Technology Simplified

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I was lucky enough to take my 7 yr old grandson along to some events at the Cheltenham Science Festival this weekend you can see more about the festival at We attended three events, on Friday evening Blazing Science. On Saturday, Absolutely Amazing Adaptable Animals and Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab. On the Saturday my grandson was with a friend us so there were two 7yr old critics.

Blazing Science was great fun. The presenter Mik Jacobs was funny, polished and much that he demonstrated had a real WOW factor. My grandson was totally absorbed and we were too.

Absolutely Amazing Adaptable Animals was a different type of event, it was presented by the children’s writer Claire Llewellyn (who doesn’t appear to have a website) and the zoologist Dr Theresa Burt de Perera. The event was not intended to have the same wow factor as Blazing Science. It was thought provoking and did “exactly what is said on the tin”. It was great fun, especially an activity at the end where we all had to pretend we were birds and compete to collect worms for our chicks.

I wish I had enjoyed Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab as much as the other two. To be fair the boys enjoyed it but I wonder how much of this was due to the content and how much due to them worshipping Richard Hammond. The preparation and polish was poor, a number of times  people in the audience had to call out as the presenters were so wrapped up in what they were doing that they forgot to direct the camera on the experiment. It was also difficult to see the experiments as the camera was of poor quality and the lighting was not good. The undoubted enthusiasm of Richard Hammond came across but it felt like an opportunity missed. I suppose I was left feeling that  Richard Hammond was having fun and being a personable man his enthusiasm infected the young audience but failed to impart any knowledge and surely isn’t that what the Science festival is about?

The stalls and demonstrations around the hall were fantastic and it was evident that oodles of energy and enthusiasm had been expended in making the event such a success. The undoubted star was for me though the Bristol University Mobile Teaching Unit (MTU). The proper name is a bit of a mouthful The Applied and Integrated Medical Sciences (AIMS) Centre for Teaching and Learning (CETL). To quote their website at

Image from the AIMS website

… From school visits to postgraduate courses, and through science fairs and the media, we aim to bring the university closer to the wider community. The main way in which we are achieving this is with visits from our Mobile Teaching Unit (MTU) …

Rather that ramble on for too long I’ll make AIMS the subject of a separate post.

If you are interested to hear more, go to this post:-


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