Manchester Science Festival 2013

Cooking up a Comet

Cooking up a Comet

The last week in October saw large parts of Manchester taken over by the 7th Manchester Science Festival. With a huge range of activities taking place in and around the city over 11 days, this year’s festival was bigger and better than ever.

The festival kicked off with a launch event at The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), which included the opening the new, and very interesting  Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in Antarctica exhibition. As the name suggests, this exhibition combines cutting edge architecture and science in one of the most extreme environments on Earth. Some people (err, no names mentioned!) may have got a little excited about seeing meteorites in this exhibition! There’s still time to visit, it will be open until early January, and it is well worth a visit if you’re near MOSI.

Effusive volcanic eruption

Effusive volcanic eruption

We took part in 2 events during the festival, both of which were busy (translation: exhausting!) and fun days.

Our Planetary Odyssey: The origins of Earth & the Solar System day at the Manchester Museum evolved from last year’s Meteorite Day. I’m not going to go into detail about all the activities we ran, as if you read this blog regularly you’ll have read about many of them before. But we are trying to increase our repertoire of activities. Building on the success of the erupting volcano that we made for Live from Jodrell Bank in the summer, we extended this demonstration to include a talk about the different types of volcanos we see on Earth and other planets in our Solar System. A series of very important experiments have indicated that diet cola produces

Erupting volcano

Erupting volcano

better eruptions than diet ginger ale! Here at Earth and Solar System HQ we do not endorse any particular brand of cola or ginger ale, but we do recommend healthy volcanoes – diet versions erupt better than the “full fat” ones. We also added some volcanic rocks for visitors to look at, to accompany the demonstration. Both the volcano and the comet demonstration ran a number of times throughout the day, and were packed out every time (there wasn’t even standing room at the back!).




Spacy face painting

Spacey face painting

We also had a stall at the University of Manchester’s annual Science Spectacular. This very popular event showcases research from across the University, with hand-on activities for all the family. This year’s stalls included investigating the carbon footprint of different types of food to looking at the effects uv have on our skin – I didn’t dare try that one, as I spend most of my time working with a uv laser. We don’t have the space to run a full range of activities here, so just took along the moon rocks and meteorites, which, as always, proved very popular. Although there were several children who didn’t really seem to believe that they were holding pieces of the Moon and Mars! The inflatable solar system hung across our stall proved to be more than just for show, it was very useful for pointing out where the asteroid belt is (between Mars and Jupiter)!

If you’d like to see  more pictures from these events then check out our Facebook page.

The asteroid belt is just here, between Mars and Jupiter

The asteroid belt is just here, between Mars and Jupiter

Lava flows

Lava flows

About Sarah Crowther

I'm a Post Doc in the Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry group. I study xenon isotope ratios using the RELAX mass spectrometer, to try to learn more about the origins and evolution of our solar system. I look at a wide range of samples from solar wind returned by NASA's Genesis mission to zircons (some of the oldest known terrestrial rocks), from meteorites to presolar grains.
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2 Responses to Manchester Science Festival 2013

  1. Louise says:


    We were at Manchester Museum for your science day, and say a big thank you for such a great and fun day. My little boy was overjoyed at holding the planets and moon rocks, and had loads of his questions answered…. Cue many more….

    We have been watching your site, and wondered whether you put your data together for the Mars Rover project (mission to search for water)? We were so inspired, we researched, printed pictures, and even built a Mars Rover of our own!! (Cardboard boxes, loo roll inners and tin foil!! – he is only 4)

    We’d love to read about the Mars Rover project from that day, if it is available. Thank you all so much again for a very memorable day…we still talk about it lots,


    • Sarah Crowther says:

      Hi Louise,

      Thanks for your message. We’re really pleased that you and your boy enjoyed the event at the Manchester Museum. Sounds like you’ve got a budding space scientist there!

      Unfortunately we haven’t had time yet to put together the data from the rover activity – too much to do in the lab and not enough time to sit down and work through all the completed forms. Keep an eye out and hopefully we’ll have time to post some results soon…

      We’ll be at MOSI next weekend, with the moon rocks and meteorites again (but maybe not the rover activity).


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