Weird science at the Edinburgh Science Festival

The Blood Bar at last year's Edinburgh International Science Festival. Picture: Contributed
The Blood Bar at last year's Edinburgh International Science Festival. Picture: Contributed
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Curious young minds are in for a special treat at this fortnight-long festival of discovery.

I keep reading about how more schoolchildren should be studying science. There’s obviously a PR problem here as chemistry and physics are seen as the more geeky subjects, although perhaps Prof Brian Cox might turn this notion on its head. But I wonder why there isn’t a Briony Cox – come on girls! In Edinburgh the annual Science Festival does its best to make these subjects fun – even yours truly who hardly knows one end of a Bunsen burner from the other can get something out of the events they hold aimed specifically at the younger end of the population.

This year, being the 25th time it has been staged, is no different. The City Art Centre is packed with the sort of entertainment that will appeal to anyone with an inquisitive mind, which is basically most children. Those with a taste for the macabre will love being able to unwrap a mummy or make their own scabs at the Blood Bar. Others with a more ecological leaning can head to the new Polyfloss Factory recycling plant. Here they will sort out waste plastic, melt it down and make it into something to take home. Budding detectives will find their way to the Crime Scene Investigation unit to learn how to decipher clues at a crime scene. With the building packed with children there should be plenty of sticky fingerprints to examine.

Over at the National Museum of Scotland there will be workshops and a programme of events presented by the University of Edinburgh. When you are there remember to look out for the amazing balloon sculpture created by experimental artist Jason Hackenworth, commissioned especially for the festival. To be honest it will hard to miss it, as it will be as high as three floors of the building. If you fancy watching it being made then get along to the museum between 23 March and before its official unveiling the following Friday.

For a chance to discover a bit more of the capital city, sign up for the City Sci-Quest which promises to unveil some hidden scientific treasures and secret spaces. All you need is to download an app, gather some friends together and make sure the grey cells are on top form.

A more sedate time can be had at the exhibitions during the festival. In St Andrew Square you can be astounded and amazed at the beauty and complexity of natural design in “Patterns in Nature”; at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh experience Derek Roberts’ Northern Paintings and at the National Library of Scotland there is an exhibition of the achievements of Scottish female scientists.

One of the hits of last year’s festival (35,000 visitors can’t be wrong) was the government Expo funded InMotion exhibition which will run at Ocean Terminal. And it’s free which might explain why it was so popular.

To round off the festival fun there is the first ever Mini Makers Faire at Summerhall, which is an opportunity to see creations from craft folk from all over Scotland. This we are told will be a celebration of the arts of tinkering, fabrication and invention. And if that doesn’t get children thinking that there is more to science than dissecting a frog then I’m a banana. Mind you, according to DNA research I’m already about 60 per cent there.

• Edinburgh International Science Festival runs from 23 March-7 April. Details of all events can be found at www.sciencefestival.co.uk or call the box office for ticketed events on 0844 557 2686.