Oxford Brookes Science Bazaar goes beyond!

Oxford Brookes Science Bazaar goes beyond!

Last Saturday saw more than 400 families from across Oxfordshire get creative at our first virtual Oxford Brookes Science Bazaar.

Anna Nekaris, Professor in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University, and co-organiser of this year’s Brookes Beyond Science Bazaar, writes:

Oxford Brookes Science Bazaar, now in its 13th year, featured over 100 science activities and games, including 17 live sessions. All have been designed to enable children and young people to enjoy science in its widest possible sense from home during lockdown.

The vast majority of activities are nOw available online, so if you're in need of inspiration for half-term or homeschooling, then do check out the Science Bazaar website.

From hands-on activities and workshops to games, videos and podcasts, there’s something for everyone. Highlights include a high-energy session of Science Dance Zumba, healthy eating with Mission Nutrition, and playing Sustainopoly, a board game designed by our Environmental Sciences students. There’s also the chance to explore the world under a microscope, meet jungle animals, learn how our brains work and discover the chemistry of writing, to name just a few things.

During the event on Saturday, the bright Sparks Science show and Electric Racing Cars were some of the biggest live attractions. Younger children were thrilled too by a virtual tour of Crocodiles of the World and an animal training session from zookeepers at Shaldon Wildlife Trust. Older children enjoyed a series of talks on Gender and AI (artificial intelligence), and a podcast on sustainable packaging.

Kids (and their parents) also got the chance to build and race their own balloon-powered rocket cars. Before the Bazaar, around 1,000 kits were distributed via schools to local children. On Saturday our rocket car makers were guided through the process of making and racing their rocket cars and they shared their experiences using #brookessciencebazaar. As one mum put it, “It was so nice to do something a bit different today to keep him engaged in home learning and having an activity which is a bit more hands on."

Do you know of any budding science researchers? Alongside the Bazaar we’re running a research competition that asks young people aged 5-18 what science idea they’d most love to research. Winners in younger age groups will enjoy a personalised online tour of the Oxford Brookes Health and Life Sciences laboratories while older age group winners will have an informal mentoring session with one of our researchers in Health and Life Sciences. With a closing date of 1 March, full details of My Bazaar Research Competition are on the website.

I’m a passionate believer in encouraging kids from an early age to love the fun and diversity of science - taking it out of the lab and into the real world. In my own work with Critically Endangered primates, sharing with younger audiences how we are making a real difference is vital. I was thrilled to be interviewed for a piece in National Geographic Kids magazine last year on loris venom and on how the wildlife bridges that we have installed in the Javan rainforest are helping the slow loris to survive.

The Science Bazaar is always a highlight at Oxford Brookes. This year, it’s especially satisfying that these activities are available beyond the Bazaar, to entertain and engage children at this difficult time. I like to think we are helping to plant a seed that will grow into a lifelong fascination for how science shapes our world, and the role we can all play in making a difference.

Science Bazaar activities and resources

This article was originally published in the Oxford Mail.