Swindon Festival of Tomorrow shows to go on-demand

By Barrie Hudson - 26 February 2021

  • The BBC's Marty Jopson

    The BBC's Marty Jopson

The organisers of the Festival of Tomorrow will release some of the highlights online over the coming weeks and months. 

  • NASA's latest Martian probe

    NASA's latest Martian probe

Thousands of attendees enjoyed a glimpse of the future at the festival, Swindon’s annual showcase of the latest in UK research and innovation.

The Festival of Tomorrow is a collaboration between New Elements and Steam, and is supported by Swindon-based UK Research and Innovation, the public body responsible for overseeing all publicly-funded research. 

Director Rod Hebden said: "We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the positive response from visitors to this year’s festival. Although everyone missed the excitement of a physical event, we had lots of people of all ages telling us how much they appreciated being able to chat directly to world-leading researchers and experts on the online platform.

"Being online enabled us to bring together an amazing range of inspiring speakers and panellists that simply wouldn’t normally have been possible."

The first show to be released on demand is an in-depth look at how UK research is leading the fight against the coronavirus, with a panel of leading experts chaired by BBC Radio award-winning science presenter, Roland Pease. 

Visitors were intrigued to watch the BBC’s Marty Jopson, remotely operating a Zeiss electron microscope to give a live close up look at a real SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus.

Visitors were also delighted by a surprise last-minute addition to the programme - a rare, informal live Q and A session with Sue Horne, Head of Space Exploration for the UK Space Agency.  

Those who attended had the chance to ask a wide range of questions about the NASA Perseverance Mars rover landing, and the vital role of UK science in the mission. 





Alexis Mannion, Head of Public Engagement for UKRI, said: “Our vision is of a society in which research and innovation is created, used, challenged, valued and shared by all, and we believe that involving the public in research improves its quality and makes it much more relevant to society. 

"We’re delighted that so many visitors to the Festival of Tomorrow had the chance to explore how we’re tackling global challenges and building the world of tomorrow through research and innovation."

During the online festival, families were entertained by live shows from the BBC One Show’s resident science guy, Marty Jopson, and science communicator Ian B, Dunne, a virtual planetarium show, a Citizen Science climate observation project and as well as live experiments, demonstrations, and activities to try at home from over 50 exhibitors including Intel, the Institute of Physics and numerous universities and institutes. 

Other highlights included the European Space Agency and a panel of leading researchers explaining how satellites help tackle climate change, a science rap show and talks from experts on subjects as wide-ranging as the big bang, solar observation, the science behind healthier white bread and the psychological impacts of isolation. 

Visitors, the organisers said, particularly enjoyed the rare chance for a sneak peek behind the scenes at the Science Museum Group’s National Collection Centre project at Wroughton.

Further information can be found at www.scienceswindon.com/festival-on-demand


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