Tuesday 23 July 2024

Changemakers meet fast fashion and space junk at the Science in the City 2023 Festival

Artwork pictured above by Beatriz-Zamora-Aviles

On the 29th and 30th of September, the Science in the City Festival 2023 will descend upon Triton Fountain, Biskuttin Garden, and nearby theatres. The interactive stands will transform the street festival into a vibrant centre of science, experiments, and hands-on activities while the indoor performances in the Catholic Institute, Sala San Duminku, and Spazju Kreattiv will become hubs of creativity and exploration. Preceded by many pre-festival events, and post-festival content, this year promises five weeks of science and arts-filled adventure.

This year the festival is centred around the theme “Changemakers”, to encourage everyone to use research-based knowledge and creativity to tackle the political, social, environmental, and technical challenges we’re all being called upon to confront. Over the past 10 years, Science in the City (SitC) has transformed into Malta’s largest science and art festival. With a vision that merges science, art, and education, the festival now attracts 30,000 visitors yearly, boasts 750 volunteers including researchers, and dozens of artists, and collaborates with nearly 100 organisations.

This year’s activities are not only entertaining, but sensitive to the challenges we all face. In a statement to the press, Dr. Edward Duca, Coordinator of the festival explained, “This year we have stretched our street festival over two nights for our first time ever. We are also bringing in performances and exhibitions from London and Edinburgh, where I was trained. Street art on Space Debris, workshops on upcycling clothes, and VR of Malta’s famous hypogeum are all new attractions for people to enjoy!”.

Festival Manager, Karen Fiorini explains the idea of this year’s theme: “Each year the festival looks to make a difference in people’s lives. Encouraging our audiences to understand the relevance of scientific knowledge in making everyday decisions is a main goal. The activities focus on sharing research on anything from earthquakes to the planet, our health, or how best to navigate through the digital world. The Changemakers theme selected for this year’s event refers to this desire to see citizens want to make change and inspire others”.

Professor Alfred Vella, Rector of the University of Malta, focuses on the importance of science and technology as being the foundation upon which the country’s future is based. “Science, and the knowledge that it reveals, provides mankind with the tools to improve wellbeing and even save the planet from our excesses. This event brings science closer to citizens, this year, through art. I augur it will positively help to draw our students closer to the study of science”.

Minister for Education, Sport, Youth, Research, and Innovation Hon. Dr. Clifton Grima (in absentia) stressed the importance of STEAM subjects in education. “I am pleased that the Education Ministry has been continuously supporting this prestigious festival. Education is an integral part of our society and the direct involvement of student organisations in the festivals’ innovative activities highlights the importance of becoming a Changemaker. The Government is committed to see that schools provide a holistic education, engaging students in all aspects of our society”, said Hon. Dr Grima.

The Hon. Keith Azzopardi-Tanti (in absentia), Parliamentary Secretary of Youth, Research and Innovation, underlined the importance of sustainability and collaboration. “Malta, being a member state of the EU, has set the ball rolling to use research and innovation for a greener and more sustainable environment, meeting the targets of the European Green Deal by 2050. With various local schemes such as Fusion, and other EU funds such as Horizon Europe, Malta is making use of a collaborative effort by different stakeholders to introduce and implement projects in R&I for the common good, improving the quality of life of our citizens.”

During the press conference, it was unveiled that VR experiences, robotics, games, comics, and much more are coming to the festival. Duca announced an “electrifying lineup of events!” Jeremy Grech and seismologist Dr. Matthew Agius are teaming up to transport attendees to the captivating world of ancient Crete, where science clashes with mythology. Esplora Interactive Science Centre are presenting a mind-bending murder mystery, challenging people to put their investigative prowess to the test. Creatives Alex Weenink, Zofia Stelmaszczyk, and Dr Lorainne Portelli unveil “What We Wear,” shedding light on the hidden horrors of fast fashion and the untold stories behind each garment while providing workshops to help people upcycle their own clothes! And that’s not all! Birdlife Malta will be guiding people through an enchanting workshop, where they’ll be immersed in the fascinating world of birds to craft their very own comic story. The festival provides an extraordinary journey that fuses arts, science, and intrigue!

Science in the City is part of European Researchers’ Night, an EU-wide celebration. It is co-funded by the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions of the Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme (grant agreement No 101061120). It is recognized by Europe for Festivals and Festivals for Europe (EFFE).

The Science in the City consortium is led by the University of Malta and the Malta Chamber of Scientists, in partnership with the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation, Malta Enterprise, Qualia Analytics, Esplora, tech.mt, SEM, PBS, Spazju Kreattiv, Valletta Design Cluster, Valletta Cultural Agency, The Environment and Resources Authority, WasteServ, Heritage Malta, More or Less Theatre, the Arts Council Malta, Queen Mary University of London, St. Martin’s Institute, Green Pak, AquaBioTech, Impetus, MCAST, MED-WET, the Floriana Local Council and the European Parliament Office in Malta.

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