Bristol Festival of Nature 2014

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Date: 14 June - 15 June 2014
Venue: Bristol Harbourside
Venue Location:

The Bristol Festival of Nature unleashes the city's wild side once again this summer, taking over the Harbourside on the weekend of 14 - 15 June.

Featuring over 100 organisations, the Bristol Festival of Nature Wild Weekend gives wildlife-lovers of all ages a unique opportunity to discover and enjoy the natural world in the heart of the city. With a line-up of hands-on activities, fascinating talks, live entertainment, a market bursting with local produce and much more, the weekend is expected to attract over 12,000 people to Bristol's Harbourside.

Some exciting new additions to the weekend include the Explorer Dome portable planetarium, Soapbox Science and a specially created wildlife garden, alongside returning favourites including the BBC Natural History Unit, who will be giving visitors the chance to find out if they have what it takes to be a wildlife presenter and North Somerset Butterfly House, who will install their immersive pop-up butterfly garden.

View the full programme of events and activities taking place.

UWE's tent in Millennium Square

Visit UWE's tent on the Millennium Square hosting fun science tricks, interactive activities relating to our research, such as Robots vs Animals, Alien invasion, Chocolate detectives, as well as Daisy the cow, courtesy of Hartpury College.

Saturday 14 June - 10:00 - 18:00

Robots vs Animals

'Robots vs. Animals' is a creative collaboration between engineers and zoologists, exploring the ingenuity of both nature and humankind. Over millennia of evolution, animals have developed senses way beyond human capabilities to adapt to their environment. Now in the age of high-tech robotic engineering, the science of biometrics seeks to copy and improve these skills to develop futuristic robots. In this display we will showcase some of the robots developed at Bristol Robotics Laboratory, and reveal the design process taken by engineers to create biologically inspired robots. The robots utilise active touch with whiskers, power generation from urine and abilities to work together in cooperative societies. But which are better, robots or animals? The public will decide!

Eco Bot and microbial fuel cells

The participants will be to interact with robots which will be battery operated but will demonstrate how microbial fuel cells can be used to operate them. Using Bristol harbour water, microbial fuel cells will generate electricity and participants will be able to measure electricity output.

The Smell Lab: the bad, the good and the ugly

'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' will highlight the dangers of off-food – demonstrating rotting potatoes in safe plastic bowls. Displays will highlight different types of fresh or rotting fruit, while a 'super nose' sensor machine will detect tiny molecules emitted from rotting organic material. The sensor has been developed by UWE scientists to help prevent food waste.

The Smell Lab: jelly beans

We might think we taste our food, but really it's our nose which is doing the work. Smell is a large component of taste, and in this laboratory set-up we will demonstrate different aspects of the science of aroma and challenge the sense of smell. The No Smell Taste Test will challenge children to guess the taste of a jellybean while wearing a nose clip – which is near impossible without being able to smell!

The activities are aimed at children however learning will be extended with information about flavour chemistry, the sense of smell, and technology to protect food supplies.

Chocolate detectives

Activity with Play-dough that interactively shows a simplified version of how a genetic code in DNA can be compared to identify the origin of the cocoa in chocolate.

Plant model with paper bugs that contain paper stripes mimicking DNA. DNA from different bugs are compared to a model pattern to identify the species of specific bugs attacking cocoa trees in order to establish the best natural defence mechanism to apply.

Alien invasion

Visitors are asked to vote for the best among three ideas to fight an alien invasion to Earth. It is then revealed how the alien invasion and the proposed ideas are an analogy for plants fighting bacterial pathogens.

Steppers and energy bikes

A very popular interactive activity about exercise, health and energy. Join us in doing some gentle (stepping) exercises and compare pulse rates; or try out our bikes to see how much energy is needed to cycle one minute or how many light bulbs you can light.

Bristol's Brilliant Soil

A soil demonstration will indicate that Bristol is very special for growing food, as it has some of the precious 3% of the country's Grade 1 miracle soil. The 'Blue Finger' of soil projects into north Bristol, and is used for market gardening to grow exciting foods. The soil map will have a series of footprints to follow, show the Blue Finger (best land) in blue on the map.

Bio luminescent Bacteria

Participants will be given a short description of background, and then will enter a make-shift darkroom containing agar plates covered with a bio luminescent bacterial strain, to observe the level of light generated. Participants will then be given a single agar plate and a household product (e.g. contact lens solution, fairy liquid, toothpaste etc) and will apply the product to the surface of the plate. An image of the plate will be taken to show any anti-microbial activity of the product, using our ChemiDoc system. Participants will take a print-out home with them.

Daisy the Cow

The UWE Hartpury stand hosts Daisy the Cow, a life size milking simulator. Put your milking skills to the test to win a prize! We also have games and quizzes so you can learn about the dairy industry in the UK and find out what impact milk has on your wellbeing and the health of the environment.

You can also catch the Robotics talk in the Talks Tent:

11:00 Robots vs Animals

Leading roboticist Professor Alan Winfield and animal experts from Bristol Zoo demonstrate how engineers mimic nature to copy some of the animal kingdom's best superhuman skills.

Sunday 15 June - UWE tent - 10:00 - 17:00

All activities as on Saturday, except for there is no robotics. Robotics will be replaced by 'Pesticides and the community' (see below):

12:00 – 12:30 and 16:00 – 16:30 - Pesticides and the community

Drawing the line with pesticides

How should we use pesticides? Should we be doing more to save pollinators? How to draw the line when we don't have solid evidence?

Come and have your say on pesticides and the community: join us to discuss whether we should use technology, regulation or alternatives to deal with the risks of crop diseases.

Two short, open forum discussions on pesticides and the community: encouraging members of the public to engage in the complex process of using science to make decisions. Focusing on whether we should use technology, regulation or alternatives to deal with the risks of agricultural diseases, and where we should draw the line with pesticides.

Both days in the UWE tent: Saturday 14 June and Sunday 15 June

  • The Big Screen– a selection of films made by UWE's Wildlife Film Making students and the Science Communications students.
  • Reportage Drawing – Acting as a visual journalist, UWE Illustration student Imogen Clowes will be creating a unique record of the festival through live drawing. She has beautifully documented the Bristol Food Connections festival and will be continuing her reportage drawing at the Festival of Nature.
  • Animation - UWE Animation students have made a short animated film for the Shark and Coral Conservation Trust which will be shown in their Tent in the Amphitheatre.

Cost: Free

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