• Potteries Science Festival

  • Mitchell Arts Centre

  • Potteries Science Festival

  • Burslem School of Art

  • Potteries Science Festival

  • Staffordshire University

  • Potteries Science Festival

  • Potteries Museum and Art Gallery

3rd & 4th July, 2017

Our Vision

Calling people of all ages: the Potteries Science Festival is a collaboration between science enthusiasts and professionals looking to bring a WOW! factor to Stoke-on-Trent’s cultural landscape. We will showcase STEAM (science-technology-engineering-art-mathematics-medicine) events in the city and promote the appreciation of the sciences among learners of all backgrounds.

Our mission is to raise the aspirations and ambitions of our community, to inspire our children to enjoy their studies and to encourage the pursuit of ambitious STEAM careers in local schools.

This event is taking place in support of the SOS mental health support group which seeks to raise awareness of suicide among all communities including young people.


More information » « Less information


  • We Are The Alchemists

    Mitchell Arts Centre Evening Event


    Alchemy is our theme for the evening: producing shiny new knowledge from within our messy world using paper and a pen. How do people do it?

    Scientific progress is probably fastest right now in the science of DNA where a global revolution is underway. There is still much we do not know, but advances in DNA science are changing everything, from medicine to forensic science, archeology, to anthropology and the understanding of our own pre-history. You name it, biology is changing so fast that there are no textbooks.

    So we now know about the close links between neanderthals and modern humans, to take one example, and we can watch antibiotic resistance evolve in real time.

    This is the kind of progress we are seeing, but is it all for the good?

    It can be: humans are re-engineering viruses, like measles, to fight cancer but, conversely, some governments are keen to weaponise DNA science.

    Our speakers will talk about all this and more. They'll discuss gambling, swearing, nanorobots and computer graphics. They'll use DNA analysis to show just how diverse a community of people we are, including the city of Stoke, but also how globally connected we are.

    Do come and ask a tough question, but please keep the heckles clean. We’ll be giving out free beer to help loosen the tongue.

    We Are The Alchemists

    Programme - 7pm onwards

    Psychology - Why do we swear?
    Dr Richard Stephens (Keele University)

    Mathematics - Gambling: don't do it!
    Prof Emma McCoy (Imperial College London)

    NanoRobotics - Surgeons in miniature
    Dr Sabine Hauert (Bristol University)

    Engineering - Virtual Reality in the real world
    Dr Alistair Revell (University of Manchester)

    DNA - Engineering DNA, playing God?
    Prof Justin Meyer (University of California)

    DNA - Watching DNA change: deadly evolution in the hospital
    Dr Jessica Blair (Birmingham University)

    DNA - Just how similar are we? The genealogy of Stoke-on-Trent
    Dr David Nicholson (Living DNA)

    DNA keynote talk: DNA in forensic science, reliable?
    Michael Mansfield QC

    Imaging - Seeing inside biology
    Professor Melissa Matther (Keele University)

    Imaging - Seeing inside the brain: Parkinson's disease up close
    Dr Paul Roach (Loughborough University)

    Imaging keynote talk: CGI: digitising George Clooney
    Kate Bergel (Framestore)
  • STEM Sells

    Undergraduate competition

    STEM Sells

    STEM Sells grand champion

    Do we have the next Brian Cox in our midst? Science Talks is a competition to find the most engaging and enthralling speaker from our local universities. Our competitors have been tasked with shining a light on amazing areas of Science to an audience of local school students.

    The winners from two heats will go forward to the final and will be crowned Science Talks grand champion.

  • Competitions


    Photography Competition

    Competition idea:
    Time-lapse photography using a mobile phone can be a nice way of illustrating scientific ideas: by taking multiple images and overlaying them, we can visualise how fast-moving objects change.

    Like here where, as the first picture shows, when a ball moves through the air pulled by Earth’s gravity it makes a curve that closely resembles the infamous quadratic equation!

    This shape, known as a parabola, has been known for centuries but only recently did Hawkeye make use of parabolae to help umpires in tennis and cricket.

    The second picture shows how a bouncing ball forms two different parabolae, one before and one after the bounce.

    To make an LBW decision in cricket, Hawkeye needs to use a very accurate representation of the bouncing ball that can be moving not far short of 100mph.

    Maybe you can take a time-lapse image of a water droplet hitting a sink full of water or of someone taking a penalty at a local football match?

    Scientific researchers have used the same idea to track a slow-moving object, tar in this case.

    The video shows a falling droplet of tar caught on camera that was put into position in 1944. Given our forthcoming competition closing date, we don’t recommend anyone performs this experiment.

    And ok, gravity doesn’t really pull, it’s a spacetime curvature geometric geodesic thing, but the term "pull" will do for now.
  • Workshops

    Royal Institution Masterclasses

    Royal Institution Masterclasses

    Blueprint Robotics, Dr Ben Dornan of the Royal Institution and Professor Robert Beardmore of the University of Exeter will be hosting coding events in the month of June at Stoke Sixth Form College.

    Students will be able to write Python codes to control a robot and flying drones. They’ll also have the chance to design and make their own robot in the Spode maker studio that Blueprint Robotics and the University of Exeter cohabit.

  • STEM Workshop

    Staffordshire University Science Centre, Stoke
    STEM Worskhop
    All Stoke-on-Trent schools will each receive personalised invitations through their Higher Horizons link or Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College.

    STEM Workshop

    A hands on opportunity to see how scientists operate and the diverse nature of STEM education pathways. There will be over 10 workshops running concurrently, including guided journeys into space, using coding to solve everyday problems, visits to a murder seen, and birthing robots! …… plus much more.

    Event Details

    10.00 – 15.00 3rd July
    Staffordshire University Science Centre / Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College / Keele University

  • Secondary school

    STEAM careers fair and workshops
    BSOA, Burslem

    Download Programme

    Contact for further details.

    Secondary school

    STEAM careers fair and workshops

    A series of talks and careers fair for students in year 10 who will explore the opportunities for STEAM careers. We have speakers from engineering companies, robotics start-ups, biotechnology industry, pharmaceutical industry and many more. There will be a series of hands on workshops for students including crash test physics, robotics workshops and talks on rocket science, being a pharmacist as well as Higher Horizons sessions from academics on ‘Flies and sticky tape’, Forensic science and the Physics of flight.

  • STEM Expo

    Staffordshire University Science Centre, Stoke

    STEM Expo

    An opportunity for learners and the wider community to meet active scientists from the Potteries and afar. It’s a chance to chat, inspire and celebrate our combined passion for STEM, hopefully providing a stimulus for our future scientists, encouraging them to purse their dream STEM career.

    Event Details

    12.00 – 15.00 3rd July
    Staffordshire University Science Centre atrium and ground floor science laboratories.

  • Primary School

    BSOA, Burslem

    Download Programme

    Primary School workshops

    A series of workshops for all of our budding Little Einstein’s ready to get their hands dirty and learn about the world around them. We have sessions where children will test for vitamin C, create marble rollercoasters, learn the basics of coding, extract DNA and lots of other fun activities.

    Keele Primary Rocket Science day

    A hands on day of Rocket Science for Primary school students to attend contact Kris via email at

    Download Programme
Mitchell Arts Centre

Evening Event

Scientists from Stoke to San Diego are coming to talk forensics, DNA, genealogy and the global human family, climate change, space exploration, CGI and sci-fi. We'll be understanding how Darwins' theory of evolution can explain hospital deaths and looking at the pitfalls of genetic material as an evidentiary tool in law.

There will be answers to questions you didn't even know existed, like why do we swear? How do you make a virus? Isn't that playing God? Just how do you digitise George Clooney? Why do we gamble when the game's rigged against us? Oh yes, NASA have been invited and there’s free beer. Interested?

Mitchell Arts Centre
Monday 3rd July, 19:00-22:00

More information
Download Poster

  • Alistari Revell
    From research positions in Poitiers and California, Alistair came to Manchester to research computational fluid dynamics: the tool F1 engineers use to design cars. He now applies these ideas to understanding blood flow inside the human body.
  • Justin Meyer
    Cornell-educated, Justin is an evolutionary biologist who wants to know how viruses can evolve enough to jump species. What DNA changes allow small viruses to make such huge jumps? He exploits ideas from DNA engineering to understand how evolution works.
  • Richard Stephens
    Richard a psychologist, author of popular psychology book `Black Sheep: The Hidden Benefits of Being Bad' and winner of the Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize 2014. You can read his theories on swearing here.
  • Emma McCoy
    Former Head of Mathematics at Imperial College, Emma is a statistician who has worked on improving traffic flow and how economic deprivation can affect road casualties among children. She works closely with the Royal Institution to promote the joys of statistics among young learners.
  • Sabine Hauert
    Sabine researches robots, both big and small. She has worked in university labs from Switzerland to Boston seeking improvements to cancer treatments using nanobots. Her website showcases a diverse range of engineering topics and advocates public and scientists alike to engage more with the world of Artifical Intelligence.
  • Jessica Blair
    An Oxford-educated microbiologist who recently appeared on BBC4's "Michael Mosley v. The Superbugs", Jessica uses tools from computational biology to understand how fast drug-resistance evolution can occur in patients suffering from sepsis, a potentially lethal response of the body to infection.
  • David Nicholson
    David is Managing Director of Living DNA, a DNA-analysis company with a passion for showing individuals just how connected each of us is to everyone else in the world - showing, in essence, that we humans are really just one big family.
  • Michael Mansfield QC
    Keele University-educated, Michael is one of Britains foremost legal minds and political campaigners of the last three decades who (noting the Wellcome Trust recently created a database of 100,000 human genomes) opposes government-controlled databases of human DNA. Many articles online describe his work, here is one.
  • Melissa Matther
    An Ozzie and recent awardee of a £2M European research award said to identify those in the Champions League of European science, Stoke-based Melissa researches high resolution 3d imaging for medical purposes at Stoke University Hospital. She works with the UK's engineering research council to identify electrical and acoustic properties of tissue to be used in the design of new diagnostic devices for human diseases.
  • Paul Roach
    A research chemist, Paul used to work at Keele University before moving to Loughborough University to engineer materials with novel properties that can be used to control biology. His work provided some of the images used as part of the publicity for this event and more of his stunning research images can be seen here.
  • Kate Bergel/Framestore
    Kate Bergel (@GirlWhoCodes) is a Framestore RnD developer who studied Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of York who now brings films like The Martian and Gravity to cinema screens. Kate will be in Hanley talking about her work in the film industry, what is needed to get into a career in CGI and what does it look and feel like when you get there?


Science Photographer
Science Writer
Scientists of the Year
School Engineer
Design a Robot


  • Monday 3rd of July

    Main Events

    10:00 – 16:00   STEM EXPO and Workshops – Staffordshire University Science Centre, Stoke
    • STEM Expo event involving local companies, scientists and the Royal Institution
    • Y10 career workshops in conjunction with Higher Horizons
    • Talks from world-leading academics
    • Hands-on demos from scientists and engineers
    • Robot coding masterclasses from Stoke-based startup, Blueprint Robotics
    19:00 – 22:000   The Potteries Science Festival (Evening Event) – Mitchell Arts Centre, Hanley
    • Talks from pioneers in their fields, including Kate Bergel from Framestore, makers of the films Gravity and The Martian, and leading barrister Michael Mansfield QC
    • Prize giving and launch of the SEP
    Click here to join us

    BSOA Events

    10:00 – 16:00   Primary STEM Workshops – BSOA, Burslem
    • STEM Workshops
    • Science Talks
    • Primary and Secondary engagement activities
  • Tuesday 4rd of July

    Main Events

    12:00 – 15:00   Primary Expo – Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Hanley
    • Four interactive workshops for local Year 6 students. including:
    • Keele Stardome
    • Remote Robot Coding
    • 3D printing and engineering
    • A conductive orchestra

    BSOA Events

    10:00 – 16:00   Y10 and Y12 STEM Workshops, Careers fair, and talks – BSOA, Burslem
    • Careers fair
    • Careers talks
    • Y10 workshops
    • Higher Horizons workshops
  • In School Events

    The first Potteries Science Festival is taking place on the 3rd and 4th July and we are asking schools to take time out of their normal curriculum to give students the opportunity to do some engaging investigations. Below is a short list of ideas to start your thinking on activities your students might do that are light on resources and cost, but feel free to get your partnerss being as creative and exciting as you can.

    Secondary investigations ideas:
    Investigating gels and nappies  // Testing hard and soft water using bubbles  // Investigating oil spills  // Film canister investigations

    And maybe if you’re thinking big… click here!

    Short simple primary investigation ideas

    The following are simple fun investigations aimed at getting students interested and engaged with the science around them. Most are very light on resources and preparation. They can be extended by asking students to think about what questions they have about it and whether they could answer them with a scientific experiment?

    Making string telephones  // Soap and surface tension  // Investigating oil spills  // Secret ink  // Upside down water trick  // Making CO2  // Bubble prints  // Making rainbows  // Tea bag rockets

Find Us

The festival events will run at the below locations.
Click the maps for further details.

Staffordshire University

Staffordshire University’s Science Centre
Stoke, ST4 2DE

Burslem School of Art

Burlslem, ST6 3EJ

Potteries Museum and Art Gallery

Hanley, ST1 3DW

Mitchell Arts Centre

Hanley, ST1 4HG


  • Straffordshire University

  • City of Stoke-On-Trent

  • Keele University

  • Higher Horizons

  • Sixth Form College

  • University of Exeter

  • Sascal

  • Wave maker

Contact Us

Please use the contact box below if you have general enquiries or would like to be involved or have any community event ideas for the festival.

  • Submit

For further details on specific events please contact:

BSOA Events
Steve Hall:
STEM EXPO and Workshop Event
Mark Parton:
Potteries Science Festival Evening Event
Ben McManus:
Robert Beardmore: