I took my daughter to the Edinburgh International Science Festival earlier in the week and we had a fantastic day out. If you’re in the area during the Easter holidays and fancy some inspiring fun, then this is the best place to go.
The family events are held at the City Art Centre, which is across the road from Waverley station (just go out of the Market St exit). You need to buy a day pass, which gets you into all the events . I found it strange that the childrens’ tickets are more expensive than the adult tickets. Some events can be pre-booked on a child’s ticket (because none of the events are for adults…) and this is advised as they can get busy. You can pre-book up to three events. We planned events between 30 minutes and a hour apart and that worked well – just enough time for lunch!
“World of Bubbles” was the first stop, where you can make your own bubbles, and even stand inside a bubble. I had to nearly drag my daughter away. Next up was “Adventure-Bots and the Temple Gods”, where they get get to pair up and programme a LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robot to play some games. Man I was jealous… The event lasted 45 minutes – plenty of time to make a new friend and have some fun.
“Mini Scientists” was next, where the children got to put on their white lab coats and protective glasses and discover more about DNA and viruses. That went down well. There were a number of freebies. Finally for the main events was “Unwrapping the Mummy”. I’m not quite sure about all that went on, as the children are taken away out of sight of the parents. Apparently there were a couple of creepy moments, but overall it was good.
The smaller events were equally as good – and do not need to be booked in advance. “The Chain Reactor” is a big machine where chemical reactions drive the action from one end to the other – explained by a mad professor. Then things got a bit more hands-on: in “Visual-Eyes” a lady takes the children through the different parts of an eye and then gets out a cow’s eyeball and dissects it . The plastic gloves went on so that they could have a poke and a feel… not for the squeamish, but a brilliant introduction to some proper science. More of the same at the “Blood Bar”, but this time it’s all about the heart, and to get a proper idea of how it all works, out comes a sheep’s heart. Plastic gloves were back on so that they could feel the muscles of the heart and stick their fingers into some of the tubes to see where they went.
There is only one thing to watch out for that made the whole thing more trouble than it should have been – I went on to the website, created an account and started to look at the events. It said that to pre-book the events I had to buy a ticket for that day (makes sense…). So I bought the tickets and got the email confirmation. Then I tried to book the events again and it told me that I still had to buy a ticket. Very annoying. The account did not recognise the fact that I had bought tickets, and I had to phone up the helpline. Apparently I was not the only one that had noticed this. The trick is to choose your ticket(s) and whilst they are still in your basket also pre-book the events – because pre-booking basically means ordering a ticket, but the ticket is free. Then proceed and pay. After speaking to the lady on the phone, I got an email confirming what events I’d booked. The good news – on the day of the visit all went smoothly and they had our names on a list of those who has pre-paid at the main entrance – so getting in was quick and easy – and our names were on a list that the helpers had for who was booked in to what session, so they were expecting you when you turned up.
Overall it was a brilliant day out, and five hours raced by. It’s a real shame that we weren’t in Edinburgh longer so that I could check out some of the talks and events for adults. Maybe next year, if we can make it back.