Science in the City (SitC) is Malta’s national Science & Arts Festival and makes part of the European Researchers’ Night (ERN) initiative. The SitC event aims to engage, empower and enable children and young adults to consider STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers.

The SitC consortium strives to involve the general public in this national event to discover different ways of experiencing scientific topics through various forms of arts. This year, the festival will be based around the theme ‘Taking Root’, which will expand on what we’ve been attempting to achieve in recent years—emphasising the importance of science and research to citizens, ultimately fostering engaged and responsible citizenship.

We are aiming to improve the  culture of creative and critical thinking in the Maltese islands, as well as in other countries. These abilities enable us to make deliberate and reflective changes in any field, from the arts and sciences to ethics, the environment, and politics.

Why is it important for society?

SitC has been known to showcase artworks based around research from fields such as engineering, social sciences, neuropsychology, inclusive economy, health, language and education. All these topics are vitally important for society because of their presence in our everyday life. For that reason it is important for citizens to understand the role that they can take in it.  

Scientific information is not always so easily accessible to everyone, the festival aims to communicate science in a straightforward and interactive manner for a broad audience. By reaching a diverse audience through the festival, we enhance the public’s awareness of socio-economic and scientific problems and how they can contribute to solving them.

Experiments with Virtual Realities

Furthermore, we address the need for younger generations to learn that science is an open door for everyone who is interested regardless of their gender, abilities, social status and background. 

What are the overall objectives?

1. To show how science is part of everyday life and that researchers are people who work toward having a positive impact on daily life.

2. To demonstrate that science can be fun, interesting and exciting and can lead to rewarding career opportunities.

3. To develop art inspired by a scientific concept or idea, especially local science. 

4. To create interactive science-inspired arts projects which engage citizens and communities.

5. To have both a physical platform in Valletta as well as an online presence during the festival. 

Activities from our past events 

Several activities were organised during the previous editions of SitC. There were some pre-festival activities (8 in the 2021 Festival), mostly pre-festival workshops like CineXjenza: Sharklab (during which CineXjenza reveals the secrets of sharks and debunked commonly held myths with short clips from Sharklab Malta) or Create Your Own Game: MissinTech Online Workshop (In this pre-festival workshop, MissinTech showed the participants how to create a computer game from scratch). Here are some of the highlights of the 2018 festival.

Part of Science in the City 2019 Team

During the real-world festival, theatres across the city hosted a selection of events created to excite, inspire and entertain people of all ages. Citizens were able to enjoy this vibrant celebration of science and art, featuring music, interactive plays, comedy, science shows and more. These real-world workshops mostly involved science communication and engagement workshops. We can take for example, a science poetry workshop during the SITC 2019 edition, or Meet the Researchers (this workshop takes place yearly during the festival).

There have also been live virtual festivals which were only a click away for the citizens to participate in. The virtual program includes the same exciting variety of events that have come to define Malta’s largest Science and Arts festival. 

Science in the City is Malta’s national science and arts festival. This year, the festival will be held with pre-festival events in august and the main festival on 24th-25th september. All of this is to provide a memorable platform for citizens to engage with scientists, researchers, artists and performers.

The Science in the City Festival was first held way back in 2012. It was the first science and arts festival to be brought to Malta’s shores and has been growing in scale and vision ever since. The number of attendees has more than doubled from 12,000 in 2012 to 30,000 in 2018 — reaching over 6% of the total population of the Maltese Islands. The number of activities has more than tripled as has the number of partners, researchers and volunteers involved, with over 400 students and 80 researchers involved.

In 2012 the main event was You Are The Staircase, an art installation by Norbert Attard inspired by the work of geneticist Prof. Alex Felice. In 2013 there were the Humanised fruit flies – human-sized and depicted engaging in human activities – and Light up my house, an interactive installation. The 2014 edition included AMaze² – a huge maze which threw in wide-ranging fields in science: from the CERN particle accelerator, creating music with plants to X-Ray Crystallography; with a planetarium at its centre. The 2015 edition focused on the Rosetta Comet, with St George’s square transformed into the Rosetta Satellite Space Mission, along with 3D printing of the same satellite, the hubble telescope and more. In 2016 the festival was themed ‘The Brain’, with exhibitions like Brain Square (inspired by comparison of different mammalian brains) and Anthropomorphic Sculptures (showing the evolution of the nervous system), along with discussions centred around mental health. 2017 saw the festival reach new heights and focused on how today’s research is shaping our future with highlights including Light Pushes Stuff (an interactive moving sculpture powered by light), virtual reality demonstrations, a large Hologram installation (the first of its kind in Malta!) bringing the human body to life in 3D and the music-science fusion “Jazz for the Brain” where lights and music displayed the complexity of a stroke, and the technology being used to treat the condition. In 2018, we worked with the Valletta 2018 Foundation to feature ‘Pushing The Mouse’: a giant computer mouse that was pushed around the Triton Fountain by visitors, as well as a high-tech augmented reality experience called The Fourth Triton. Meanwhile, St Georges square was transformed by ReFraming Carbon, an artwork inspired by Malta’s rich heritage.

The latest festival 2020 was held digitally to more than 20, 000 unique online users. We converted all physical performances, music, theatre, experiments and other content to live or pre-recorded sessions streamed from a studio. It was challenging but incredibly rewarding with engagement by people from Turkey to Ireland, motivating us to run hybrid festivals from 2021 onwards!

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