Swindon's Festival of Tomorrow set for lift-off

By Barrie Hudson - 26 January 2022

  • Life in space will be the subject of a talk by Mission Control veteran Libby Jackson from the Swindon-based UK Space Agency

    Life in space will be the subject of a talk by Mission Control veteran Libby Jackson from the Swindon-based UK Space Agency

Swindon's celebration of all things scientific, The Festival of Tomorrow will be held towards the end of next month.

A replica of the Boaty McBoatface submersible robot will be on show

Families have been snapping up tickets for Swindon's Festival of Tomorrow since the main programme was announced.

The festival will be held at The Deanery CE Academy in Wichelstowe on 25 and 26 February, and visitors will have the chance to learn about the latest developments in everything from interplanetary exploration to palaeontology. The free admission tickets, available at www.festivaloftomorrow.com, are visitors’ passports to the Discovery Zone, where they will be encouraged to:

- Explore the latest technology

- Meet and chat with leading scientists and engineers

- Watch live demonstrations with liquid nitrogen

- Take part in free hands-on activities

Highlights will range from revelations of the distant past to hints of the distant future.

In event called Discovering the Mammoth Graveyard, people will be able to hear from the fossil hunters and team of scientists behind the amazing discovery which led to recent BBC One documentary, Attenborough and the Mammoth Graveyard.

This year's festival sees the return of Explorer Dome, with Invisible Universe. The flagship planetarium show celebrates the James Webb Space Telescope, which was launched on Christmas Day and promises to revolutionise our understanding of the universe.

Visitors will have the chance to get up close to breath-taking live projections from the surface of the Sun thanks to a large-scale installation developed by UK scientists, and there will be the chance to make space-inspired artworks to take home – or to add to an ever-growing display!

Festivalgoers will be able to meet an inflatable replica of Boaty McBoatface, the underwater robot or autonomous underwater vehicle that explores the Antarctic oceans for the British Antarctic Survey.

There will also be opportunities to take part in challenges from Intel and enjoy free robotics workshops with the James Dyson Foundation.

The festival is once again sponsored by Swindon-based UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the group behind many of the innovations featured as part of the festival including Boaty McBoatface and components of the James Webb Space Telescope. UKRI will be hosting a range of exhibits at a dedicated stand at the Deanery CE Academy which will enable visitors to meet the inspiring scientists and innovators UKRI supports.

Other important sponsors are Business West and the Swindon-based UK Space Agency.

Some of the highlights from the wide variety of talks and shows that are on offer include:

  • The Wonderstruck Rocket Show - a spectacular live show which looks at the history and science of rockets from the discovery of black powder to the most recent exploits of SpaceX and others. Visitors can expect to see machines including a full-size working rocket car.
  • Life in Space – the Truth is Up There - the UK Space Agency’s Libby Jackson, a Mission Control veteran, will share some of the most fascinating real-life stories of space exploration.?
  •  Extreme Robotics! - BBC Science in Action Journalist Roland Pease and experts from the University of Bristol's School of Physics will show how a robot dog is helping to map radiation levels at Chernobyl – and what this means for developing robotic systems in extreme environments.
  • The Four Technological Superpowers that Change the World – with Intel - visitors can come and talk about how you experience technology and interact with devices from PCs to other connected machines.

For those who can’t make the Festival in person, or who want to dive deeper into the subjects on offer, there will also be a wide range of virtual activities and content available online through the Festival’s virtual event app.

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