Wonder, fun and discovery at Be Curious 2021


Interact with Antarctic explorers, design your own version of Leeds’ future, explore the fascinating uses of magnets and lasers – all this and more are featured in Be Curious 2021.

The University’s family-friendly annual research open event goes online this year, giving an in-depth look into research conducted at Leeds from the luxury of participants’ own homes.

Launching on Monday 5 July, the 10-day festival promises to deliver nonstop fun and exploration through both the Be Curious family programme and the newly introduced Be Curious LATES series, which lines up exclusive talks just for grown-ups.

Be Curious will nourish natural curiosity with the public in these changed times.

Dr Alexa Ruppertsberg, Head of Public Engagement with Research

The event has been curated around the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to showcase how research at Leeds is “making a world of a difference”. It calls upon people from all age groups to consume this research by engaging with the live online activities that range from artsy projects like using waste materials to create homemade stethoscopes and collages to informative sessions like discussions on inclusion and identity. 

Dr Alexa Ruppertsberg, Head of Public Engagement with Research, said: “What a journey the past year has been! We’ve gone from a postponed Be Curious 2020 in March to adapting to a completely new format.

“The Public Engagement team was eager to give our academics and researchers opportunities to inspire wonder, help with sensemaking and challenge long-held views.

“Be Curious will also encourage participation and involvement to influence behaviours – and nourish natural curiosity with the public in these changed times.”

In addition to live events, explore 2-minute wow demonstrations, experiments, demos and explainer videos via the Be Curious YouTube channel.

All events are free to attend upon registration. Check out the Be Curious site for the full schedule of events and links to sign up.

Family Programme highlights

Headline event: Live from the space shed with Unlimited Space Agency

A collaboration between Be Curious and the Unlimited Space Agency means a day long broadcast live from the space shed! Join a team of space scientists, oceanographers, and Antarctic explorers to discover the world and beyond and get all your climate related questions out of the way.

Date and time: Saturday 10 July, 10am-4pm

Laser, security and space: terahertz waves

Delve into all things straight out of your favourite sci-fi film! This event gives a sneak peek into the lasers being built at Leeds to study outer space. If that was not fascinating enough, take a look at the earthly uses for these lasers in scoping for illegal items through fully packaged containers. Participate in an engaging activity by cracking the mystery of ‘what’s inside the box’ and get an exclusive look into the university lab where all these innovative advances are being made.

Date and time: Thursday 8 July, 4-4.30pm

Rhythms and rhymes: let’s get talking about democracy!

Ever puzzled over how to teach little ones about the political ways of the world? This event tackles exactly that using rhymes and rhythms. Participants will make use of these melodic means to understand democracy and the importance of it in our daily lives. Suitable for children aged 9 and up, this activity welcomes adults as well because it’s never too late to learn!

Date and time: Wednesday 14 July, 4-4.45pm

The rough and the smooth: what’s it like inside your joints?

Join-t hands with our researchers as they explain the significance of the spot where our bones meet. This body part which allows us to perform physical activities with ease deserves to be given the utmost care as we grow older. Explore anatomy and follow along as we explore lubrication, friction and measure motion through live experiments.

Date and time: Thursday 15 July, 4-4.45pm

Be Curious LATES Programme highlights

How to build a habitable world

Take a trip into the cosmos as we traverse the world of stars, planets and even aliens! Astrophysics experts describe the possibilities of finding planets with atmospheres that support life outside of earth, be dazzled by the origins of stars and explore the use of future state of the art telescopes that could one day discover extraterrestrial life.

Date and time: Monday 5 July, 8-9pm

Be Curious LATES x Leeds University Library Special Collections

Dive into the booming treasury of Leeds University Library and have a chance to experience our Special Collections. Find out how crime fiction novelists are turning to our historical collection of crime writing for research, and explore the archives of Yorkshire-born anarchist, poet and critic, Herbert Read. For interior décor enthusiasts, this session will also walk through a recent undertaking to catalogue the extraordinary John Evan Bedford Library of Furniture History.

Date and time: Tuesday 6 July, 8-9pm

Imagining Sustainable Futures

Hear from researchers in the fields of fashion, architecture and food as they demonstrate research conducted to help reduce waste and improve sustainability practices in industry. Discover how we can be more energy efficient in our day to day lives and put the needs of the environment first.

Date and time: Tuesday 13 July, 8-9pm

Inclusion and Identity

Sexuality, social inclusion, diversity, identity and more will be covered in this session with the help of impactful research. Ever wondered if being LGBTQ+ would impact or change the course of certain careers? Or how language helps us find our place in the world? Join us on this adventure to find out the answers to all this and more.

Date and time: Thursday 15 July, 8-9pm

Visit the Be Curious Lates website to see the full programme of events.