How many chairs have you moved so far? 25? Oh, only another 100 to go…. Some kind of expletive went through my mind, and this was only one of the smallest tents at this year’s fantastic Cheltenham Science Festival. For the last day and a half, about 40 volunteers and I have been helping to put the finishing touches to the forest of marquee scattered about the stunning town hall in the middle of Cheltenham.
This year sees Cheltenham Science Festival celebrate its 10th anniversary. As Tuesday morning, the opening day of the festival, rushes ever closer expectations are high and the excited is mounting. Whilst running through a practice event earlier, director of the festival, Kathy Sykes explained how she thought of the festival, ‘A diamond of an event – something tangible and intense in time and space.’
With something for everyone, from the youngest whizz-kid to the oldest science nerd, I turned this years’ volunteers to see what they were dying to see, and what they hoped gain, from this year’s geek gathering!
“I’m looking forward to the Q&A session, because sometimes you need ignorance in order to force people to put science into a context that lay people can relate to,” Sam Hubble, Science Communications student, Cardiff University.
“The reason I have returned to volunteer for the fifth consecutive year is because I love the environment and atmosphere that the festival creates. I think opening up a space for the public to discuss and debate science is stimulating, inspiring and exciting,” Camilla Tham, MSc Science Communications graduate, bath University.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the crowds and the different people that an event like this attracts. In particular, chatting to a diverse range of science enthusiast, professionals, and everyone else in-between,” Florence Brockway, Science Communications student, Cardiff University.
“I’m really looking forward to the experience of the entire festival. It’s getting involved in the whole experience, and soaking up the atmosphere,” Alex Ellikhuijzen, Science Communications Master student, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
“All the science communications I have done so far has been maths, and I’m really looking forward to getting involved with science in its entirety,” Katie Steckles, PHd in Mathematics, Manchester University.
“I’m really excited about seeing Brian Cox silhouetted against a large illuminated sun,” Anonymous.
“I’m really excited for the Most Ambitious Demo Challenge, because last was awesome. I think science is the new rock ‘n’ roll,” Eli Jones, Science Museum explainer.
And as for me? I am dying to see how a range of subjects can be presented live! I have had experience dealing presenting science in a range of media, but none of them have been in real time. Although advances in social media have allowed more people to feel like they are entering a discussion, and adding their voice to the debate, at the moment no technology can match discourse in real life. I am eager to soak up the atmosphere and see the challenges that lives events bring.