The Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity is a Lockdown-Friendly Digital Event This Year

Photos: Emma Ford and Jennifer Louko
Sunday 07 February 2021
reading time: min, words

After wowing audiences with an eclectic programme of events last year, the Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity is back with a new look and a lockdown-friendly digital festival this February. We caught up with festival producer Megan Shore to find out more about what FoSaC 2021 has in store…


For those who don’t know, can you tell us a bit about the Festival of Science and Curiosity?
We’re a community-focussed science festival. So we’re less about getting the likes of Brian Cox to come to Nottingham and sell out an arena, and more interested in bringing together our community, local researchers and everyone in the city to take part in science in some way. We’re all about breaking down barriers to what it means to be in science, looking at who does science and opening up lines of communication between people who don’t often get to discuss topics around science. 

Your 2020 festival had a really impressive, wide-ranging selection of events. Has it been difficult making this year’s festival digital-only?
Because the festival is so community-orientated, the events I’ll miss the most will be the ones at branch libraries, where you get loads of families coming along and there’s a really buzzing, excited atmosphere. It’s a little bit sad that we can’t do those sorts of things, but we’ve had loads of time to plan, and look at what other festivals, both in Nottingham and further afield, are doing in order to figure out some great alternatives. Forced innovation is what I’d call it, and we really have learnt a lot. So rather than it being doom and gloom, it’s actually really exciting to learn all of these new ways of delivering events. 

Which events are you most excited about?
We’ve got a programme called Wollaton Watch which is going to be shown five nights a week on Notts TV. It’s an hour each day at 4pm, targeting children and families. Over the last couple of months we’ve been out capturing lots of footage of our natural environments, young people who are taking action for nature, volunteers, tree planting, researchers who work with wildlife, and compiling it together in a BBC Springwatch inspired setup. It’s all very local, so people will recognise the locations.

We also managed to get on the roof at Wollaton Hall to do some stargazing with an astronomy professor from the University of Nottingham. We were looking at the night sky in October, so we could see Mars and Jupiter, and it was an amazing experience. We also want people to submit their own footage, whether it’s animals in their local park or anything interesting in the natural world, which we’ll show as part of the programme. We’ve never done anything like that before. It’s a bit scary, but it will enable us to reach loads more people and we’re really proud to be able to produce it. 

There’s so much disinformation around, and people’s trust in scientists is being tested more than ever, so there’s a lot of stuff in the festival on the subject of medicine and health science

The events of the last twelve months have seen the subject of science thrust into the limelight more than ever before. Has that affected your approach to planning the festival?
Definitely, because our understanding of science is much more important than ever before. There’s so much disinformation around, and people’s trust in scientists is being tested more than ever, so there’s a lot of stuff in the festival on the subject of medicine and health science. Another thing we’re trying to work toward is showing that there are lots of different people that work in science. Most of the scientists we see on television are still white males, and what we’re trying to do is change those perceptions and let people know that there is a massively broad spectrum of people working in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field.

How much of a problem is representation in the scientific community?
It’s a massive issue, and the last event of the festival is a panel discussion where we’ve got lots of people talking about the issue of diversity in STEM. We’ve got a really amazing speaker who runs Blast Fest, which is a Birmingham Festival that merges black culture and the sciences. Nottingham is such a diverse community, and it’s important that we get that right. Research shows that people need to see people who look like them achieving their goals to think that it’s possible for them to do so too. We need to be doing more as a festival to make sure that the people we’re platforming are from diverse backgrounds. I think that stands for the entire scientific community, and it’s something we need to do by working together.

Is inspiring young people to pursue a scientific career one of your aims?
That is definitely one of the aims, because a more diverse science is a better science. But the festival is also about the enjoyment of science. You have music festivals, and people will go who aren’t musicians, and don’t want to be musicians, but just enjoy music. I think a lot of what we’re trying to do is show people that science is something that can be enjoyed as a hobby or passing interest, as well as being part of our shared culture – it doesn’t just have to be for people who choose it as a career.

One of the most impressive things about FoSaC 2020 was that there seemed to be as many events planned for adults as there were for young people. Who do you see as your target audience?
The festival is for people who are curious! People who want to know more and have questions about the world, and people who want to ask questions. Age-wise, it’s children, families or adults. It’s important to have a broad programme that appeals to different ages, because it helps the public understanding of really important issues. That’s why this year’s festival has talks about how clinical trials work, and the future of medicine or the research behind sustainability. Those are really hot topics at the moment. I say they’re targeted at adults, but it’s really anyone over the age of fourteen will take something from them. It’s a shame that we can’t be doing things in Rough Trade and Broadway, the events we usually do, but hopefully we’ll be back there next year! 

The Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity takes place between Monday 8 - Wednesday 17 February. Keep an eye on their website and social media channels for full festival info

We have a favour to ask

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion

Please note, we migrated all recently used accounts to the new site, but you will need to request a password reset

Sign in using

Or using your

Forgot password?

Register an account

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.

Forgotten your password?

Reset your password?

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.