British Science Week 2019!

We’re in the middle of the 2019 British Science Week! It’s an annual event promoting science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) across the UK and, slightly contrary to its name runs for ten days, which this year is from the 8th to the 17th March.

The event promotes a programme of events across the country to encourage people of all ages to get involved in STEM activities.

It’s run by the British Science Association (BSA) with funding from the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. As well as local events there are a citizen project, virtual runs, activity packs and a school poster competition.

Attending Events
Events are taking place all around the country and you can find out more here.

Some of these that caught our eye this week include:

  • Art meets Science – journeys to the ends of the earth at Exeter Phoenix on 14th
  • Born to Sum – a Mathematician Explains the Pop Charts on 14th March at the Basingstoke Discover Centre.
  • Brickish Weekend 2019 – A weekend dedicated to LEGO© at the National Space Centre in Leicester.
  • Plankton Journeys on the 16th March at the Bournemouth Natural Science Society.

Citizen Science Project – Operation Weather Rescue
Our favourite event this year is the citizen science project to help to digitize old weather records. The Met Office has produced daily weather reports since 1860, and most weather observations from before 1950 are only in paper format. Despite the advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence the easiest way of digitising the records is still a human retyping the handwritten data.

During British Science week the focus is on the 1860 – 1880 records, and once these are digitised they will give researchers a vast new database of over two and a half million pieces of weather data to help support work on climate change, weather patterns and what this might mean for the future. Using many citizen scientists will speed the process up massively for the researchers, and whilst they don’t expect to finish the job this week it will be exciting to see how far through our many hands can get.

To participate, go to the website where you pick an area you want record measurements for – obviously I picked Plymouth – handwritten records appear on screen and if the area you picked is in the list you note the pressure, temperature and rainfall figures in the three boxes provided and click done! Simple as that! There are instructions and help from the team at Zooniverse who are running the project. I have already done my first few when writing the blog. Why don’t you have go?

There is a second level of interest for us in Plymouth. The UK’s Meteorological Office was established in 1854 as part of the Board of Trade under the leadership of Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy who had been the Captain of the HSM Beagle for Charles Darwin’s voyage. The Plymouth University has a FitzRoy Building which is home to the School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Science!

Run With the Ancestors – Virtual and Real Races
Run With The Ancestors is an immersive free app which condenses one million years of British History down to either a 5k or 10k race. You start your run with a barren landscape without human life, every kilometre you run will move you forward in time and you get to hear more about this country’s history.

For those that prefer to run with other people, on Saturday 16th March Run With The Ancestors events over both 5k and 10k will take place in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

Schools Poster Competition
There is a poster competition for children, supported by Guinness World Records, encouraging them to design a poster about anything involving journeys. The best posters from each school should be entered in the country-wide competition which has a closing date of 5th April at 6pm.

Download Activity Packs
There are downloadable activity packs available from the website for a variety of ages providing lots of exercises and activities promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics on the theme of ‘journeys’.
There are separate packs for early years, primary and secondary which give teachers, or parents a set of activities.

So whatever you’re doing this week, try to include some science!

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