Science Festival first to go online

Edinburgh Science Festival was the first of our festivals to cancel and the first to move into the world of online events with Elements of #EdSciFest. Sticking with the original theme of ‘Elementary’, the new digital mini-Festival explored science’s role in addressing the biggest global environmental challenges through five strands – Air, Earth, Fire, Water and Aether, representing the digital world.

Each element provided a different way of looking at some of the challenges and opportunities facing humanity in a complex world. The All Fired Up strand focused on how we tackle the climate crisis with the urgency it requires. One Earth explored the circular and sharing economies, tackled our extinction crisis and looked at ways we can feed the world on a global scale. The Air We Breathe looked in to air pollution and fuel alternatives that will help bring clean air to as many people as possible. Water for Life dived into our relationship with rivers and oceans and the protection they need from exploitation. Finally, Aether Go Digital looked at the power we hold at our fingertips, the potential solutions that technology holds to our problems and the issues that might arise from it. These strands consisted of over 200 free online entertainment, curated articles, downloadable resources and much more covering all the Science Festival favourites throughout the month of April.

Live streamed content included talks from broadcaster Claudia Hammond on the importance of rest in our fast-moving world, science writer Marcus Chown explored the vast complexities of the Universe and Professor Ilan Kelman looked at how the majority of 'natural disasters' are created or exacerbated by human choices. Elsewhere, The University of Edinburgh prepared a range of videos exploring issues around climate change and Digital World (Skills Development Scotland) shared a range of digital workshops and online learning with fun tasks challenging audiences to Defend the Hospital and Steal a Pizza. Instead of the Dinosaur Weekend that was planned for children at the Pleasance, the Festival designed a series of dinosaur crafts that kids could download and make at home. Plus, two events that were planned for the Festival’s flagship family venue, the City Art Centre, took place in digital form as part of an Edinburgh Science takeover of the popular Earth Live Lessons YouTube series. 

Most of these events took place during the festival period over Easter time, but a number of items have been retained and given a new online life, including:

  • Pale Blue Dot – complementing an outdoor photography exhibition Into the Blue (set up in Portobello just before lockdown), this is an online exploration of everything marine that allowed audiences to delve deep into our seas and oceans. Taking you through every layer of the ocean this story explored what the oceans mean to us and how we can protect one of the most precious habitats on Earth.
  • Activities for Children – a whole host of fantastic activities and downloadable resources for children as part of Elements of #EdSciFest. Check out the link for some hands-on science fun, with with some of the highlights being:
  • Prehistoric Beasts and how to know them - Zoology correspondent and writer Jules Holland has put together some awesome digital dino content that you can try at home. (Ages 5+).
  • Change your carbon footprint, kids edition – Everyone can do their bit, and the Festival team have got some great ideas to get young eco warriors started on a mission to help save the planet.
  • Destination Space, Mars Rover - Launching in 2022, the Rosalind Franklin rover will head to Mars in search of signs of life and you can learn more about the mission and its namesake and create your own LEGO® Mars rover.

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