Each year, the Festival welcomes some of the UK’s most respected scientists, writers, thinkers and creators to shine a light on the role science plays in our everyday lives.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Festival’s theme was Be the Change – encouraging visitors to consider the central role of science in shaping the future alongside the important part we can all play.

The event attracted thousands of visitors over the week, and embraced a variety of topics – spanning the power of science to predict upcoming elections to the question of whether humanity is truly alone in the universe. Its celebrity line-up included award-winning physicist Brian Cox, comedian and TV presenter Dara Ó Briain, lexicographer Susie Dent and British astronaut Tim Peake.

Researchers from the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences hosted an interactive exhibit in the Discover Zone – a free-to-access space where visitors explore a world of fun and interactive science.

Eat well, move well, live well!

Dr Florence Sheen and her Eat well, move well, live well! team helped visitors to discover how a balanced diet and physical activity contribute to our wellbeing.

Their exhibition’s range of activities explored the body’s response to physical activity, offered ways to identify processed foods, and provided guidance around enjoying a healthy, tasty and balanced diet.

Reflecting on their busy week, Dr Sheen said: “We had dozens of primary and secondary school pupils as well as families with younger children exploring the activities on our stand.

“The creativity of the children in finding balance in our diet and the positive and compassionate posts they left on our message board was astounding – and the boxing task was hugely popular.

“I’m so grateful to our stellar team of PhD students, researchers and professional staff who so effectively supported the curiosity and learning of our visitors.”

Doctoral Researcher, Bettina Pasztor, was part of the team. It was her first visit to the Festival as an exhibition delegate. She said: “I really enjoyed the experience – particularly seeing the positive impact we had on visitors’ knowledge.

“Reading the posts on our message board was amazing – the children left so many heartfelt and inspiring notes.

“On behalf of all the volunteers, I’d like to say a massive thank you to Dr Sheen. We thoroughly enjoyed our week in Cheltenham and would do it again in a heartbeat!”

Myth-busting: should we rethink our diets?

On the closing evening of the Festival, Dr Sheen joined Federica Amanti (Head Nutritionist at ZOE) and Julia Wheeler (journalist and writer) to discuss the science behind eating well. Their conversation touched on safely navigating conflicting advice, fad diets and the poor eating choices offered by convenience foods while highlighting ways to achieve a balanced and nutritious diet.

Professor Dan Parsons, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at Loughborough, commented: “Public engagement and outreach are such important elements of a responsible and authentic research culture and environment – and the Cheltenham Science Festival is an outstanding opportunity for the public to discover the impact science has on every aspect of our lives.

“Last year, we showcased our expertise in catalysts for a net zero future and mind-body illusions to aid understanding and empathy. This year – demonstrating the breadth of our world-leading research – we presented our ongoing work around the role of good nutrition and physical activity in helping us to lead happier, healthier lives.

“My heart-felt thanks go to Dr Florence Sheen and her team for their hard work and effort in representing the University at one of Europe’s largest, most prestigious science festivals.”