Having spent hours pouring over the programme, circling events and exhibitions that they’d like to see and workshops that they’d like to attend, the Edinburgh International Science Festival had the high expectations of our kids to meet. Arriving at the City Arts Centre (CAC) on the opening day, and as first timers to the festival, we were still a bit unsure of what to expect. We wondered would there be enough for the girls to do? Would the science itself be lost on them? We needn’t have worried. We spent the whole day immersed in a colourful, hands on and educational world of science.
Engaging for All Ages
For our four year old, Emma, the highlights at CAC were the interactive story of ‘Timmy the Turbine’ and the gentle, fun introduction to wind power that this provided – topped off with a chance to make wind chimes from cup cake cases and small bells! She also loved the under 5s activity trail, where cheery staff helped her make spinning wheels where the colours blurred into one and the gold-fish ended up in its bowl. The chance to play with various glow in the dark toys (handy tents provided added darkness) was another big hit, and her big sister couldn’t resist the urge to join in.
Tara (who is seven) meanwhile loved the chance to go on a Jungle Safari, an energetic journey through the human digestive system (Engergise) and the drop in sessions that let her develop her own photograph, knock pretend brains off coconuts and craft to her heart’s content as she made starfish and a phosphorescent sea pen, as well as a bright yellow coral polyp and squat lobsters to put on the imitation coral reef.
Sharing Childhood Experiences
With the bar set high we headed, the next day, to the National Museum of Scotland armed with tickets for the Game Masters exhibition and a family friendly talk about our place in the universe (Lost in Space). At the Game Masters our three hour slot (you can come and go as you please during that time) gave us plenty of time to check out video games that spanned the decades from early classics like Pac Man and Space Invaders through to motion sensor games that let us karate chop food and bust some moves on the dance floor. The imagery in the Lost in Space workshop meanwhile was breathtaking and an informative talk lead us through an immense universe brimming with billions of stars. This was followed up with the opportunity to touch real meteorites and to learn more about the universe through the latest technology.
The Science of our Food
Later that afternoon we guiltily headed for SciMart (a scientific farmers market) at Summerhall, thinking this was one for the grown-ups and not the kids. Our girls, however, loved it. They loved the chance to try wonderful produce that ranged from smoked salmon and sour-dough bread to herb infused olive oils through to soups that contained dozens of amino acids and salted caramel brownies. Then, of course, there was the chance to conduct some science experiments of their own in the outdoor sandpit and to taste foods with unusual tastes and textures in the children’s ‘restaurant’ workshop – where the popping candy was the fizzy highlight.
Leaving the festival (for the time being) armed with a new Space book and some new knowledge, Tara joyfully proclaimed that we needed to bring her cousins back to the Science Festival next weekend. That confirmed that we needn’t have worried that there would be enough for the girls to do!
For more information on the Edinburgh International Science Festival see www.sciencefestival.co.uk. The booking hotline is 0844-5572686.
For details on Edinburgh’s range of festivals see www.edinburghfestivalcity.com.
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