Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Smashfest UK is back!

After its successful debut last year, Smashfest UK is back in Deptford from 18-20 February. A free festival for all ages, it features comedy shows, music, film, experiments and theatre, it is intended to encourage exploration of science, technology, engineering and maths through art and design.

The festival is created around a compelling story; a massive solar storm is forecast which wipes out electrical and electronic infrastructure, throwing the world back to the mechanical age: how will we cope without our phones, tablets and social media? How will we survive as our networks, power, transport, medical and supply chains collapse?

Last year's event involved a biohazard spillage
Taking over the entire Albany theatre, including the performance spaces, cafe and garden, the programme includes a human power station, a geodesic dome full of giant ‘Maths’, comedians, poets and astronomers, human-sized mutant fruit flies, a premier of a new play written for the festival, the interactive Solar Storm Survival Unit, a variety show, electric paint, an Aardman animator, survival village building & survival skills, a pilot virtual reality experience and a Mutant Generation Unit. 

There will also be events running all week at the Deptford Lounge library, including the Smashfest UK planetarium, the Mechanical Mobile Phone Exoskeleton, a code-club, a solar exhibition, an artist's residency and a film programme, all themed around the imminent solar storm.

Over the next decade, the UK is heading for a shortfall of more than 50,000 workers for the science, technology, engineering and maths  sector, but only 15% of students aspire to science careers. In boroughs like Lewisham, the school population comprises almost 75% black and minority ethnic students, yet black students identify even less strongly with science as a career aspiration because of its overwhelmingly white, male, middle class image of science, and the multiple inequalities they face growing up, according to recent studies.

Recent research carried out by the National Science Foundation in their Art of Science Learning project demonstrates that art-based learning of STEM works, and works beyond expectation. Harvey Seifter, head of the NSF funded project and founder of the Art of Science Learning firm says "We found a strong causal relationship between arts-based learning and improved creativity skills and innovation outcomes in adolescents, and between arts-based learning and increased collaborative behavior in adults".

Dr Lindsay Keith, festival director & CEO of Refinery TV said: “Science festivals in the UK tend to cater to people who are already engaged with science, and an audience that tends to be ‘non-diverse’. So we thought – ‘why not bring a festival to the young people of Lewisham?’ “You won’t find lectures or debates at Smashfest UK – we’re about mass entertainment, bums on seats and science by stealth! If it’s not fun, it’s not in the schedule – simple as that.”

Find out more at http://smashfestuk.com

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