Human Technology: past, present & future

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Engineering


From the most basic tools to cutting edge applications of new science, the practical use of technology is, and always has been, a fundamental part of the way we live our lives. In a series of events and hands-on demonstrations at Cheltenham Science Festival 2008, we want to strengthen the Festival's programme by adding an EPSRC themed strand to share the passion we have for these subjects with a general audience, to demonstrate some of the ways science and technology are utilised every day, and to explore some new areas of research / such as the commercialisation of rapid prototyping and the use of robotics / whose applications may eventually also become part of our everyday experience. Using talks, chaired audience discussions, and live workshops and demonstrations, we will enable a range of publics (reaching up to 4,500 adults and children directly) to learn about the latest scientific research from research scientists, and to debate the complex ethical and moral issues they raise. The events will incorporate a substantial amount of informal audience participation, and will be targeted at different age groups. The events will build on established Cheltenham Science Festival formats, developed and refined across the past seven years and recognised nationally as a very successful model for public engagement. Suitable commercial sponsors for 'engineering' events are difficult to secure, so additional funding will enable us to programme events we would not otherwise be able to do. Furthermore, always keen to experiment, we will also take this opportunity to explore more ambitious and creative 'hands-on' methods of public engagement, such as an interactive Early Man Settlement in the Festival venue. The Festival is committed to continually improving its programme and feedback from the 2007 evaluation suggested it should feature more speakers from engineering and the physical sciences in 2008. In the PI's role on the Advisory Group, he is dedicated to leading this initiative, through this project and the funding bid.For the other EPSRC researchers involved in this project, participation in such a high-profile and popular Festival (which attracts 26,000 visitors and over 300,000 worth of national press coverage each year) will enable them to engage with a large, varied, and non-specialist audience. The experience speakers have at Cheltenham is generally very positive and many comments are received about the quality of the questions the audience ask, the professionalism of the staff and the excellent networking opportunities available (there are 300 guest speakers across 5 days).


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Description An approach to developing the content and programming for science festivals.
Exploitation Route The importance of hands-on events for creating engaging events.
Sectors Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description Influenced the running and content of Cheltenham Science Festival 2008 and subsequent festivals.
First Year Of Impact 2008
Sector Education,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Cheltenham Festivals 
Organisation Cheltenham Festivals
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2008