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Science in the City Programme Launched

Sixteen more days to the pan-European Researchers’ Night — Science in the City — being held on Friday 27th September. The science and art festival that brings these together for everyone to enjoy, showing how science is fun and relevant to our everyday lives. From 6 pm onwards, a number of young scientists, researchers and artists will be welcoming the public to a festive evening that will include music, demonstrations, debates, scientific cafes, hands-on experiments, street art, exhibitions, films, children’s shows and many interactive activities.

The full programme was presented today to the news media and festival contributors by the consortium led by the University of Malta Research Trust (RIDT) and the Malta Chamber of Scientists.

The activities will be held at selected locations and venues in Valletta, running from the Upper Barrakka, Castille and St James Cavalier, down both Republic Street and Merchant Street to St George’s Square and the Old Market Square, respectively.

“Science in the City aims to create curiosity towards science, innovation and new technology,” said Professor Alex Felice, the Project Coordinator. “We would like to show the public that there is a fair amount of high quality research happening in Malta. We have very valid research projects going on at our University. Science in the City is bringing the researchers closer to the public and highlighting how Maltese society is benefiting from the results of their research and scientific work.”

Wilfred Kenely, Chief Executive of the Research Trust, said: “Science in the City is also serving as a platform for the University’s Research Trust. The Trust was set up to encourage investment in research and development, on a national level by attracting additional funds from both private and corporate bodies. We believe that ‘research’ can be added to the list of good causes that deserve our support for the successful future of our country.”

The Festival
Dr Edward Duca, Project Manager of Science in the City, gave an overview of this year’s programme. “On entering Valletta from City Gate, the EU Corner set up by the Malta EU Steering and Action Committee (MEUSAC) will be filled with scientists explaining how the earth moves by getting kids to shake the ground and a Malta custom-built Formula-style racing car will greet car enthusiasts,” introduced Dr Duca. Research and innovation in the EU will be brought to life.

Conrad Attard, Logistics Manager and Technology Coordinator of Science in the City, commented “if you’re feeling lost with all the events we’re organising just visit the various i-points and speak to our young scientists who are there to help you out.” Student groups namely S-Cubed, MMSA, MADS, ICTSA, UESA, SACES and IEEE will be giving numerous demonstrations at various places in St John’s Street, Republic Street and opposite the Law Courts. A special area will be dedicated to technology – TechLab, which will give a taste of the science behind the technology.

Science in the City will premiere a 3D architectural light show on the facade of Auberge de Castille. Entitled VRBE NOVA, a collaborative project between Valletta 18 Foundation, Notte Bianca and Science in the City. It is coordinated by the musician and composer Ruben Zahra. The show combines choral performances by singers from around Europe, all being beamed simultaneously. For these projections, Ruben Zahra worked with a team on a computer programme that interprets music into abstract art. The six-minute show is captivating and beautiful. It starts at 8 pm and will be repeated every 30 minutes till 11 pm.

At the Upper Barrakka Gardens, visitors can join Lyanne Mifsud’s interesting interactive installation ‘Light up my house’. A set of six foot high ‘humanized fruit flies’ by Liliana Fleri Soler will be exhibited, while Cocktail James will run a science themed bar for those who would like to grab a molecular drink or food, and enjoy the view and artworks.

St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity will house a number of activities. The exhibition Will love tear us apart – a world first, curated by Rachel Formosa; a recital-dialogue between Music and Technology conducted by pianist Tricia Dawn Williams and electronic musician Giogio Nottoli; and a tv documentary series on the amazing stories and bizarre animal behavior. Malta’s very first science TV documentary, produced by Where’s Everybody, will take visitors on a journey into Malta’s best kept secrets: Maltese researchers.

Merchant Street will be full of activities for children and adults. At Palazzo Parisio (Ministry for Foreign Affairs) there will be a treasure hunt by 5¼ Games, a science play and other fun activities for children of all ages. At the Auberge d’Italie, The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) will be exhibiting an ‘infectious’ exhibition. Scientist and artist Ira Melkonyan will present rubberbodies collective’ performance, “Grandma, Temi and the Crimean Fever” at Palazzo Castellania (Ministry of Health).

Merchant Street will also stage impressive science-based street art installations. These include the ‘Popcorn’ Public Artwork Project by Rune Bo Jakobsen with a ‘popmachine’ giving out free popcorn, a 10 foot tall sculpture of a butterfly by Stiefnu Debattista, aided by entomologist Dr David Mifsud, and ecological street furniture by Sarah Maria Scicluna with the advice of Dr Sandro Lanfranco. The artists and scientists will be on hand to chat about these pieces. At the Old Market Square, comedians will perform science stand-up comedy for adults at the City Pro Café. In Strait Street, artist Xaxa Calleja presents a powerful series of paintings exploring the human form as transmogrified in trees at The Splendid.

St George’s Square will host Science: Up Close and Personnel — an event with kids’ quizzes, talks, animators and a spectacular dance show put up by the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST). Accompanying music shall be provided by the “Valletta Ensemble”. Families will be also treated to a science-inspired carnival parade of Maskri Grotteski starting at 7pm from Castille Square to St George’s Square.

Science in the House will showcase local research. It has been set up in the House of Representatives under the auspices of the Office of the Speaker. It will provide a unique opportunity for members of parliament and the public to meet and learn about research being conducted by Maltese scientists and how it might be helpful to society at large.

Science in the City is an opportunity for those who always had a nagging question about science but never asked it. Researchers from fields as diverse as neuroscience to botany will be present at different venues to talk about the science behind the activities. At Xjenza fuq Galletta, hosted by the King’s Own Band Club, visitors can pop in and chat about a project or research over a drink and some nibbles. The event is organised by Dr Pierre Schembri Wismayer and Lexy Muscat. While at the the La Vallette Band Club, researchers Gianluca Valentino and Rosalin Bonetta will deliver a Malta Café Scientifique talk on proteins and particle accelerators. The National Museum of Archaeology will be running a series of talks by Malta’s leading archeologists from University and Heritage Malta — a night at the museum.

The programme can be downloaded from www.scienceinthecity.org.mt or festival updates followed on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/ScienceInTheCityMalta

The “Researchers’ Night - Science in the City” festival is organised by a consortium of national organisations that is led by the University of Malta Research Trust, and the Malta Chamber of Scientists. The partners are MCST, Where’s Everybody Ltd, Valletta Local Council, MEUSAC, the Public Broadcasting Services Ltd, MCAST, iCreatemotion, the EC Representation in Malta, the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, Notte Bianca, Valletta 2018 Foundation, Malta Chamber of Pharmacists, King's Own Philharmonic Society and St James Cavalier. The project is supported by the Parliamentary Secretariat for Research, Innovation, Youth and Sports, Vodafone and Microsoft Innovation Centre.

The festival is co-funded by a competitive award from the EU’s FP7 Programme and the Malta Arts Fund.