Edinburgh Science Festival: mother hopes girls get involved

Four-year-old Ellie helps launch the 2018 Edinburgh International Science Festival. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Four-year-old Ellie helps launch the 2018 Edinburgh International Science Festival. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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White lab coats, dodgy looking eye wear and equations that might even stump Einstein.

People’s perception of what science is really all about often restricts it to an unfairly stuffy and boring topic that anyone outside the field would struggle to understand.

It’s also heavily dominated by men.

As recently as last year, only 24 per cent of the people working in STEM (Science, Techonology, Engineering and Maths) industries were women.

On the positive side of the atom, that’s an increase of more than 61,000 from 2016.

It is a growing trend parents like Deborah Dunlop are keen to see continue.

“I think it’s really good for girls to be involved in science,” she said at the launch of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival which gets under way today.

“It’s the 21st century, there should be every opportunity for girls to be as interested in science as boys are.”

Holding the hand of fouryear-old Ellie, mum Deborah, is looking forward to enjoying the event as much as her child.

As a family, she hopes some of what will be on show may go on potentially sparking her young daughter’s curiosity for the subject early on.

Yesterday’s launch of the festival marks the 30th year of the world renowned event and its Creative director, Amanda 
Tyndall says a lot of work has gone into ensuring the diversity of the spectacle.

She said: “We’ve done a lot more for more diverse audiences. We really believe that science is for all and it’s at the heart of so many of the big issues that face us as a society that we want to encourage everybody from cradle to grave to get into it.”

As part of Scotland’s Year of Young People, one of the many elements involved in the festival is oil giant Shell’s annual eco-marathon which will see students from across the country and Europe compete to build the most energy efficient vehicle.

Strathclyde University Student, Robert Hammel said: “A lot of students these days are learning very theoretical knowledge so to actually have a chance to go down to the lab and manufacture and test something by yourself, it really just brings it to life and develops a passion within people to go on and learn more. It gets people excited about engineering and that’s what it’s all about.”

There’s also plenty for the adults to get involved with as Amanda explained: “We use a science by stealth 
programming approach. We programme around things that are relevant to people like food and drink, music and sociable nights out that just so happen to have a bit of science in 
them.”

Even if you don’t know your Hydrogen from your Helium, the event is aimed at everyone.

Mum Deborah said: “I’m not really clued up a lot on science.

“I think it will be quite exciting for me as well as the kids to be involved, and be able to interact with them and do something together as a family.”

Summerhall, the National Museum, City Art Centre, Edinburgh Zoo, and Dynamic Earth are among just some of the venues involved in helping to facilitate events at this year’s festival.

For a full list of all the events taking place head to www.sciencefestival.co.uk