Make the most of what’s left of the school holidays and the long summer evenings, with our 10 not to be missed science events and exhibitions. Whether you’re into exploring space or life under the sea, creating new tech or patching up the human body, there’s something to suit all tastes. Find out what’s going on near you…
The Holiday Makers
Did you know there are 270 day-time hours to fill over the summer holidays? That’s according to the Year of Engineering – a government initiative to celebrate all things engineering. They’ve created the Holiday Makers, an online hub, to help you spend that time getting creative, exploring engineering and learning about modern inventions. Visit the site to discover weekly hands-on challenges (with the chance to win some cool prizes from organisations like the Science Museum), find engineering-inspired events going on near you and download heaps of DIY activities – from making quicksand to creating a liquid crop circle. Visit the Holiday Makers hub.
Power, robots and bugs: Explore an EDF Energy Visitor Centre
You won’t just learn about how we produce energy when you pop into our visitor centres this school holiday… There are all sorts of different activities taking place daily: build a Star Wars Droid™ robot, explore nuclear power through virtual reality or discover the local wildlife around our power stations. We have eight visitor centres across the UK and all the activities are free. Some events need to be booked in advance – and spaces can fill up quickly – so take a look now at what’s on near you.
London & South East England
The Observatory Science Centre, East Sussex
Hidden behind a vast array of trees, just north of the South East coast, is this gem of a science centre for all ages. The six green copper-coated domes stretching into the sky make it an awe-inspiring sight as you drive up to the entrance, but for young people it’s the huge range of indoor and outdoor exhibits that you can climb on, spin, press, touch, move and interact with that make it so appealing. Over the summer holidays, they’ll be adding to the usual mix of exhibits and daily telescope tours with some science shows, workshops, open evenings (catch the Perseids meteor shower) and even an Astronomy Festival – with camping – from 31 August to 2 September. Find out what’s on at the Observatory Science Centre.
Summer Pop-up at Kidzania in London
Ever wondered what working in animation is like? What goes on in a chocolate factory? Or the kind of emergency situations you might have to deal with as an A&E doctor? KidZania gives 4-14 year olds the chance to try out a range of job roles and earn kidZos (KidZanian money) too. There’s a huge choice of professions to learn about – and this summer there’s the added bonus of a summer pop-up for Year of Engineering. From 20-31 August, young people can learn about marine engineering with the Sea Cadets – testing out real engines with some hands-on learning experiences – or take part in design, build and test challenges (with prizes), run by the Engineering Development Trust. Find out more and book your visit.
Image credit: Thackray Medical Museum.
We The Curious, Bristol
There’s heaps going on at We The Curious (formerly known as At-Bristol) this summer based around the question, ‘What if I could change the world?’ Visit the high-tech house to see how scientists are using sensors to capture data about our daily activities to help people stay healthy in their homes. Stay late for a planetarium night (over-16s). Or book on the Chain Reaction activity to get inventive with others and create a contraption from scrap metal, toys, pulleys, electronics and more – like the one you might have seen in this world-famous advert. Find out what’s on and buy tickets.
Cardiff’s science discovery centre, Techniquest, is open late over the summer hols, giving you even more time to explore its 130 interactive exhibits, take in its new show Operation Earth, for budding environmental scientists, and join in a Star Tour to learn about the night sky. From 13-31 August, Techniquest will also be running summer camps for 7-11 year olds with activities covering space, biodiversity, the human body, robots and forensic science techniques – booking is essential. Watch this film to find out what’s on.
Edinburgh Fringe, Edinburgh
If you live north of the border, you’ll be returning to school. But the good news is there’s still plenty on to keep you busy in the evenings or at the weekend – especially as Edinburgh Festival takes over the city this month. There are six new, fascinating science shows in the Edinburgh Fringe for young people, covering explosions and chemical reactions (Mark Thompson’s Spectacular Science Show); gravity-defying bubbles of all sizes (The Amazing Bubble Man); the weird and wonderful (the West End show, Brainiac Live!); food chains and digestive matters (Eaten); a trip into space (One Giant Leap for June); and what happens when science meets comedy (clue: it’s messy) in Science Magic. Find out more and book tickets.
RAF100 Aircraft Tour in Birmingham
If you happen to be passing through Victoria Square on the weekend of 25-27 August, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped onto a busy airfield… The Royal Air Force (RAF) will be taking over the pedestrianised area for the three-day bank holiday weekend with five aircraft on display, including two full-scale replicas. Members of the RAF will be on hand to talk to visitors about life as a fighter pilot and there’s an interactive STEM/Techno zone where you can learn about the engineering expertise you could develop with a job in the military. Get more details about the RAF100 Aircraft Tour.
The Science of Frankenstein, Leeds
200 years on from the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, you can explore more about the scientific theories behind this novel at the Thackray Medical Museum. There won’t be any actual stitching of body parts (phew), but there is a giant game of ‘Frankenstein Operation’ to play, electronics workshops to join in and the chance to try out stop motion animation. The activities are on every week day from 11am to 3pm; plus you can visit the permanent exhibits on your trip too, to learn about how medicine has evolved, life as a Victorian surgeon and the LifeZone, where you can explore the limits of your own body. Find out what’s on.
Great Exhibition of the North, Newcastle
Residents and visitors to the North East are spoilt for choice for science exhibitions and activities this summer holidays, as the Great Exhibition of the North runs until 9 September. This three-month celebration of the North of England’s inventors, artists and designers, includes far more activities than we have space to mention here! But highlights include: the Lego® Timeline of Northern Innovation at the Mining Institute; the illuminating history of the light bulb, told in the building where Sir Joseph Swan first demonstrated the incandescent light bulb in 1880 (The Lit & Phil); Robots – then and now – at the Life Science Centre; and the sound installation Whistle, of steam engine whistles, that you can hear at 1pm every day around the edge of the city. Discover more about the Great Exhibition of the North.
There are some amazing career opportunities open to those that study a broad range of subjects including ‘STEM’ (science, technology, engineering and maths) at school and beyond. Explore some of the career options available to you in our Jobs in STEM hub or read real-life stories from women working in these industries.