Swindon’s virtual Festival of Tomorrow 2021 set to welcome thousands

By Nick Batten on 19 February, 2021

Thousands of Swindonians of all ages have registered to visit the lockdown-friendly virtual Festival of Tomorrow this weekend.

The free online event has a packed line-up of talks and shows running this Friday and Saturday, as well as a virtual planetarium, a science comedy panel show, a VR pub quiz and over 50 fascinating and fun exhibitors from a wide range of universities, institutes, and cutting-edge technology companies.

The Festival of Tomorrow, is a collaboration between New Elements and STEAM – the Museum of the Great Western Railway and is supported by Swindon-based UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). After the runaway success of last year’s inaugural event, the organisers were determined to bring the latest in science, engineering and technology to the town, despite the challenges of lockdown.

This free online festival of science and innovation showcases the latest research which will help us all to shape the future, from space exploration to advances in our understanding of everything from medicine to climate science and the creative industries.

Highlights from the programme of talks and shows include:

Roland Pease, BBC science journalist and a panel of leading experts reveal how UK science leads the fight against the coronavirus. This session will open with an incredibly rare opportunity for a LIVE close-up look at a real SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus, by the One Show’s Marty Jopson, using a Zeiss electron microscope.

Auroch Digital will be sharing a stream of their game Mars Horizon, created with support from the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency. Gamer and twitch streamer eirawave, and the UK Space Agency’s Paul Smith will be playing the game whilst discussing the future of space travel, the Mars Perseverance rover, and all things space!

Dr. Beth Healey, Research MD, European Space Agency (ESA) and Prof Paul Crawford, author of Cabin Fever: Getting through the pandemic and the challenges of isolation discuss the effects of the greatest confinement of people to their homes in history, and how to get through it.

The European Space Agency and four leading UK scientists, will share satellites are helping us to tackle climate change; what they can tell us about what is happening, what we can change and what we can do to prepare for the future.

Science Rapper Jon Chase will be giving a tour of the solar system with a difference, through the use of science-based raps that you can join in with at home! Explorer Dome’s planetarium show was a huge hit with visitors to last year’s festival; they’re back with a virtual show that brings the wonder of space into your living room.

There are a whole host of exhibitors offering a range of resources, activities, and live demonstrations to help bust half-term boredom, too. Families can take a behind-the-scenes tour of a lab, create some science-inspired art or download experiments to try at home.

Director of New Elements, Rod Hebden said, “The lockdown presented us with a huge challenge, but we’ve been amazed by the response from our partners and exhibitors, who have created some fantastic events. And whilst they all have real science and research at their core, there really is something for everyone, whether they have an interest in science or not.

“Whilst the STEAM Museum is delivering the latest science in practice, by stepping up to the challenge of facilitating vaccines, the Festival of Tomorrow is still coming from the museum in spirit, building on the world-leading engineering Swindon was built upon!”

For more information, visit www.scienceswindon.com