Great Exhibition Road was for the second day running transformed into a vibrant festival of arts and sciences from the giants of Albertopolis.
This year’s Great Exhibition Road festival theme was 'inspiring awe and wonder' - and it did not disappoint. The event featured not only Imperial but also all the museums and cultural heavyweights of Albertopolis – London’s home for science and the arts. Together they created a wonderful programme of workshops, activities, talks and much more.
Visitors flocked to the festival site to experience a great summer’s day out and explore the wide variety of attractions on offer. Families were out in force and dads had a Father’s Day to remember, whilst the little ones began to dream of being the scientists of tomorrow.
Extracting DNA from a strawberry
This interactive workshop gave children the opportunity to work with scientists from Imperial and the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences, learning about DNA, how it is contained in all cells and how it carries all the instructions for how the human body should work. With just a few simple household items such as washing up liquid and salt, kids learned the process of how to extract DNA from a strawberry!
The Smart Machines zone in the Queens Tower Rooms was a hive of activity, with budding engineers keen to explore how humans and machines may interact in the future. There were stalls ranging from robotic friends and revolutionary tech to green transport innovations and smarter AI.
"The smart machines zone takes a broad look at the ways that technology and data, combined with robotics and advanced engineering might interact with, and influence our future human lives". James Romero, Imperial Public Engagement Programmes Manager, Imperial
There was also the chance to play with LEGO robots and machines that can be taught to play games – and then build a 3D robot using recycled materials.
James Romero, Imperial Public Engagement Programmes Manager, said: ‘The smart machines zone takes a broad look at the ways that technology and data, combined with robotics and advanced engineering might interact with, and influence our future human lives. There are some really interesting exhibits on using machine learning to detect cancer and smart engineering to make space travel greener. There is also a big workshop where families and adults can design and build their own model robots to tackle a problem in society or in their own personal lives.’
Although one of the busiest cities in the world, London boasts a wealth of nature, and Imperial’s Urban Wildlife Challenges Team at the Grantham Institute gave children the tools to find out all about the wildlife surrounding them. As well as learning what nature is all around us here in the city, they also got the chance to make a beautiful leaf rubbing to take home with them as a keepsake.
The stall included a live moth trap and pitfall trap demonstrations, leaf drawings and bark rubbings, a selection of natural curiosities, and a species ID quiz! Meanwhile Tamara Venn, a Cambodia-based artist, painted a mural based on the varied species found throughout London.
Theodore Brook, PhD student in Silwood Park, said: ‘Our aim is to connect children and their families with nature by highlighting what can be found in local parks and green spaces. We hope this will encourage them to get outside and explore the wild and help fight for nature’s future!’
German delights at the Goethe Institut
The Goethe Institut put on a exciting line-up of workshops for young visitors including crafting, yoga and philosophy. There were screenings of award-winning German short films throughout the day, and taster German lessons for complete beginners through to advanced speakers, giving an insight into the teaching methods of the institute.
And to finish off, visitors were able to experience a sweet sample of German culture by creating their own Wundertüte - a traditional German ´bag of wonderful surprises’ - and take their goodies home to enjoy! Volunteers were on hand to talk about this fun German tradition and help out with decorating and filling the bags.
“The Festival is always one of the highlights of the year for us. Being the “German” house on this road full of culture and science, we offer a programme that showcases the full variety of what we do and you can experience how easy it is to learn the language”. Dr Katharina von Ruckteschell-Katte, Director of the Goethe Institut
Dr Katharina von Ruckteschell-Katte, Director of the Goethe Institut, said: ‘The Great Exhibition Road Festival is always one of the highlights of the year for us. Being the “German” house on this road full of culture and science, we offer a programme that showcases the full variety of what we do, including arts and culture workshops, film screenings, library events, and of course German taster classes, where you can experience how easy it is to learn the language.
Neta, administrative assistant from the Goethe Institut, said: ‘What’s being represented really well by the stalls not only at Goethe but at the festival as a whole is how all these areas that seem initially subject-specific are actually interdependent and have contexts not directly linked to the main subject. That has helped me so much and I’ve found it so interesting and useful’.
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Department of Life Sciences