Edinburgh International Science Festival was founded in 1989 as an educational charity that aims to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to discover the world around them. The two-week festival has a diverse programme of innovative events. This year DiStruc fellows participated in a joint outreach workshop on squishy materials with Colldense Innovative Training Network (ITN) and the non-profit organisation (NGO) Sunshine for Palestine. 

Nature matters, 6-8 April 2018, Edinburgh

Do you want to invent the materials of the future? Then be inspired by nature! Then join our soft matter physicists and learn how to make light using a potato, create a magnetic liquid sculpture, examine food under a microscope and try to break the record for the longest fibre made from seaweed. For ages 8-12. (see Booklet)

Marion Roullet, ESR - Colldense ITN, organiser of the workshop:

In April, early-career scientists from the ITNs Distruc, Colldense and the NGO Sunshine for Palestine came to Edinburgh, travelling from all over Europe. It was not the whisky, the bagpipes or even the cold wind that motivated their trip, but one of the largest science festivals in Europe, the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Over three days, the group of scientists animated a hands-on workshop on squishy materials for children and their parents. Following the theme of the festival “Life, the Universe and Everything”, the workshop was entitled “Nature Matters” and was aimed at introducing the young visitors to the marvels of material science, focusing on materials from and inspired by nature. The activities ranged from making seaweed fibers or butter to lighting a diode using a potato. The parents were also involved and they got to chat with a young and diverse crowd of researchers, far from the stereotype of the crazy old male professor. 

This was a great experience for everyone involved. The 130 children and their parents gave an excellent feedback, thanking the team for their energy and enthusiasm. The researchers enjoyed the opportunity of inspiring the new generation by generating interest in science and vocations in the audience, who left ideas of innovative  squishy materials to solve their real-life problems.