Techfest celebrates 25 years with 2018 programme launch

From left: Wendy Slimane (BP), Sarah Chew (TechFest), John Raine (Shell), Ayo Atti (13) from St. Margaret's School for Girls Aberdeen, Jackie Lockhart (curling silver medallist) and Emma Chew (7) from Drumoak Primary.  Picture by Abermedia /Michal Wachucik
From left: Wendy Slimane (BP), Sarah Chew (TechFest), John Raine (Shell), Ayo Atti (13) from St. Margaret's School for Girls Aberdeen, Jackie Lockhart (curling silver medallist) and Emma Chew (7) from Drumoak Primary. Picture by Abermedia /Michal Wachucik

TechFest, the North-east’s annual festival of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), was launched with a special silver-themed birthday event.

To mark its 25th year, curling silver medallist Jackie Lockhart lead the celebrations at Aberdeen University’s Kings College which included a TechFest STEM-themed birthday cake created by Cake That and Party, featuring robots, planets, equations and wind turbines, topped with a conical flask filled with dry ice to create a laboratory effect.

TechFest’s new programme of workshops, shows and presentations offer audiences the chance to explore how STEM subjects can be applied in a range of sectors, disciplines and in our day to day lives.

With a wide range of activities for all ages, TechFest 2018 will run from August 25 to September 22 at venues including Robert Gordon University and the University of Aberdeen.

Speakers include Scottish International and former Olympic Curler Jackie, who will share stories from her career alongside former Team GB curler and manager of Curl Aberdeen, Tom Brewtser, who will provide technical insight into how the maintenance of ice can affect the outcome of a match in Skating on Thin Ice (September 19).

As well as delving into wildlife, history, technology and music, TechFest 2018 also pays tribute to its milestone year with a range of events exploring the history and uses of silver.

National Museums Scotland will present key objects from its touring exhibition with Behind the scenes of Scotland’s Early Silver: From conservation to display (September 12) and Jacqui Grant, founder of Peterculter based Lava Jewellery Design, will share how the work of Charles Rennie Makintosh and Robert Burns has influenced her creations in Scottish Silver Design – from Tableware to Jewellery (September 18).

One of the aims of TechFest 2018, which is supported by joint principal funders BP and Shell, is to engage young people in the four main STEM subjects and encourage them to go on to follow a career which utilises these skills by demonstrating that they are both fun and relevant in day to day life.

Sarah Chew, managing director of TechFest, said: “This is a really exciting year for TechFest as we celebrate 25 years of the festival and we are pleased to unveil such a diverse and fun-filled programme for our anniversary.

“Once again we have some of the brightest minds and biggest personalities in the STEM sphere presenting, as well as musicians and sporting personalities who can demonstrate how STEM plays a role in their disciplines too.

“A lot has changed since we first launched as a charity in 1995, but our ethos of inspiring, educating and entertaining people of all ages has remained the same and we can’t wait to welcome everyone to TechFest 2018.”

Highlights of this year’s festival include the chance to hear professional naturalist and TV presenter Nick Baker provide insights into how to reconnect with the wildness that lives within us in opening event Return to Nature with Nick Baker (September 8).

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Olga Runcie examines the scientific enigma of sleep and asks what happens to our bodies when we are resting in Why do we Sleep? (September 13) and medical physicist and TEDx speaker Sonal Bhadane talks about treating cancer patients and developing lifesaving therapy machines in Radiation Therapy for Cancer treatment: insights into the profession (September 18).

Aberdeenshire singer songwriter Jenny Sturgeon will perform tracks from her critically acclaimed album ‘The Wren And The Salt Air’ as part of Jenny Sturgeon Trio (September 15), science magician and associate of the world renowned Inner Magic Circle Dr Matt Pritchard will explore the history, conflict and collaboration between scientists and magicians in Wonder Workers (September 19) and Cbeebies presenter Lizzie Daly uses experiments and demos to show some of the most bizarre survival strategies the natural world has to offer in Wild Adaptations (September 15).

Sarah added: “None of this would be possible without the help we receive from our sponsors and supporters, in particular our joint principal funders Shell and BP, whose continued backing allows us to engage people of all ages in the fantastic opportunities that STEM can offer.”

Steve Phimister, vice president for Shell Upstream, U.K. & Ireland, said: “Shell is delighted to be a part of this inspiring event, particularly as it celebrates 25 years.

“Shell is committed to supporting the next generation of young scientists and engineers as we continue to address the global energy challenges. “Working together with TechFest, we can #makethefuture today.”

Ariel Flores, regional president, BP North Sea said: “BP is delighted to once again support this inspiring event which, after an impressive 25 years, remains one of the main attractions in the Aberdeen festival calendar.

Developing capability and talent in STEM is a key part of BP’s strategy and this year’s TechFest programme promises to deliver a diverse range of fun-filled activities designed to stimulate an interest in these vital subjects.”

The 2018 Early Years and Primary Programme is expected to attract thousands of pupils and staff from primary schools and nurseries across Aberdeen City and Shire from August 27 to August 31 and the Activity Weekend will run at RGU’s Garthdee campus on August 25 and August 26.

Tickets are available now from www.aberdeenperformingarts.com or by calling Aberdeen Box Office on 01224 641122.

For more information on TechFest 2018, visit www.techfest.org.uk or follow TechFest on Facebook and Twitter.