Blog Listings

The Open Data Challenge Series

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

The Open Data Challenge Series run by Nesta and the Open Data Institute is pleased to bring the forthcoming Jobs Challenge to the city of Manchester in April 2015. They will be hosting the Creation Weekend in Manchester on 25/26 April which will be an opportunity for invited teams to come together and develop/pitch their ideas, with a chance to become one of three finalists. They are keen to make sure that there is a good representation of teams from the North West who make it through. To note, the challenge is not a hack and any team wanting to participate will need to submit an application by 30th March via their platform –

In terms of more background on the challenge, it’s designed to get entrepreneurs, designers and citizens to come up with products and services that ‘use open data to help people find better jobs or create new jobs.’ The team have put together user research and an analysis of some of the available and relevant data to help people access the challenge and come up with great user centred ideas that use open data to have a social impact. Broader info about the Challenge is here:

Ultimately, the three finalists (who receive £5,000 and incubation support during the process) and the final winner (who receives £50,000 overall prize) will go on to launch sustainable products and services which will hopefully have an impact for local people in Manchester and the North West.

Ed Parkes (@edtparkes) and Briony Phillips (@BrionyPhi11ips) who run the Challenges are keen to reach out to groups across the city and North West to:

  • participate in the challenge by submitting an idea for a product or service by the deadline at midday on Monday 30th March
  • attend the pitching session at the Creation Weekend on Sunday 26th April from 1400 – 1700
  • spread the word amongst our communities and networks to increase the number of Manchester based teams participating

Please consider entering the challenge or sending this blog post to anyone who you think might be interested. If you’d like more info you can tweet @odchallenges on Twitter or contact Briony (

SciFi Book Club Reading List – Spring/Summer 2015

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

For all you Science Fiction fans, here is our next round of books for Manchester SciFi Book Club…

  • 17th Mar – World War Z by Max Brooks (342 pages)
  • 21st Apr – Time’s Eye by Arthur C Clarke & Stephen Baxter (384 pages)
  • 19th May – The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick (272 pages)
  • 16th Jun – We Who Are About To… by Joanna Russ (152 pages)
  • 21st Jul – MaddAddam by Marget Attwood (496 pages)
  • 18th Aug – Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (432 pages)
  • 15th Sep – Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter (400 pages)

An excellent selection which will no doubt lead to some compelling discussion points and more than a few laughs!

More about each book (and the ones that didn’t make the list) can be found on our vote on our next round of books Google Group post

Sci-Fi Book Club

Sci-Fi Book Club

See you next book!

Manchester Sci-Fi Book Club Contacts:

You can contact us via twitter @mcrsf_madlab or by using #mcrsf

Keep up to date with Manchester Sci-Fi book club posts at Madlab

We also have a group on Google which we would encourage you to join.

Manchester SciFi Book Club on Google+

Manchester SciFi Book Club: Next Round of Books

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Hi Everybody!

In our latest vote there were two definite favourites followed by six books tied in third place. So we have scheduled the top two and will leave voting open for a bit longer to see if any more favourites emerge!

Our next books are:

17th March – World War Z by Max Brooks (342 pages)

21st April – Time’s Eye by Arthur C Clarke & Stephen Baxter (384 pages)

Vote on our next books –

Our current book is Robopocalypse by Daniel H Wilson (347 pages) which we’ll be discussing on 17th Feb at either Madlab or upstairs at Terrace if construction work is till going on at Madlab.

See you next book!

Manchester Sci-Fi Book Club Contacts:

You can contact us via twitter @mcrsf_madlab or by using #mcrsf

Keep up to date with Manchester Sci-Fi book club posts at Madlab

We also have a group on Google which we would encourage you to join.

Manchester SciFi Book Club on Google+

Post by Daniel Wells, Manchester Sci-Fi Book Club.

Christmas Tree Workshop at FACT

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

This past weekend has been quite a festive and creative one! Three of our staff were invited to FACT in Liverpool to run a workshop throughout the day to make some Christmas Trees using basic electric components and soldering. Lots of people came along eager to get their hands on making one, both kids and adults alike! Even with the need to use soldering irons, a lot of younger builders were up to the challenge and learned how to use one for the first time.

The results were fantastic, with everyone having success building their trees and some amazement when they first lit up. The trees run off a single ordinary 9V battery so they can keep running for days and days, and can easily be replaced to last the whole Christmas period! Here’s a photo of one of the young constructors from the weekend:

B4vM8A_CIAAL2Ev.jpg large

This workshop and a previous workshop creating Rudolph ornaments with light-up noses was designed to give children and young people an easy, fun introduction to electronics. They were based on ideas used in previous workshops such as Mitch Altman’s soldering workshops and the BUGS! workshop we did as part of Blackburn is Open. The workshops were designed around two simple LED circuits with the first Rudolph workshop using a 3V battery to power a flashing red LED connected using copper tape, while the second workshop explained in this post involved a more complicated circuit involving 7 LEDs in parallel powered by a 9V battery.

Both workshops gave us an opportunity to introduce people to basic soldering skills (don’t touch the hot end) and the principles of diodes (such as the orientation of LED legs for correct positive/negative polarity) Although these workshops were focussed on electronics we decided to use unexpected materials including laser-cut wood and copper tape to demonstrate how easy it is to make circuits that will function and that electronics need not look like traditional circuits nor use printed circuit boards to achieve the same results.

You can purchase your very own Christmas Tree to make over on Etsy, and watch a video below of how the event went with a look at the trees in action!

Written by Jake Causier, a graduate intern from Manchester Metropolitan University and Tamarisk Kay, Director at MadLab.

MegaMenger – lend us your hands!

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

In October, Manchester Science Festival is taking part in the MegaMenger distributed fractal building project. For more information about the project, please visit We’re building a huge fractal using over 1,000,000 business cards, using a simple folding method that doesn’t involve tape or glue.

Do you have a small army (or even 2-3 people) of folders that would like to be part of this build? We’re looking for people willing to come along and help on the day, as well as schools, offices and community groups prepared to build cube parts and bring them to be joined into the main build. We’ll have a list on the website of all the teams that have helped us build, and you’ll become part of a huge international project. Please contact us if you’re interested!

Katie Steckles
Manchester Organiser