Last weekend the University of Salford’s MediaCityUK campus was home to the ‘GameLab’ event, as part of the Manchester Science Festival.

The university hosted all manner of technological stations, made by students and scientists alike, allowing people of all ages to take part in over 120 different high-tech activities.

Gemma Latham, student volunteer at GameLab, showed off a two-player game of reactions, which requires one player to operate an old knitting machine, while the other member of the team hits the correct directional button as fast as they can.

“I’ve been exploring crossovers between gaming and craft during my PhD so this is just a bit of an experiment linked up using switches on the machine linking to an arduino inside the game.

“I think it’s really important to make science accessible so coming up with interactive things that make it understanding because that’s what drives the future.”

One station saw the combination of science and music, as physicist Dr Rob Appleby and artist James Russel manned a set of DJ decks to discover how the movement of particles could inspire house music.

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Rob, lead of ‘Science in the House’ explained how Science in the House combines art, music and science so the kids can sit down and be a DJ or be a VJ.

He said: “They’ve sat down and spent hours there, mixing the music, mixing the visuals essentially doing a science in the house performance, learning about music and science at the same time.

“Our lives are becoming more tech based than ever before, and the kids here are the scientists of the future so they have to learn and one day perhaps change science.”

Another section of the university allowed visitors to bring the retro gaming experience back into the 21st century.

This included rows of old consoles and arcade games dedicated to 90’s classics such as Pacman, Space Invaders, and Super Mario Bros.

A popular attraction was the virtual reality consoles, which gave opportunity to children, like Samuel Rushton, to experience gaming first hand using the VR goggles.

While gaming technology was very much present there were also plenty of scientific stations to discover.

Owen Griffiths’ experiment, which used solar power to separate the hydrogen and oxygen from water, was among the most popular.

Owen said: “We’re taking solar power and using it to power an electrolyser, which separates water into hydrogen and oxygen, then recombining it in a hydrogen fuel cell which produces electricity.”

“If you spark their interests young their going to keep going and building onto it, then who knows where it might end up but it’s important because it is the future.”

As well as the huge number of activities on offer, there was a chance for gamers to take the stage in the Esports play room, giving air to some of the latest competitive gaming titles.

GameLab at MediaCityUK was only a small part of the Manchester Science Festival, which has events running until the 28th October, primarily based at the Science and Industry Museum.

For information on the many more activities at GameLab, or to find out more about the Manchester Science Festival, please click here.

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