British Science Festival 2013 - What a Week it Was!

British Science Festival launch Street Scientists Teddy bear surgery Professor Robert Winston Debates Street performers create a festival feel Tyneside Cinema Sci-Fi night Great North Museum: Hancock Debates and lectures Lunchtime science show at Northern Stage Science Fest comic event Maths puzzles on campus

Tens of thousands of people helped make the British Science Festival 2013 an event to remember when they welcomed it to Newcastle from 7th-12th September. See more photos on flickr.

The Festival, one of Europe's largest and longest-running public science events, was hosted by Newcastle University with an exciting programme for families, adults, professionals and school groups being held on campus.

A wide range of organisations and venues also came together to create a city-wide celebration and showcase of the region's world-class science, engineering and technology credentials.

The six-day Festival was packed with 250 events including entertaining and engaging shows featuring artists, musicians, comedians and our very own street science buskers.

For a taster of what the festival was all about and what it meant to the University and the city check out our short film!

Video: Talks and Debates


Here are a few highlights of the week…


The event kicked-off with an entire weekend dedicated to educating and entertaining families. From a science sleepover in a museum and comic book superheroes to freaky food of the future and walking on custard, there was something to capture the imagination and interest of all. Events took place across the city at venues including:

  • Centre for Life
  • Great North Museum: Hancock
  • City Library
  • Discovery Museum

Newcastle University threw open the doors to give visitors a behind-the-scenes look at some of the science we are working on. Culture Lab became home to a whole host of hands-on activities to inspire young minds. Families had the chance to explore and enjoy the campus in the autumn sunshine with live music, logic puzzles and performers bringing the Festival feel outdoors too.

Debates and Lectures

Debates and lectures featured eminent scientists, including stars of the small screen, those at the forefront of today's technology and scientists searching for solutions to tomorrow's challenges.

Familiar faces taking to the stage alongside our own homegrown talent included Lord Robert Winston, Dr Michael Mosley and Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

Cutting-edge research from the University was showcased by those making advances in areas ranging from ageing and sustainability, to new and groundbreaking genetic techniques.

Professor Sugata Mitra, who inspired the film Slumdog Millionaire, shared his vision for delivering education to children in India's slums via his 'School in the Cloud' project. Professor Tom Kirwood CBE joined two panels of experts to discuss the universal challenge of an ageing population.

Newcastle University researchers were selected to present two of the five prestigious Award Lectures in recognition of their skills in presenting their work to a general audience. These special lectures are a highlight of the programme and are awarded to rising stars of the world of science – Professor Brian Cox and Professor Richard Wiseman both gave Award Lectures at the start of their careers.

Dr Michael Sweet delivered the Charles Darwin Award Lecture and Professor Hayley Fowler presented the Joseph Lister Award Lecture.

School groups

Thousands of students aged eight to 18 experienced a taste of University life when they took part in the biggest ever Young People's Programme run as part of the British Science Festival.

School groups from across the region visited the campus throughout the Festival to enjoy the best the UK has to offer in science shows and workshops.


A programme of after dark events, strictly for the grown-ups, included the SciScreen all-night film show at the Tyneside Cinema. During an entire night dedicated to films themed around science with talks and experimentation with researchers from Newcastle University, Festival-goers were invited not just to be part of the audience, but also part of the experiment.


From its beginnings in 1831, the British Science Festival has brought together scientists from different disciplines to explore the breakthroughs their colleagues have been making, and demonstrate how research can make a real impact on diverse areas of science, business, innovation and professional endeavour. This year was no different with events ranging from Newcastle Science City's debate on the role of science in the growth of a future city to Newcastle University's focus on 21st century transport.


Leading science journalists from across the world descended on the University during the Festival and attended a series of press conferences to unveil cutting-edge findings from research establishments across the country, including our own.

Resulting media coverage drew global attention to Newcastle, a UK City of Science, to the University and to the region's scientific strengths.

The British Science Festival is an annual celebration of science, engineering and technology which visits a different UK city each year. The Festival is organised by the British Science Association and in 2013 was hosted by Newcastle University with Northumbria University and Newcastle City Council as associate partners and AkzoNobel, Northumbrian Water, GE Oil & Gas and Saudi Aramco as major sponsors.

More information on the British Science Festival