As IF Oxford, the science and ideas Festival, bursts into life this weekend, we’re here to highlight the wonderful children’s and family friendly events.

Dance in a brain-scanner, delve inside the body and mind, discover how diseases are diagnosed and treated and travel from the depths of the ocean to the outer reaches of space. Whatever your interest or age there’s something to intrigue and inspire you with dozens of interactive activities and demonstrations to enjoy.

IF Festival Picture by Ed Nix
  • Festival Explorazone – Sunday 10 October (11am – 12pm & 12 – 5pm) at Oxford Town Hall, including the Incredible Oceans Chemistry Lab, a ball-throwing game that explains gene therapy in a simple way, and the chance to learn some dance choreography for a magnetic field-inspired dance, and the chance to uncover why you are a night-owl or get up with the lark, prebook your space before travelling.
  • Children can collect a Glow-Your-Own coding pack to make their own interactive lights with Glow-your-own coding workshops every Tuesday at 5pm over the next 6 weeks until November 16. Learn how to make a moving lantern using the components in the pack, and sensors in a circuit to control LEDs and motors, combining art and engineering. The idea is that the lanterns can then be used for Christmas Light Night.
  • Science at the Shops  23rd-25th Oct 10-4pm in Templars Square Shopping Centre, Cowley (Sat/Sun) when diamonds, hearts, beasts and microbes takeover Banks Court in an array of activities – children can become a trainee surgeon, play a game that mimics the immune system discover how meerkats recognise one another and find our what owls had for dinner.
  • BLAST! On Monday 25th Oct in Blackbird Leys Community Centre enjoy a space themed BLAST! day with immersive planetarium, green screen technology to transport children to Mars and more. All free. BLAST! is the Blackbird Leys Astronomy, Science and Technology zone for families, where you can see the stars, explore fusion technology, imagine yourself on Mars and have a go at computer coding.Step into Science Oxford’s immersive planetarium to navigate the stars and hear stories of the cosmos. Meet apprentice engineers from UKAEA who designed Mars Rovers as part of the Olympus Rover Challenge. See yourself on Mars through the magic of green screen technology with film-maker, Reuel James. Try your hand at creative coding to make an LED decoration for the Oxford Christmas Light Festival with Science Oxford. Find out how scientists and engineers from UKAEA are harnessing star power to make sustainable energy.
  • For the tinies there is Rhymetime at 11am in Oxford County Library three times a week, songs and rhymes for the under 5s on different themes Mon 11th Space; Wed 13th Animals; Fri 15th Robots; Mon 18th Nature; Wed 20th Weather; Fri 22nd Birds, Mon 25th Weather.
  • There’s also a Storytime event on Saturday 16th at 2.30pm in Oxford County Library too. Join storyteller Sarah Law to hear stories from the animal kingdom. Along the way, you’ll meet all sorts of resourceful and beautiful creatures and discover how they walk, swim, slither and fly. Best suited to children aged 5 – 9 years. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Storytime – tales for all seasons
  • Storytime continues with Look to the Sky on Sat October 23 – Join storyteller Sarah Law and prepare to look upwards. Fly beyond the treetops, visit celestial bodies and keep an eye out for flying creatures along the way. Best suited to children age 5 – 9 years. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Plus on October 23 Pegasus Theatre have a Club Origami Show put on by the Little Big Dance theatre co where under 5s can scrunch paper and fire their imaginations in an immersive adventure. Ticket price applies.


  • Maths Variety Show on Monday October 11 in Somerville College Chapel at 7pm; (free/Pay what you decide) – with Tom Crawford of Tom Rocks Maths and others. See the magical world of maths unfold before your eyes with a mathematical variety show with Tom Crawford, also known as The Naked Mathematician. Join a cast of creative mathematicians to discover magic, stand-up comedy, re-enactments of famous movie scenes, tattoos and of course maths! Come to the digital watch-along on Mon 25 October
Tom Crawford’s maths tattoos
  • The Great Big Science And Maths Gameshow! at Cowley Road Methodist Church, October 13. What do you get when you take the best bits from your favourite gameshows and multiply those by an all-star panel? Featuring TV’s Bobby SeagullNumberphile’s Dr Tom Crawford, and ‘the world’s most interesting mathematician’ Dr Nira Chamberlain, two teams fight it out in the ultimate battle for science supremacy. Expect laughs, terrible jokes, and possibly some of the worst gameshow performances you’ll ever see… Don’t miss this fun-filled science extravaganza! Or watch along on October 26.

The IF Oxford programme includes a wide range of children’s events and activities throughout October. See for further details.