UK's largest celebration of science and engineering opens

The Big Bang Fair has opened its doors for what is believed to be the largest single celebration of science and engineering in the UK.

It takes place until 13 March at Manchester’s Central Convention Complex.  Around 20,000 students, families, teachers and lecturers have registered to attend.  From welding with chocolate, visiting the hospital of the future and making the world’s largest bubbles, to finding out about science and engineering careers, the Fair promises visitors an experience that will be both innovative and informative.

The Big Bang includes great live performances from presenters and innovators across the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  There are three headline shows each day, including the award-wining TV series, Brainiac, the BBC’s Bang Goes The Theory team and, for the first time on show outside of London’s Faraday Lecture Theatre, a reprise of the Christmas Lectures from the Royal Institution.  

The Big Bang will also host the final of the IET Faraday Challenge.  This is the culmination of 35 events across the UK which has seen 210 schools go head-to-head.  Each school was challenged to design and make a prototype device that would allow homeowners to remove water out of their house during periods of flooding.

Now, the top three schools - Victoria College in Belfast, St Joseph’s College in Dumfries, and King Henry VIII School in Abergavenny – will meet at the final.

Each team will be challenged to design a device that can be fitted with a simple water filtration system allowing the people of Haiti to collect water from Port au Prince’s Artibonite River and at the same time, filter it to a standard that is safe to drink (after boiling).

Gareth James, the IET’s Head of Education, said, “It is great to be part of the Big Bang Fair, which is billed as the UK’s largest single celebration of science and engineering.  

“The UK’s journey to a low-carbon economy makes the next generation of engineers and scientists potentially among the most important in our history.  Thousands of high quality engineers will be needed to make it a reality.  We will face a number of challenges though, such as where the next generation of engineers and scientists will come from.  This is why events like the Big Bang are vital in raising the profile of engineering to young people.”

Research by EngineeringUK suggests that the UK will need to recruit 587,000 new workers into engineering and manufacturing over the period 2007 – 2017. At present there is a significant shortage of STEM graduates and teachers. The Big Bang Fair aims to reinvigorate interest among young people in pursuing a STEM career.

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