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Science festival goes completely digital

By David Porter

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TechFest, the north-east's annual festival of STEM, will take on a whole new look this year, when it goes completely digital for the first time in its 27-year history.

The launch event on November 5, which will feature a live dive show streamed from Macduff Aquarium, will mark the start of the biggest and most ambitious digital science festival in Scotland this year.

With an exciting and eclectic mix of more than 30 events taking place over a three-week period, the festival will have two main strands - the traditional public programme and a programme for schools.

Doug Allan at the Emperor Penguin Colony
Doug Allan at the Emperor Penguin Colony

Supported by joint principal sponsors bp and Shell and also sponsored by Equinor, Ithica Energy, SBRC, The Data Lab and supported by RockRose Energy, the celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) usually runs for three weeks in September, with events taking place in venues across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

This year, rather than cancel the festival due to current events, organisers not only decided to go ahead with a 2020 event but to make it wider ranging than ever before.

The mix will include both live and pre-recoded events delivered via Zoom, Facebook, LinkedIn and through interactive activities.

Live events in the public programme of afternoon, evening and weekend sessions include talks on deep sea genetics and marine plastic pollution, human evolution according to brain size, sleep management and the development of good sleep habits.

There is even a session on STEM links to the care and training of the competition horse.

The schools programme will bring science-based activities directly into the classroom with a variety of activities, video conferences, talks, and virtual events with partners including Edinburgh Zoo, the RAF and the Red Cross in collaboration with Skills Development Scotland TechFest’s new programme collaborator.

The highly popular family days will also return in 2020 in digital format. Jam packed with fun and STEM-inspired activities which the whole family can enjoy.

“Having to look at a different way of delivering the festival this year, really opened our eyes to the possibilities, not just this year but in the future,” said TechFest’s managing director Sarah Chew.

“Translating a three-week live event into a digital format has been a considerable undertaking but we’re very excited about what has been achieved and how it has shaped up.

“We’ve been able to include speakers and events from across the country and visitors to the festival are not confined by distance so by adopting the digital format we’ve extended the reach of our audience.

“It’s also giving us the scope to create a bank of online resources which people can access long after the festival has ended.

"We are already looking at how we can incorporate and expand the digital element of the TechFest festival in the future.

"This has shown there are no boundaries and there’s no reason why we can’t bring in international speakers and a global audience in future.

“We are incredibly grateful to our joint principal sponsors bp and Shell and all other sponsors and supporters for making it possible at this time and to all the presenters who met the challenge with enthusiasm when we proposed this programme”

The Macduff Aquarium launch event begins at 2pm on November 5.

Admission to all events is free.

Details of all other events and how to book, are on the TechFest website: https://www.techfestsetpoint.org.uk/

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