from attendees.
The festival also had a strong online presence this year, hosting 120 online activities created in partnership with more than 25 organisations, including the festival’s Lead Partner PPG and sponsors Bradford BID and The Broadway. Other key contributors included the Royal Academy of Engineering, Yorkshire Water, the University of Bradford, Aire Rivers Trust, 50 Things To Do Before You’re 5, and Born in Bradford. These activities are still available on the Bradford Science Festival webpages.
Throughout half term the museum and its partners premiered shows on YouTube, as well as a series of exclusive radio shows on BCB Radio, covering topics such as the Fridays for Future movement and climate strikes, how to make Bradford a more sustainable city, diversity in science careers, and an exploration of women in STEM, with interviews and discussions with women leading in these industries. There were also two sellout online Zoom workshops for families where they could explore weird and wonderful sounds and learn to make their own creations. In total the museum received 85,000 pageviews across its website during the half term.
For those people with little or no digital access throughout half term, the museum and its partners also wanted to ensure that everyone had a chance to get involved. As part of the festival, 20,000 printed packs were distributed to communities in Bradford via schools, food banks, community centres and in the museum. The packs included fun at-home STEM learning activities that families could try out during half term.
This year’s festival Lead Partner, PPG, also set up a stand in the museum throughout the week, engaging visitors in their innovative work and careers in STEM industries.
Commenting on the festival, Elaine Richmond, Partnership and Participation Manager, said:
“Although the format of this year’s festival looked very different to usual, we are delighted with how everything has turned out and it has been exciting to try new ways of delivering festival content and engaging local communities in STEM learning. We are especially grateful to our partners for their help in bringing the festival to life online, in print and on the radio this year. We have seen some really inspiring shows delivered in new ways, and we look forward to trying out more content like this in the future. The great thing is our online content will be available to access until the end of January 2021, so if you missed out there is still time to get involved and learn more about these fascinating topics.”
In line with the current coronavirus measures for England, the National Science and Media Museum is temporarily closed to the public between Thursday 5 November and Thursday 3 December 2020. The museum will communicate any change to the date when it can reopen. Although the museum doors are temporarily closed, there is still a huge variety of exciting online exhibitions, blog posts, videos and more to explore, as well as the Science Museum Group’s fantastic collection online.
For further information, images or interview requests, please contact: Katie Canning, National Science and Media Museum: firstname.lastname@example.org / 01274 203 027
The National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire, opened in 1983, and has since become one of the most visited UK museums outside London. The museum explores the science and culture of image and sound technologies, creating special exhibitions, interactive galleries and activities for families and adults. It is home to three cinemas, including Europe’s first IMAX cinema screen and the world’s only public Cinerama screen outside the USA. Entry to the museum is free.
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