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Attractions from the festival

Bugs and magnets are the focus of two touring science workshops for early years. Emma Seith reports

Bugs and magnets are the focus of two touring science workshops for early years. Emma Seith reports

A grandfather explaining, on a crisp, cloudless winter's evening, what causes the Northern Lights provides the introduction to one of two new workshops in this year's Edinburgh International Science Festival schools touring programme, Generation Science.

The new workshops, called Marvellous Magnets and Brilliant Bugs, are aimed at early years pupils, from nurseries up to P3.

Marvellous Magnets is mainly hands-on, introducing pupils to concepts such as magnetic attraction and repulsion, fields and poles, but begins with the story of five-year-old Manus, who lives in the north of Scotland with his mum, dad and grandad.

One winter's evening Manus goes for a walk after dinner with his grandfather, who points out the North Star in the cloudless sky. Suddenly, the night sky fills with a pale green light, tinged with red and blue. Manus's grandad explains to him what causes the Northern Lights - the force of the solar winds and the earth's magnetic shield.

Brilliant Bugs, meanwhile, is an expert-led exploration of the amazing world of minibeasts. It allows pupils to look at invertebrates up-close and discover the difference between bugs and why they belong to different groups. Included in the session is the Madagascar hissing cockroach. Most insects that make noise do so by rubbing their body parts together or by employing vibrating membranes. Madagascar hissing cockroaches, however, exhale air through their breathing holes.

Other invertebrates featured in the workshop include: molluscs - giant African land snail; arachnids - tarantula and scorpion; and myriapods - giant African millipedes.

Generation Science manager, Joan Davidson, says: "At Generation Science we bring science to life, and hope that longer term more pupils will choose science, technology, engineering or maths in secondary education and as a future career."

Generation Science tours January-May.

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