Staff Newspaper of Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
IC Reporter
  Issue 89, 11 February 2000
Educational development gets set for a revamp «
Boing-Boing springs to life «
Two Colleges unite to make medical history «
Athnet launches «
New chief executive of IRSL at Hammersmith Hospital «
College telephone number changes planned «
Now we are five «
Helen Smith returns to Imperial «
Creating Sparks is set to light up South Kensington «
Sinfonic triumphs take centre stage in 2000 «
Regular Features
In Brief «
Media Mentions «
Noticeboard «
The view from the tower «

Creating Sparks is set to light up South Kensington

Creating Sparks
A selected audience in the House of Commons will be first to hear about the largest arts and science festival since the Great Exhibition of 1851 which will transform South Kensington later this year.

Guest of honour, Culture Secretary Chris Smith and members of parliament, peers, sponsors and directors of institutions involved, will learn about 'Creating Sparks' on Valentine's Day from the rector, Lord Oxburgh. The three week event will feature more than 400 individual events, set to attract 500,000 visitors in September 2000 and is being coordinated by the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA).

The festival involves the 'South Kensington eight' - Imperial College, the Natural History Museum, Royal Albert Hall, Royal College of Art, Royal College of Music, Royal Geographical Society, Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Imperial showcase
Imperial College will play a central role in the festival, as host of the British Association Annual Science meeting between 6-13 September. A College specific contribution will be the Imperial Showcase series of daily lectures by IC academics from all parts of the College. So far, more than 30 academics have signed up to give demonstration lectures throughout the week of the BA meeting. Professor Igor Aleksander, pro rector (external relations) is coordinating the overall contribution to the festival. For further details, and an opportunity to contribute to Imperial Showcase, contact Michelle Hammond extension 49852 or

Sparkling events
The Big Bazaar family day, expected to attract 50,000 visitors, will spill out into Exhibition Road, which will be closed off to traffic on the first Saturday of the festival. A children's concert with the BBC is scheduled in Hyde Park on the Sunday.

Throughout the month, a colourful variety of events will follow, intended to attract a diverse audience and promote South Kensington, highlighting the cultural richness and diversity of the site.

Creating Sparks experiments will involve visitors, particularly youngsters, in a variety of creative scientific investigations. A major, nationwide experiment will be launched during National Science Week next month and the results announced during the festival.

Visitor Voices will feature vox pop booths which allow visitors to record their views, hopes and fears at the turn of the millennium. Daily recordings will be edited and broadcast on a video wall near the Mechanical Engineering building.

The Star Gazers' programme will include daily talks and performances about the future from leading figures from the sciences, engineering and arts. They will help dispel the myth that science and engineering are remote, inaccessible and boring by engaging audiences in the Festival's theme of creativity at the frontiers of the arts, sciences and humanities.

In Devious Devices, an exhibition of scientific automata will be on display, inspired by 20th century objects at the Royal College of Art. Digital Dancing Sparks involves a specially commissioned digital dance by Random Dance Company performed at the V&A and Carnyx Concert showcases Sinfonia 21 at the Natural History Museum featuring a 2000 year old Celtic war horn.

Creative concept
The concept for Creating Sparks was first inspired in 1996 by Lord Oxburgh. Then President of the BA, he so enthused fellow directors of South Kensington institutions at the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, that they were eager to help orchestrate the initiative.

"Creating Sparks will help foster continuing public interest and involvement in both the arts and sciences. Almost everything we take for granted in a civilised society is the result of scientific discovery and artistic endeavour working in harmony," he said.

"Developing new methods, unexpected approaches and flashes of inspiration across engineering, the sciences and arts, all depend on creativity."

The event echoes the BA's own scientific programme, established in 1831, to reflect dynamic areas within the natural and social sciences and offer a broader and deeper understanding of the concepts, methods and possibilities of science, engineering and technology.

For further details see

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11 February 2000