thumbnail Launch of Ideas Take Flight campaign for British Science Festival 2013

Could the Angel of the North actually fly? How do birds take off? How high can a butterfly fly and how many times does a bumblebee have to beat its wings every second to stay off the ground

These were among the tricky questions posed to scientists when Newcastle University took to the road to recruit the help of schoolchildren in their preparations for The British Science Festival coming to the city in September 2013.

In the build up to the prestigious event, which is to be hosted by Newcastle University with Northumbria University and Newcastle City Council as associate partners, a community campaign has been launched entitled Ideas Take Flight. This will give residents of all ages the chance to help shape the content of the six day festival and find out more about what’s in store for visitors.

The campaign’s first stop was Southridge First School in Whitley Bay where two classes of 30 eight-year-olds had the chance to get answers to their thought-provoking questions about flight. 

Newcastle University lecturer Professor Robin Johnson brought along a scale model of the Angel of the North he had created to explain the principles of flight and to explore whether the real Antony Gormley sculpture could fly if it had the means to takeoff. While local artist Yvette Hawkins held workshops teaching origami and kirigami, a form of origami which includes cutting, to create paper versions of the Angel of North, birds, butterflies and other flying things.

Year three pupil Francesca Lesley Burridge said: “We’ve learned all kinds of things about flight and what creatures, such as tiny midges, need to do to be able to fly. It’s been really interesting.”
Teacher Marlynn Rosario said: “The workshops have been absolutely brilliant and have really inspired the children about the subject of flight. They soaked up lots of facts, had a chance to have their questions answered and put their listening skills to the test. 

“The session has certainly whetted their appetite for the British Science Festival too and I’m sure many of the children will be encouraging their families to get involved when the time comes.”

A selection of the children’s work is being showcased on the Ideas Take Flight campaign’s website as well as a step-by-step video demonstrating how to make each of the origami designs. 

Residents are now being invited to follow the video instructions to make their own origami and post photos of their finished artworks at locations around the North East on Twitter using the hashtag #ideastakeflight. 

Newcastle University Deputy Vice Chancellor Ella Ritchie said: “It’s a real coup for Newcastle University to be hosting Europe’s largest and longest-running science event and it’s testament to our world-class scientific strength that this will be the seventh visit of the festival to the city.

“We are really excited about getting the people of the North East involved with the festival – getting their input on what science themes they’d like exploring, what experiments they would like to have a go at and what questions they have for the celebrated scientists that will be taking part.

“As preparations get under way for the festival the Ideas Take Flight campaign will provide lots of opportunities for people to suggest their ideas and get involved.”

Lucy Winskell, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Region Engagement and Partnerships, said: “Northumbria University is a research-rich, outward looking organisation so we are excited to be associate partners in next year’s British Science Festival. The event is highly significant for the region and is a key opportunity for our brightest scientists to showcase and celebrate the impact that their research has on people’s lives.

“The Ideas Take Flight campaign will enable local people to really get involved, share their ideas and help to influence the content of the festival.”

The British Science Festival has been running since 1831 and is organised each year by The British Science Association – bringing together hundreds of the UK’s top scientists, journalists and tens of thousands of members of the public. The festival programme caters for audiences of all ages and all levels of scientific understanding; from professional scientists to families on a day out. 

The Festival’s nationwide ‘Call for Proposals launches on July 4, 2012. Any organisation or individual is welcome to consider organising an event to be part of the British Science Festival. 


published on: 5th July 2012

Key Facts:

  • Newcastle University is a Russell Group University
  • Ranked in the top 1% of universities in the world (QS World University Rankings 2014)
  • Ranked 16th in the UK for global research power (REF 2014)
  • Ranked 10th overall in the UK and 3rd for quality of staff/lecturers in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2015
  • Winner: Outstanding Leadership and Management Team and Outstanding Procurement Team, Times Higher Leadership and Management Awards 2015
  • Amongst our peers Newcastle is:
    • Joint 6th in the UK for student satisfaction
    • Ranked 1st in the UK for Computing Science research impact, 3rd in the UK for Civil Engineering research power and 11th in the UK for Mathematical Sciences research (REF 2014)
    • Ranked 8th in the UK for Medical and Life Sciences research quality (REF 2014)
    • Ranked 3rd in the UK for English, and in the top 12 for Geography, Architecture and Planning, and Cultural and Media Studies research quality (REF 2014)
    • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) top 20 strategic partner
  • 94% of our students are in a job or further training within six months of graduating
  • We have a world-class reputation for research excellence and are spearheading three major societal challenges that have a significant impact on global society. These themes are: Ageing, Sustainability, and Social Renewal
  • Newcastle University is the first UK university to establish a fully owned international branch campus for medicine at its NUMed Campus in Malaysia which opened in 2011
  • 90% Satisfaction level from our international students (ISB 2014)
  • Newcastle University Business School is one of 20 Triple Accredited Business Schools in the UK