Misadventures in Wonderland: Edinburgh International Science Festival
Our intrepid columnist Alice makes slime, touches a heart and makes giant bubbles
This article is from 2014.
What is the Science Festival?
It's packed full of activities to learn about our bodies. I went to the City Art Centre but there's other bits scattered about. It's, and I'm sorry if this causes offence, a lot more glossy than I thought it would be. It was a real life version of an advert for modern alternative learning in the future.
Is it for adults?
Not even remotely. There is nothing for adults there and you're not even allowed in without a kid. The chairs are small, the aprons are small, the people sitting around you are small. In my first challenge (to try out different smells and tastes) I sat next to some smart-mouthed kid who kept showing off that he'd eaten Starburst before. I bit my tongue (I've done a lot more cooler stuff than that) as there were already a lot of confused parents looking at me while I sat in amongst 3ft-ers like I was in an Adam Sandler film.
What activities are there?
There's a ‘blood bar’, which wasn't what you'd think it was. There was a charismatic man speaking to the kids. I wonder how well he does with women? Sure, working with kids gets you a lot of female respect but what if your enhanced-disclosure job was to show children vats of horse blood? I did get to touch a heart, which was a first, even if was from a sheep. You can make your own slime and pelt it at a giant target on the wall, you can make your own perfume, you can follow a giant metaphorical turd around the digestive system and get gristle out of a dummy in a far-too-realistic hospital setting. I was even surprised that the doctor conducting the operations was actually a drama student. She'll get full marks no doubt, or at least a job in Casualty if that still exists. Got to take a surgical mask home too. Couldn't have hoped for better.
What was the best thing there?
My favourite was probably also the cheapest sub-event to produce: giant bubble making. 2D shapes made out of pipe-cleaners on sticks and dipped in Ikea tubs full of Fairy Liquid mixed with water. Strangely this was so therapeutic, I now understand why private rehabs are so expensive.
So why should, we, the adults, go?
Because you live for your kids, that's what you chose for yourself. I saw, probably, a 45 mile queue to get into the zoo during the Easter holidays – this is another option to that hell. Think about all the things you had to do as a child, and now think about all the things I just told you. I can't help but think that maybe, if I had got to perform key-hole surgery on a red pepper wedged in a fake man's knee when I was eight, I might've stuck in school to do it again for real one day.
Edinburgh International Science Festival, various venues until Sun 20 Apr.