4th – 6th August Kew’s world-leading scientists bring their latest work out of the labs and into the Gardens. Don your lab coat and dig out your goggles for this year’s Science Festival at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. After a hugely successful first year in August 2016, the festival is back for three days of exciting activities, workshops and tours that will inspire children and adults alike, celebrating the incredible discoveries and pioneering work of Kew scientists.
With over 200 scientists and work spanning 110 countries, Kew is a global leader in plant and fungal science; from carrying out exciting plant discovery expeditions in Mozambique, to vital conservation work in the biodiversity hotspot Madagascar, to unearthing the fundamental impact of plants on our daily lives. This year’s scientific extravaganza will not only focus on the vital importance of conserving the world’s plant biodiversity, but will bring to life, for all ages, the crucial value of plant and fungal science.
Professor Kathy Willis, Director of Science, says ‘The Science Festival is our chance to lift the lid on some of Kew’s extraordinary science in a fun and interactive way. We also hope to inspire youngsters to consider studying and building a career in science and conservation. Above all, we want visitors young and old to have fun and enjoy a day in the Gardens trying out all the exciting activities on offer.’
Housed within a huge marquee in front of the majestic Kew Palace, families can expect a vast array of different activity stations run by Kew scientists themselves. From conserving the world’s seeds to identifying and saving exotic endangered plants, visitors will be able to get stuck into some of the ground-breaking science work that takes place behind the scenes at Kew.
During the festival, visitors will be able to try out a number of hands-on experiments including extracting DNA from vegetables, analysing plant genomes and dissecting plants to find out how they work. Elsewhere, kids and adults will be able to get to grips with microscopes and discover amazing ‘microscopic gardens’ by looking at close-up views of plants and their structures. The festival will also bring to life the mysterious kingdom of fungi and its relationship with plants and the world around us, with the help of Kew’s incredible team of mycologists.
Families can also learn about plant specimen preservation and create beautiful take-home mementos at the plant pressing workshop, or even try their hand at botanical art at the plant illustrations stall. Kew’s own ‘identification station’ will offer the chance to identify species by their weird and wonderful structures, while children will also delight in spotting Charles Darwin and other characters who’ll be roaming the Gardens offering fun and fascinating scientific insights.
The festival will also offer the chance to go behind the scenes at Kew with tours of Kew’s Tropical Nursery which houses a dizzying array of exotic and rare plant species. There will also be tours of Kew’s awe-inspiring Herbarium where around 7 million plant specimens are preserved, as well as the Fungarium which houses dried over 1,250,000 Fungi specimens including samples collected by the likes of Darwin.
Wakehurst, Kew’s botanic garden in Sussex, will also be hosting its very own Science Festival on 22-23 July. Visitors to the country estate will enjoy getting stuck into some wild science out in the gardens and also will get the chance to meet the scientists behind the world’s largest wild plant seed bank, the Millennium Seed Bank, which is housed at Wakehurst.