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Hearing first-hand from a NASA astronaut what life is like in space to ‘the science of coffee and dessert’ and a ‘science idol’ competition, the eighth New Zealand International Science Festival, has captured the hearts and minds of attendees with the festival theme of ‘what makes us tick?’. The festival began on Saturday 30 June and culminated with a day of hands-on events with kids making paper origami hearts containing a ‘thank you science’ message in Wall Street Mall, Dunedin on Sunday 8 July, 2012.
Numerous workshops for all ages were held during the nine days of the festival including popular interactive activities with NASA Astronaut Stephanie D. Wilson and street science stunts by visiting Australian science communicator Chris Krishna-Pillay, supported by the Australian High Commission.
Chris Green, Festival Director said the 2012 festival had been a huge success with an anticipated number of over 11,000 attendees, exceeding expectations and building on previous years.
“This year festival events have delivered something for everyone – from the ‘science idol’ competition which was New Zealand wide for the first time, to evening talks for students, families and adults, to hands-on events for kids and young professionals.
We wanted to reach people who wouldn’t normally go to a ‘science’ event, so we took science to the community, with street science stunts, sci.demos in Wall Street Mall, kids’ workshops in libraries and other locations around the city and we’ve had heaps of fun doing it,” said Chris.
Highlights of the festival also included an evening of science and innovation with Sir Ray Avery GNZM, a ‘women in science’ breakfast sponsored by the British High Commission; a return to the festival by popular clinical psychologist Nigel Latta; the Fortune Theatre production of In the Next Room or the vibrator play; and popular workshops for kids including a hands on anatomy, discovering the use of colour in our lives, cuddly bacteria and the well attended ‘Let’s Tock’ University of Otago Science Expo.
The festival featured over 100 events helping cement Dunedin as a city of learning and discovery. Visiting international and national guests, leading experts and students from the University of Otago and many other partner organisations led Cafe Scientifique discussions, presentations and interactive workshops across the city.
“Hours of hard work, support from the festival team, external event organisers, our amazing volunteers, key funding partners and local and national sponsors had been a testament to the success of the festival,” Festival President Mike Harte said.
US science rapper, Fulbright graduate fellow and University of Otago Masters student Tom McFadden, aka The Rhymebosome toured schools in New Zealand prior to the festival. The tour was supported by the US Embassy to promote the ‘science idol’ competition with 16 year old Dunedin student James Mustapic scooping the grand prize with his Justin Bieber scientific musical parody ‘Covalent Love’. This clip has now been recorded in the University of Otago’s Albany Street music studio and a final video clip is yet to be released, as part of the grand prize.
The 2012 New Zealand International Science Festival is sponsored by two major funding partners, the University of Otago and the Dunedin City Council.
Background on the New Zealand International Science Festival
New Zealand’s only International Science Festival has developed, managed and run seven festivals in Dunedin every two years since 1998.
In 2012, the theme of the eighth biennial festival will be “what makes us tick?”, setting the scene for nine days of inspiring and fun-filled events.
Highlights of the festival include appearances by leading international scientists as well as a variety of stimulating workshops, stunts, street science events, expos and entertainment.
The 2012 festival is generously supported by a number of sponsors, funding partners and volunteers; without their support the festival would not be possible.
Up to 40 individual volunteers help run festival events, and thousands of visitors from all over New Zealand and abroad are expected to participate. www.scifest.org.nz