There was more than just sunshine to enjoy on the hottest day of the year so far, as around 7,000 young people from across the region and their teachers converged on the South of England Showground for the fourth annual Big Bang Fair South East.
Part of the nationwide Big Bang programme, the biggest single celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK, the fair was supported by businesses, universities and professional organisations from throughout South East England, providing a day of exciting and fun-filled hands-on shows and activities.
Among hundreds of activities, the students, aged between nine and 19, were able to follow the tracks of the Mars Curiosity Rover, make a 3D digital film, test the temperature of the Sun, get up close and personal with a bald eagle, and understand how fireworks work.
They could also test their skills on a flight simulator with the Royal Aeronautical Society, experience what it’s like to be an air traffic controller, and design and build their own drone.
The Big Bang Fair South East also hosted the regional heats of the prestigious National Science and Engineering Competition, which recognises and rewards young people’s achievements in all areas of STEM. The winning projects will represent the South East at the national finals next March.
Nathan Davey and Lukas Ratcliffe, from The Skinners’ School, Tunbridge Wells, won the South East Young Engineer of the Year award for their “Aesop – Aerial SO2” project, while Isobel Golding, from Oriel High School, Crawley, was named South East Young Scientist of the Year for her project “Fear vs Mental Intelligence.”
Jo McKinney-Green, STEM Sussex Project Manager, said: “The Big Bang Fair South East continues to grow, both in terms of the numbers attending and the organisations involved – an indication of its increasing importance to the young people of the region and their teachers.
“The signs are that since the first Big Bang in 2012 there has been an increase in the number of students studying STEM subjects to A-level, and we believe that the fun, hands-on approach of this and other events has been a major contributory factor.
“We have already begun planning for next year’s event, which will take place in late June.”
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