Deborah James, Daze Aghaji, Alom Shaha, Polly Denny and a collective of Young Changemakers will discuss the Festival theme ‘Be The Change’
Cheltenham Science Festival is back at full scale for its 20th birthday with debates, discussions and a host of free activities including The Arcade – a brand-new zone for creatively cryptic challenges.
Continuing our ‘Be The Change’ theme, we have invited four Guest Curators and a group of five Young Changemakers to show how science is shaping our future. They are:
The author of the weekly column Things Cancer Made Me Say and host of the award-winning podcast You, Me & the Big C will be asking the questions everyone wants the answers to and getting people talking about cancer in a way that is hopeful, yet realistic. She said: “ As someone who is living with cancer, I feel I’m in a good position to steer the conversation between researcher and patient. Sometimes navigating the latest cancer treatments can be overwhelming, so I want to educate people that each person’s experience of cancer is as unique as they are. In cancer treatment one size doesn’t fit all. People need to understand where we are with personalisation of medicine.”
Alom Shaha, Physics teacher, writer, film-maker, and science communicator is Guest Curator of the Family programme. He said: “I will be looking at creativity and encouraging families to think about engineering by making marvellous machines. In the MakerShack we’ll have lots of activities to foster curiosity and wonder, a love of science and the world around us. Science is a cultural activity, not just something for a small niche group of people, and I hope the Festival will really help convey that message.”
Polly Denny will be poet-in-residence, capturing the mood of Cheltenham Science Festival and creating poetry in response to what is happening. She said: “I am fascinated by the politics of the digital and the power of the algorithm, and so I am especially excited to be working with AIDA, the Festival’s AI Curator to ask questions about creativity. Is it a purely human attribute or can all minds do it? We’ll be taking creative risks and trying out new things because if you can’t experiment at a science festival, when can you?”
Climate Justice activist Daze Aghaji will bring together a group of young changemakers from different fields to envision what a new world could look like. They are: conservationist and queer activist Dawood Qureshi; disability campaigner Evie Meg; youth in policymaking advocate Samuel Ajakaiye; mental health campaigner Sophia Badhan and cyber-security expert Sophia McCall. Daze said: “As we examine the Festival theme ‘Be The Change’, I’m looking forward to learning from the group of young changemakers and also sharing my knowledge of organising and inspiring others to create change.”
Dawood Qureshi (they/them), is a queer, Writer, Freelance Journalist, TV Researcher at BBC Natural History Unit, Wildlife Film-maker, Ambassador for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Engagement Officer for the youth led nature organisation A Focus On Nature, Activist, Marine Biology graduate and Speaker/Presenter.
Evie Meg is a TikTok sensation (12 million followers and counting) who uses her platform to educate others on what it’s like living with Tourette’s syndrome, amongst other health complications.
Samuel Ajakaiye is a British-Nigerian advocate for youth involvement in policymaking. Samuel is currently a non-executive director for the international affairs think-tank Chatham House and has previously worked with groups such as the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and the UK’s Y20 delegates to deliver workshops and consultations which target the concerns and ideas of young people.
Sophia Badhan BCAh
After being hospitalised for mental health conditions including Anorexia Nervosa, Anxiety, Depression and OCD, Sophia now actively campaigns to ensure young people are given the treatment they both need and deserve. She is a recipient of The Diana Award 2019 and in 2020 won the highest award in the West Midlands Combined Authority Thrive Mental Health Star Awards for her work advocating for the mental health rights of young people. She is a member of The Think4Brum Youthboard and in 2019, Sophia was selected as one of 50 new #iWill Ambassadors for the UK.
Sophia McCall works as a security consultant in the cyber security industry and is a founding member of Security Queens, a brand created to promote inclusion and diversity in tech. Sophia is also a chapter administrator for the Ladies of Cheltenham Hacking Society, and captained Team UK at the European Cyber Security Challenge 2019.
AIDA – A.I. Guest Curator
Since harnessing her neural network powers in 2019 to create her own successful event ‘Introvert Narwhals’ The Festival’s A.I. Guest Curator AIDA has interviewed speakers and activists, and created enviro-friendly digital art NFTs inspired by the COP26 summit. Who knows what her next big Science Festival idea is?