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Bradford Science Festival 2023

Hattie reflects on a successful Bradford Science Festival, which this year had the theme of Vision: Seeing the Hidden World.

Bradford Science Festival 2023 came to a close on Tuesday 22 August with our fourth and final Community Day.

This year’s theme was Vision: Seeing the Hidden World. Scientists, community leaders, educators and artists joined the festival to explore everything from tiny plant cells to invisible internet cables, from the depths of space to the impact of climate change.

Back in May, we invited primary schools from BD3 and BD5 to the National Science and Media Museum for our schools’ strand of the festival; pupils had the opportunity to try pinhole photography and have their creations exhibited later the festival.

Bradford Science Festival Family Weekend took place on 3 and 4 June, just days before the museum closed to the public for major refurbishment. The family weekend filled five floors of the museum with free, family-friendly activities and shows. A highlight was the enormous pair of walkabout puppets from ‘Global Grooves’, wandering across the city of Bradford and dancing in the museum’s foyer. Visitors also had the opportunity to dance on the moon using the museum’s headline commission, ‘Giant Leaps’ by Corey Baker Dance.

Finally, during August, Bradford Science Festival popped up in BD3 and BD5 for four community days. With the museum being temporarily closed, these festival days are taking place alongside a wider programme of community-based activities at libraries, museums, and community centres in Bradford.

The first two festival days were at WomenZone (BD3) and SHINE West Bowling (BD5) and brought together families from local areas as well as regular community centre visitors. Headliners included two Liberty Arts shows about African American ophthalmologist Patricia Bath and British South Asian astronomer Sheila Kanani, Belle Vue Studios photo booth by Bradford Museum and Galleries, and much more!

The second pair of festival days were at MAPA Cultural Arts Centre (BD5) and Laisterdyke Hub (BD3)—both of which featured outdoor performances of ‘Birdie’ by local theatre company Mind the Gap, all about the impact of climate change. A large scale replica of the Orion spacecraft was brought to every venue, accompanied by an exciting talk about space exploration.

And let’s not forget the incredible contributions of our Youth Forum. These talented young individuals delivered two engaging activities at MAPA and Laisterdyke, which they developed after undergoing our museum academy training, participating in several idea generating sessions, and dedicating extensive planning efforts. Their creativity and dedication added an extra layer of excitement and innovation to Bradford Science Festival 2023.

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