The Edinburgh Science Festival, running from 31 March to 15 April is celebrating bringing science to the people. Andy Dorin, our Forth Area manager was at the launch.
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be at the launch at this amazing event, institution, riot of knowledge and sheer delight of science. True to form there was nitrogen ice cream, DIY open heart surgery and a menagerie of balloon animals all demonstrating that the Festival really is something to celebrate and why it is now in its thirtieth year.
Science is at the heart of what we do in SNH and while good research helps us understand how natural systems operate and what the conservation requirements are of particular species. The Festival offers some great opportunities to experience “natural science” in the outdoors. Here are a few of my favourites.
For ages of 3+, you can visit the Camera Trap Stall at the Edinburgh Zoo Education centre. It’s a free drop in event 11-3pm on Saturday 7, Sunday 8 and Sunday 15 April, and you can find out more about how camera traps allow us to find out more about wild animals and their behaviour. SNH has also been using camera traps extensively in our work assessing the range of the wild cat in Scotland. This animal is under pressure, with cross breeding with feral domestic cats threatening its genetic integrity.
Another great event is the Nature Detectives: an event for families on Monday 2 & Tuesday 3 April at Dynamic Earth: it’s free but booking required. This will take a walk on the wild side to discover creatures past and present that make their home there. Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat form part of Arthur’s Seat Volcano Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is notified by SNH for its geological and botanical interests. The SSSI is in three separate areas around Edinburgh: Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat, the smaller Calton Hill, and Castle Rock. Arthur’s Seat is one of the most studied ancient volcanoes in the world. It has all the features of a typical volcano and the sequence of eruptions is the best in Britain. Amazing to think, five separate vents spewed lava flows. Three types of volcanic rocks are present: lava (where molten rock reached the surface), volcanic debris and intrusions (where the magma below the earth’s surface was squeezed upwards or between sedimentary rock layers but remained below ground). The Salisbury Crag Sill was vital in developing the modern science of geology and the great earth scientist, James Hutton used it to first illustrate this very process.
For adults, one worthwhile event will undoubtedly be the Water of Leith Debris Discovery Day. Swap the crowds of Princes Street to enjoy the quiet glades of the Water of Leith and a bit of green workout : 10.30 Sunday 8 April, prebook. The Water of Leith Conservation Trust are organising a clean-up of this green thread that runs through the centre of Edinburgh, and this will be followed by storytelling by Alette Willis. You’ll need your wellies or stout shoes, but clean up materials and gloves will be provided.
A little less energetic promises to be the #Pianodrome Wood Id Workshop and Tree Tour at the Botanic Gardens Saturday 14 April (from 11.00am, pre-book, see programme for prices). Did you know that the average piano is made up of 8-16 different species of wood? These events offer a talk on piano technology, one that it definitely dependent on nature, followed by a tour of the living trees that make up these beautiful instruments.
Details of all these events and many, many more can be found in the Edinburgh Science Festival Programme. Enjoy!