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Northern Ireland Science Festival

From the 26th February - 28th February The Open University in Belfast were involved in the inaugural NI Science festival, the first of its kind for Northern Ireland.

The NI Science Festival was spread out over 11 days from 19th February – 1st March, offering a wide range of events focusing on the wonders of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The festival catered for both children and adults. Day time presented a whole host of workshops, talks and interactive activities for young people, families and schools. In the evening the festival came alive with an eclectic mix of scientific debates, talks, theatre, comedy, music and film for adults.   

The Open University in Belfast hosted 8 events over 3 days and attracted over 1250 people to enjoy and embrace science. 


Magic of Oxygen

Mike and Rob demonstrating


The Magic of Oxygen is a show presented by Open University scientists and is all about the weird and wonderful properties of atoms and molecules, and one of the most important molecules oxygen.  During their shows audiences were entertained by a few flashes and bangs along the way as some explosive mixtures were conjured up. Mike and Rob amused us with a light-hearted look at the work of scientists such as Boyle, Newton and Priestley, and recreated some of their experiments in unusual ways.

Some of the bizarre and often unpredictable experiments included:

·         how to find a genie in a teapot

·         how to make toothpaste for an elephant

·         an extraordinary use for marshmallows

·         how to make fire from water


News from The Outer Fringes 

Professor Monica Grady


Monica Grady Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences at The Open University presented at one of the main events in NI Science Festival at the Black Box. Monica pioneered the development of a tool on the Philae lander probe which was part of the Rosetta space mission project called Ptolemy.

Monica presented to a packed audience about her experience of working on the Rosetta mission for over two decades. She explored results from the gathered from the comet P67 to illustrate how comets and meteorites have influenced the development of life on Earth.

 Before the event, Monica gave a wide-ranging interview to Sync NI about her career and the Rosetta mission.




Be an Astronomer for the night

Mark Thompson


Mark Thompson from BBC Stargazing Live and astronomers from The Open University hosted an evening exploring the night sky with The Open University’s PIRATE telescope.

The PIRATE facility is based in Mallorca. A remotely controlled 17 inch telescope with high quality imaging cameras, PIRATE is used for exo-planet research and exploring new and interesting objects found by the galaxy-mapping satellite, Gaia. The evening consisted of demonstrations and presentations to explain this cutting edge technology as well as the chance for members of the public to control the telescope themselves!