Ice mountains and the mysteries of gloop will intrigue some of Otley’s youngest scientists next week.

A Silly Science Toddler Time, organised by Otley Children’s Centre, will kick off the fifth Otley Science Festival, at Otley Courthouse, on Monday.

The week-long celebration will also feature talks by leading academics, a gadgets-filled discussion of gravity by the BBC One Show’s Marty Jopson, and an all-day fair with programmable robots.

But first up is Monday’s toddlers event, which has been specially designed for the under-fives, and will include living ant hills and ‘feely boxes’.

Otley Children’s Centre’s Liz Oddy said: “From a very early age children are natural scientists, using their senses to investigate and explore the world around them, and the earliest years in a child’s life are absolutely critical.

“This is the first time there has been an event targeting the under-fives at the science festival, and it will be a wonderful opportunity for families to come along with their children and take part.

“There will be lots of things to do as everything is interactive, so children will be able to experience sensory lighting in our dark tent, see our live ant hill, make patterns in the foam and lots more.

“And there will be plenty of information for parents so they can continue the fun at home.”

This year’s festival will also include a talk on The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Science, by the BBC’s Professor Jim Al-Khalili, and a special festival science cafe featuring presentations by three scientists on topics including the potentially planet-saving properties of Thorium and extraterrestrial life.

There will be two shows for primary school children – The Big Bug Experience, which will let visitors touch tarantulas and scorpions, and The Really Heavy Show, where Dr Jopson will use crossbows and tomatoes to explain gravity.

The festival will end with a science fair packed with demonstrations, stalls and appearances by famous scientists from days gone by on November 17, from 10am to 4pm.

Visit or call (01943) 467466 for details.