NI Science Festival

Four workshops will take place on the 16/17 & 23/34 February based around “Our Resourceful Ocean”. Join one of our workshops such as “Amazing Seaweed: Edible Water Bottles”, “Tidal Energy: Powering our homes”, “Salt Car Track: An Alternative Fuel” and “Play Your Cards Right”. Our Seal Rescue Workshop will also be completed during NI Science Festival – A course on how to spot, assist and deliver injured seals to our rescue centre.

“Our Resourceful Ocean”

The ocean is undoubtedly a formidable presence on earth.  Covering over 70% of the planet and so deep, the highest mountain peaks can be submerged beneath its waves.  Life proliferated first within our oceans it and has a diversity of ecosystems, habitats, and organisms unrivalled by anything on land.

Our ocean has an extraordinary capacity to store energy, drive our climate and provides us with life giving oxygen.  However, artificial climate change through industrialisation, plastic pollution and human intervention are all taking its toll.

At Exploris we want to show our visitors how the ocean can provide possible solutions to many of the problems we’re facing today such as climate change and pollution caused by plastics.

Amazing seaweed: Edible water bottles

Plastic pollution is has become a major topic for the media in very recent years. The 1st plastics were invented over 100 years ago and became a household material in the latter half of last century being used as packaging for hundreds of items.  Plastics come in a variety of forms and their resistance to degradation makes them extremely useful in different applications.  However this persistence is now causing havoc to our natural environment.  Today’s consumer lifestyle has increased our dependence on plastic and billions of tonnes of plastics are thrown away each year and roughly 8 tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans.  Current trends show that by 2050 that there could be more pieces of plastic in our ocean than there are fish.

Plastic bottles are one of the most common items found washed up on our beaches.  13 billion bottles are produced each year. While recycling allows us to repurpose these bottles much of this still end in landfill.

What if there was another way of packaging water? Seaweed is common all around the world, it grows like plants in shallow water photosynthesizing and absorbing nutrients from the water.  It has a number of industrial applications. We’re going to take a look at a unique application that could make the water bottle obsolete.

Tidal energy: Powering our homes

Electricity is a vital commodity in our homes, which many of us around the world take for granted.  In 2017 only a quarter of all electricity produced in the UK came from a renewable source (either wind solar or hydroelectric) and nearly half of our electricity is still generated from the burning of fossil fuel.

Tidal currents provide a unique opportunity to generate significant quantities of energy and in 2008 a commercial scale tidal generator was installed in the entrance way to Strangford lough taking advantage of the strong tidal race that pours through the narrow channel between the villages of Strangford and Portaferry.  It was connected to the National grid and provided enough energy to power over 1500 homes.

Enjoy our interactive experiment showing the principle of tidal electric generation and take the opportunity to discuss this as a viable means of energy

Salt Car GP: An alternative fuel

Trains, planes and automobiles are an essential part of daily life. Either for commuting, movement of supplies or jetting off on your next vacation transportation is a linchpin of modern society.  But modern transport is a major contributor to global climate change.  The pursuit of alternative fuel sources it now a serious topic looking at ways to reducing carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants

Discover what scientists are doing to create alternative fuels and have fun racing a miniature fuel cell car around our race track.

“Play your cards right”

Sharks have been around for over 400million years and have remained pretty much the same over the last 40 million years.  They are remarkable predators adapting to nearly every habitat within our oceans.  Most recent discoveries are of sharks surviving in fresh water and even sharks with omnivorous diets.  Unfortunately sharks have a poor representation as deadly killers in our oceans.  TV, film and the media have taken sharks and demonized them as something to be feared.

Play our own version of “play your cards right” and discover how deadly sharks are against other animals found around the world.  Hopefully we aim to change your opinion of sharks from one of fear to reverence

For more details on the NI Science Festival including their programme of events visit: www.nisciencefestival.com

Please note workshops will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Normal admission charges apply – pre-book online for discount | Last admission 4pm

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