Big bang diary

Posted on 3 Apr 2012

Following the Big Bang Fair at the Birmingham NEC in March, Paul Jackson, CEO of EngineeringUK and The Big Bang Education CIC, looks back on the event to consider the impact it made on its young audience.

We’ve spent a year of planning, preparing and promoting the careers message which is so central to The Big Bang and through our events and activities we have built a dedicated following. Over 8,000 young people, teachers and parents now ‘like’ us on Facebook and The Big Bang Fair’s Twitter account has over 2,500 followers kept up to date about our activities.

On 15-17 March the fair itself finally burst into life for this eager crowd, making the fourth national event the biggest and best yet. With over three days of wall-towall science and engineering shows, activities and workshops, the fair attracted 56,000 visitors, with young people, teachers and parents totaling 49,000 – almost doubling last year’s numbers.

Over 150 organisations came together at the fair to let young people see the vast range of exciting opportunities available through science and engineering careers. This represents an unprecedented partnership between government, education, industry and the wider science and engineering communities.

The National Science & Engineering Competition Awards Ceremony, held on Friday 16 and hosted by Bang Goes the Theory’s Liz Bonin and Science Junkie Greg Foot, celebrated the achievements of 360 talented young finalists. The Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, presented the UK Young Engineers of the Year and the UK Young Scientist of the Year with their prizes after they were singled out by a panel of world-class judges, including Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Sir Tim Hunt, and the Science Museum’s Inventor in Residence Mark Champkins.

Wasim Miah and Jessica Jones, from St David’s College in Cardiff, were named Young Engineers of the Year for their impressive portable device that combines electronics and mechanics to measure the intensity of foetal contractions, providing a clear and simple indication when mothers are about to go into labour.

The UK Young Scientist of the Year, Kirtana Vallabhaneni, from West Kirby Grammar School, was awarded for her ground-breaking work helping to identify the harmful cells that cause pancreatic cancer. The finalists of the competition exhibited their projects over the three days of the fair, and speaking to these young future scientists and engineers has been rewarding and inspirational. It makes me very proud of the fair’s role in showcasing the young talent we have in this country.

It’s hard to sum up the unique quality of The Big Bang Fair. If you compared it to a football stadium, we’d be behind only Old Trafford and Arsenal for capacity. To fully appreciate the size of the event and the energy in the programme you really have to see it for yourself. The fair is so much more than a fun day out. It presents science and engineering in a fresh new way and inspires young people to consider careers in these varied and vital sectors. It challenges out-dated perceptions about science and engineering careers to give young people a real picture of what twenty-first century STEM jobs are all about – and it works.

Early evaluation confirms the findings of our previous events: young people who attend the fair are more likely to choose a career that will require a qualification in science, technology, engineering or maths as a result of their visit. Without a doubt, the thousands of young people who come through the fair’s doors will be our future scientists and engineers.

The 2013 Big Bang Fair will take place on 14–16 March at ExCel London and Big Bang Near Me events take place nationwide all year round.

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There are many ways to support the Big Bang programme as an industry partner or trade body.

To find out more, contact Gemma Samlal on: [email protected] Follow us at: