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Countdown to Oxford’s science and ideas festival

Monday 14th October 2019

With only two weeks to go, we’re getting super-excited about the IF Oxford science and ideas festival, which we are delighted to support once again as associate partners. Amid a flurry of activity in the IF bunker, the countdown has begun for an inclusive science-tastic takeover of Oxford, featuring over 100 diverse events from 18-28 October 2019. 

IF Oxford promises a huge range of interactive events in Templars Square and Westgate shopping centres, churches, theatres, pubs, and even cemeteries – plus out on the streets with unique walking tours. Speed date with ideas, or pop into the Living Library and meet researchers, writers and thinkers. Meet Iggy the Iguanodon or peek through a giant periscope with street performers.

It’s all about hands-on science at the Explorazone in the Town Hall, or head to Blackbird Leys for Black Panther-inspired activities from green screen to VR at Blast! – and discover the latest technology for tomorrows adults at City of Oxford College (and try our maths carousel puzzle challenge). Take a cyber selfie as make-up meets facial recognition, pit your wits and solve forensic challenges or conservation-themed escape rooms, or be entertained by comedy, film, rap & experimental music, and moved by a national touring dance production exploring power and physicality.

We’re joining in the ‘party in a Petri dish’ at our family Planetarium at BLAST! at Blackbird Leys Community Centre (28 Oct) where we’ll tell amazing stories of the stars free to book or drop-in on the day. Wherever you go, expect science with a twist, exploring the big issues of the day. Most importantly, have a go – as IF Oxford is all about you, so get ready to get your brain buzzing. Many events are free to book – you Pay What You Decide on the day.

Our other #IF events are now sold out or fully booked: RoboChallenge (19 Oct) as young coders aged 9-12 let the battle commence with robot buggies, and we go Out Of This World at our science cabaret (22 Oct), featuring a star turn from Chris Lintott (BBC Sky at Night). He’ll be explaining why ‘It’s Never Aliens’ and is joined by a stellar line up of science communicators performing everything from musicals to magic. We leave no stone unturned at Geology Rocks Saturday Science Club (26 Oct) with a special guest appearance by the Moon, where we’ll be examining real lunar rocks to mark the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. 

Our team will be out and about running events and volunteering at the festival. Here are the top 5 events they are looking forward to!

Jude Eades, Communications Director – “I can’t wait to do the Immersed in Conservation escape room (19thOctober)– a really unusual way to learn how humans are impacting wildlife across the world.”

Rowena Fletcher Wood, Events Officer – “I’ll be delivering several events, including our “Out of this World” science cabaret, (22 Oct) with magic acts, comedy and music, where War of the Worlds meets a knitted artificial neural network – it’s going to be… well, out of this world! I’ll also be volunteering on Blue Skies Research at the Westgate Wonderlab & Explorazone at the Town Hall, bringing earth, air and oceans to the table. The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Environmental Chemistry Group will be delivering hands-on riverwater testing, microbead-hunting, and an ocean acidification demo involving flumes of dry ice!

Sophie Batin, Education Outreach Manager  – Only Expansion, Oxford Playhouse walking tour (various dates)

“I love the idea of experiencing Oxford, a city I know well, in a completely different way and the fact that no two people will hear exactly the same audio, even if they choose the same route. Plus, the content sounds fascinating; climate change poetry blended with Tunisian winds – yes please!”

Sarah Townson, Clubs / Technology Officer – RoboChallenge, MakeOxford OCFI (19 October)

“We’re going to be programming robots then battling them in our new arena. Families can add unique features to their code, to make their robot especially awesome – maybe teaching it whether it’s upside down or not, to make it easier to drive, or getting it to play a tune to startle their opponent! I’m really excited about this workshop, because I’ve built some brand-new robots for it, and can’t wait to see the fun features families add to customise them for the challenges – they are always so creative!”

Georgina Matthews, Communications Manager – The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, St Mary’s (21 October).

“A couple of weeks ago, I went to the AI Conference at the Said Business School. There were lots of TED-style presentations from start-up tech businesses that are using AI – from detecting the early signs of dementia to identifying fake news stories online. If AI can generate human-like outputs can it also make human-like decisions? This got me thinking about the ethics of AI and data…. With the largest grant since the Renaissance for the development of the Stephen A Schwarzman Centre for Humanities, home to a new Institute of Ethics in AI, Oxford is poised to become centre of the debate.
This starts with IF-Oxford’s “The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence” at St Mary’s on 21st October with the Rt Revd Steven Croft, the Bishop of Oxford and Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information. I’m looking forward to finding out more and listening to what should be an interesting, topical discussion.”

The full IF programme is now available online.






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