Four scientists from Northern Ireland are off on a special mission this weekend – having been selected to perform at the Silesian Science Festival in Katowice, Poland.
The scientists – BBC presenter and science communicator Emer Maguire, astrophysicist Alan Fitzsimmons, developmental psychologist Victoria Simms and Declan McKenna, a specialist in biomedicine – will make their debut at the festival through an international collaboration with the NI Science Festival.
Supported by British Council Northern Ireland, the partnership will see the best local speakers from Poland and Northern Ireland appear at each respective festival – with Polish scientist Tomasz Rozek performing at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium in February.
Emer, who is well known for science shows presenting the relationships between music and science will deliver the shows ‘Science of Love’ and ‘The Mystery of Music (According to Science)’ at the festival, while Victoria, who focuses on the relationships built between children and parents, will bring two workshops to Katowice – ‘The Joy of Toys’ and ‘What Do Babies Think?’.
Meanwhile, Declan will bring a flavour of home to Poland, with his show – ‘Ginger Genetics’ and focusing on outer space, Alan will offer audiences – ‘First Contact: Our Visitors from other Stars’ and ‘Defending our Planet from Asteroids’.
Speaking ahead of the visit was Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland, who said: “Over the last six years, we’ve watched the NI Science Festival grow and become one of the most important events in our cultural calendar, so are thrilled to help strengthen and build their international connections around the world. This link with the Silesian Science Festival is especially important, as it highlights to Northern Ireland audiences examples of science and culture from Poland, while helping our up-and-coming scientists reach new audiences and make new connections.
“We hope this partnership is only the beginning in strengthening the festival’s international reach - and will lead to new opportunities between both festivals, as well as between Belfast and Katowice.”
For the NI Science Festival, Tomasz, a physicist and science journalist will host two shows at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium on Saturday, February 15 – ‘Agriculture in Space’, an exploration into how to grow food in an unusual environment, and a dynamic demonstration on capturing ‘The Sound of Space’.
Speaking about the collaboration, Radek Aksamit, Director of the Silesian Science Festival, Katowice said: “It is a privilege to have a selection of our country’s most innovative scientists be invited to the NI Science Festival with the support of the British Council. The exchange will give our speakers the opportunity to directly engage with an international audience of fellow scientists and individuals.
“During our visit to Northern Ireland, we want people to recognise and discuss the importance of invention to reduce the escalating risks of climate change and share the wonders of space through fun workshops.”
Chris McCreery, Director of the NI Science Festival shared his enthusiasm for the future of the Festival: “Our partnership with the Silesian Science Festival is exciting as it brings in an international wealth of talent that can continue to grow in the future. I am very grateful for the work of the British Council who have worked closely with us to achieve a strong relationship with international festivals.
“The exchange of knowledge, ideas and creativity provided by talented Northern Ireland scientists and science commentators to Poland aims to encourage people to question the world around them and make positive actions to address some of society’s most challenging issues.”
The Silesian Science Festival will run from tomorrow (Saturday, January 25) until Tuesday, January 28. For more information on the festival visit: https://www.slaskifestiwalnauki.pl/
NI Science Festival runs from 13-23 February 2020 – find more information here: https://www.nisciencefestival.com/
The British Council is the UK’s leading cultural relations organisation. For more information on current opportunities in Northern Ireland, visit nireland.britishcouncil.org, or follow on Twitter: @BCouncil_NI