The Bristol Neuroscience Festival took place on 18th and 19th March 2016, to coincide with Brain Awareness Week. Celebrating all things ‘Neuroscience’, the event offered visitors a fantastic timetable of short talks, hands-on activities and an art exhibition. Volunteers from across the University and Hospitals took part with more than 150 staff and students helping out over the two days.
The Wills Great Hall was filled with hands on activities linked to current research, stands from local charities and funding organisations and a ‘knit-a-brain’ challenge. As in previous years the mind control games proved to be incredibly popular as were the dancing cockroach legs and brain hats. The knitting team also managed to complete their challenge with a beautiful knitted brain the result of many hundreds of contributor’s stitches.
Across in the reception rooms there were a series of 20-minute research talks delivered by Bristol academics across a broad range of topics from Neuroscience in Society to Memory and Dementia. These were also filmed and will be published soon on the Bristol Neuroscience website for anyone to access.
At-Bristol Science centre were also present for the two days of the festival with Alice Barber providing younger visitors with an opportunity to learn more about their brains during the ‘Brilliant Brains Show’. Art work was a major part of the festival. Kathryn Garner and David Turk organised a Brain Art competition (with support from the Alumni Foundation) receiving a fantastic collection of entries from primary and secondary school pupils including some stunning pieces of sculpture.
The winning entries and highly commended work was displayed at the festival in the Old Council Chamber and then at the Royal West of England Academy. In addition, there were more images gathered by University of Bristol researchers as part of the Sci Art competition as well as an exhibition of real brains (supported by the DANA foundation) illustrating how the structure of the brain changes across species.
As well as the festival activities in Wills Memorial Building, on Friday Night, there was also an associated plenary lecture held in the Victoria Rooms. This year the lecture was given by Professor Bruce Hood who talked about ‘The Domesticated Brain.’ He provided a fascinating insight into the modern brain and the challenges it faces in today’s environment. The festival continues to be extremely popular with local people.
More than 600 attended Prof. Hood’s lecture, and an estimated 2700 visited the main exhibition over the two days. This included around 1500 school children from Bristol and the surrounding area on the Friday. There were at least 200 people booked to attend all of the twenty short research talks in the Reception Room as well. Feedback from visitors was unanimously positive with the only criticism being that we were not open on Sunday too!
Organisers: Dr Emma Robinson and Dr David Turk
Steering Committee members: Kathryn Garner (Brian Art), Alex Thompson (Widening Participation and Schools Liaison), Lisa Haslock (Administration), Alice Baber (At Bristol, Brilliant Brains Show), Rachel Harris and Sofia Zaimidou (volunteers, social media, evaluation), Richard Apps (Talks programme), Dawn Davies (Knit a Neurone), Abigail Benn (Secondary school exhibits), Naomi Cave (Outreach, Evaluation), Ollie Daniels (Website and photos)