Between 10th – 15th September 2011, Europe’s largest celebration of Science, Technology and Engineering, The British Science Festival came to Bradford, the first time in over 100 years.
Hosted by Bradford College, University of Bradford, Bradford Council, the National Media Museum, Space Connections and others, the festival saw thousands of school groups, families, adults and professionals taking part in a huge variety of fascinating workshops, shows and entertaining challenges throughout the week. Highlights of the week included Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Lord Robert Winston, Ellen Macarthur and BBC’s Bang goes the Theory.
Bradford College hosted the Young People’s Programme which saw around 5000 visitors from schools across the region taking part in such workshops as Animal Encounters, From the Chew to the Poo, Colourful, Colourful Chemistry and Hollywood Science.
Further highlights of key events at Bradford College included a visit from The BLOODHOUND SSC (Super Sonic Car) Project. This is Britain’s latest attempt to smash the current World Land Speed Record set by Richard Noble in 1997 of 763.035mph with a car capable of 1000mph. Experts from the BLOODHOUND Project, which is supported by Protocol National, showcased a full-scale car, over 13 metres long, and a Bloodhound Driving Experience – a simulator which demonstrates what it’s like to attempt a 1000mph land speed record. The Bloodhound Project, alongside trying to beat the World Land Speed record, has been established to raise awareness, engaging learners and inspiring the next generation’s interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The Bloodhound SSC will be attempting to break the current record in summer 2013 in the Hakskeen Pan Desert in South Africa.
Running throughout the week The Bradford Gallery held a fantastic exhibition showcasing Bradford College’s Scientific Heroes and Women of Outstanding Achievement in Science, Engineering and Technology. On display were great scientific profiles such as Sir Edward Appleton, who studied at Bradford Technical College from 1909 to 1911 who went on to discover of the Ionosphere – an electrically strong atmosphere 150 miles above ground. Appleton went on to receive a number of honours including a knighthood in 1941 and the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1947. Friederich Willheim Eurich conducted pioneering research into the causes of Anthrax, based at Bradford Technical College from 1900 to 1905 and Elsie Wright, creator of the infamous Cottingley Fairies hoax, attended Bradford Art College from 1914. The Women of Outstanding Achievement in Science, Engineering and Technology celebrated 7 women from the private and public sectors, academia and entrepreneurs with portraits of the women taken by Robert Taylor; one of which is housed in the National Portrait Gallery.
Bradford College Performing Arts students staged ‘High on a Sphere – Edward Appleton: A Life in Science’ at the Theatre in the Mill in Bradford. This dynamic and engaging play vividly brought to life Appleton’s early life as a working class prodigy in Bradford, through his meteoric academic career, to his later achievement in radio technology and discovery of The Appleton Layer or Ionosphere. Bradford College Performing Arts lecturer and Project leader Damien O’Keefe comments, "Although widely respected by his peers in the world of Physics, Edward Appleton remains unknown to the general populace and yet, without his pioneering work into wireless and radio waves, the modern communications revolution may never have taken place. Appleton's story is an inspirational one, especially for the young people of Bradford; he was a lad from Mapperton Street who was given the opportunity to realise his potential. He represents the value of an education system that is made available to all, irrespective of an ability to pay for it.”
“The talented young cast who worked on this production have gained valuable professional experience through taking part in the British Science Festival. They have also learned about something they may not have come across, and have enjoyed the links between the arts and science."
After the British Science Festival, High on a Sphere will continue to tour West Yorkshire schools throughout autumn and winter 2011.