Iris Festival of Ancient and Modern Science

Tags: Festival, Ancient science, Astronomy, Medicine

On Tuesday 7th February the Iris Classics Centre at Cheney ran its biggest ever event, the Festival of Ancient and Modern Science. 

This event was a celebration of ancient and modern science, and the many rich connections between the two. Areas of the school were themed on different areas of scientific understanding, with a very wide range of organisations offering activities, stalls and events which explore ancient and modern connections. 

Thirty-eight different organisations were invited to attend and run stalls and activities exploring early and modern science. These included organisations such as the Oxford Department of Genetics who were exploring the development of embryos, and referenced Aristotle in their activities. They brought, amongst other things, a 3D printer which printed hearts! The Oxford Department of Oncology explored attitudes towards cancer through the ages, and Science Oxford put on a Medical Marvels workshop where visitors were able to choose how to treat casualties from a range of ancient and modern treatments! Birmingham University put on an astonishing Antikythera Mechanism exhibition, complete with models created by Dave Goodchild. The Department of Physics explored theories about the universe.

There was also an outdoor bird demonstration with the Edwards Grey Institute of Ornithology, and stargazing with Professor Allan Chapman. 

Year 9 Classical Civilisation Students from Cheney created a walk through Pompeii exhibition, complete with an erupting volcano stall at the end, run by the Department of Earth Sciences! Year 8 Beginners Latin students created activities and displays themed on the Presocratic Philosophers.

Alongside the activities, workshops and performances, the Festival was opened by Professor Robert Winston, followed by fascinating talks by Dr Kyle Grant, Dr Ben Kane on Archimedes and Ancient Weaponry, Professor Helen King on Hippocrates and Medicine, and finally Professor Anthony Grayling on the science of the Presocratic Philosophers. 

About seven hundred visitors came through the doors to enjoy the talks, activities, stalls and exhibitions, and nineteen school groups attended – a mixture of primary and secondary ages. 

We are very grateful indeed to everyone who supported and took part in any way, especially our amazing students; Oxford University, Brookes University and Birmingham University, for bringing exciting stalls and exhibitions; all the many other local organisations who ran stalls, and our brilliant speakers.