Crochet a brain neuron, find out if aliens exist or discover the science behind explosions in one of hundreds of activities taking place at this year’s Cambridge Science Festival.

The programme for the 2017 Festival features hundreds of mostly free talks, exhibitions and hands-on events – and some family favourites are back again for another year.

Children (and adults!) will love the explosive fun of Burning Issues: Fire and Flames with Peter Wothers (Department of Chemistry, 18-20 March) and school groups can make a rocket launchpad at the Department of Engineering (20-24 March). Hugh Hunt and Rob Eastaway use playing cards, bouncing balls and a pair of socks help make maths fun in The Maths of Everyday Objects (UTC Cambridge, 24 March). And there’s the chance to explore the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences by twilight (22 March), create your own personal microbiome print at the Grafton Centre (11 March) and use a Raspberry Pi computer to bug your bedroom at the Centre for Computing History (16 March).

Top picks at the Babbage Lecture Theatre include Zits, Sex, Drug and Rock ‘N’ Roll (18 March), where David Bainbridge answers the age-old question, what did our teenage years ever do for us? Few will be able to resist seeing James Grime use an Enigma machine to break an unbreakable code (Alan Turing and the Enigma Machine, 18 March) or having their Brain Poked by Steve Mould, host of BBC1’s Britain’s Brightest (19 March).

Also tipped to get booked up fast are talks by Emily Shuckburgh, who recently garnered headlines with her Ladybird book of climate change, co-authored by Prince Charles. She asks Tackling Climate Change: Whose Responsibility Is it? at the Webb Library, Jesus College (15 March). In Engineering Solutions To Medical Problems, Ewen Kellar covers 3D printing body parts, supergluing the brain and making artificial tendons out of racing car fibres (UTC Cambridge, 26 March).

Those after a voyage of discovery have plenty to choose from. Mums can discover how ‘in tune’ they are with their babies at See Your Baby’s Brain Learn (Department of Psychology, 13 March) while at the Guildhall, find out how well you are ageing (Babraham Institute Molecular Explorers), how efficient your immune system is (Your Personal Immune Army) or how your subconscious governs your food choices (Science And Cereal Packets), all on 18-19 March.

Several exhibitions are being held during the Festival - an audio-visual display of snail embryos is being hosted at the Ruskin Gallery, while a stereoscopic 3D display of molecules can be experienced at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology.

Performance events include a science-themed Ceilidh, the first ever 'breath choir', stand-up comedy at the Boathouse pub and the Portland Arms, and Ensonglopedia - a song event with John Hinton about science for every letter of the alphabet at the Cambridge Junction.

The programme for the 2017 Festival has just been released. Aimed at sparking scientific debate and inspiring young people to take an interest in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, the two-week Festival is run by the University of Cambridge and our partner research institutions, local charities and businesses.

“This year the Festival is ‘getting personal!’ said Dr Lucinda Spokes, Coordinator of the Cambridge Science Festival. “Through debates, talks, demonstrations and performances, we’ll be addressing important questions about our health and lifestyle, our place in the world and our impact on the environment in which we live. We thank all our scientists and the city and our community for their support for the Festival and we look forward to welcoming people of all ages to join us in March to explore Cambridge science.”

Bookings do not open until Monday, February 20, but science enthusiasts will need to start planning early - last year's Festival website received nearly half a million visitors.

Cambridge Science Festival, 13-26 March. To pre-book events, visit the Cambridge Science Festival website, or call: 01223 766 766. Visit the Festival’s twitter site or Facebook page.

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