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Activities open doors to science

National Science Week offers a wide range of events promoting the core subjects to young people, Karen Shead reports

Build a tower out of spaghetti and mini marshmallows, learn how to bend a ball like Beckham or get tips on how to be a weather presenter. These are just some of the activities on offer during National Science Week.

From March 12-21, people all over Britain will be taking part in events ranging from conferences to science fairs, workshops and school visits.

Each year National Science Week, co-ordinated by the British Association for the Advancement of Science, aims to celebrate science and encourage people to realise its importance in our lives. Last year there were more than 1,000 events across the UK involving 100,000 participants.

"National Science Week is about opening doors to science for everyone," says chief executive Roland Jackson. "We encourage everyone to go out this week and join in the events taking place around the UK, visit their local science centre, or even just explore the science in their own home."

From learning to identify Highland animals from their tracks and signs (at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery) to learning about the connection between sand and mobile phones (at shopping centres in south and central Scotland), there is something for everyone.

Children can learn how milk gets from the grass to a glass by visiting the Scottish Agricultural College's Crichton Royal Farm in Dumfries. Or, if they want to know more about butterflies - what colours do they prefer? Can they smell? Do they really have curly tongues? - Edinburgh's Butterfly and Insect World offers the chance to find out.

Pupils from schools in Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross are set to experience a day in the working life of a scientist at Dundee University.

Glasgow University is hosting several events. If you have ever wondered how birds build their nest, now is your chance to find out. Children will have the chance to make their own nests and test them using chocolate eggs.

Scientists from all over the city will be gathering together as part of Brain Awareness Week. There will be a selection of displays, activities and experiments at the university. One event which is sure to be popular is the multi-media show which explores the science you need to know before you can bend a ball like Beckham.

The chance to take an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the trials and tribulations of being a television weather forecaster, as well as finding out how accurate weather forecasts are and what can be expected in the future, is offered by BBC Scotland's Heather Reid.

The spaghetti tower challenge is set to draw in the crowds across the north of Scotland. With 130 schools groups and 30 community groups taking part, at least 5,000 people will race to see who can build the tallest tower out of raw spaghetti and mini marshmallows. Working in groups of three, they will have 30 minutes to build the tallest skyscraper possible.

Maureen Traquair, of sponsors BP, says: "This competition is a brilliant way of developing skills in lateral thinking, innovation and team work. The pupils will have a great deal of fun while learning all sorts of science."

The Glasgow Science Centre will host a reality science show called Nature's Reality Game Show for P4-S2 pupils. The interactive game, developed in association with Scottish Natural Heritage, entertains pupils while allowing them to learn about the threats to native species, food chains, recycling and energy use.

Sensation Dundee will run live insect handling classes, if you fancy getting close to hissing cockroaches, giant snails, stick insects, mealworms and giant millipedes, or you can watch scorpions glow bright white under UV light.

For more information about events, www.the-ba.netnsw

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