The Big Bang Science Fair, Birmingham NEC, 15-17 March 2012

There was a tangible buzz in the air when we arrived at the Arena.  We walked wide-eyed through the auditorium and were greeted by engineering giants; Rolls Royce, Airbus, Land Rover, Eon and Goodrich to name a few.  We found our stand and arranged the displays, proud of the achievements of YR6’s Lego Mindstorm robots, the Secondary STEM clubs and the winning entries of our first Caroline Chisholm School Science Fair.

 

Looking around, to say that the other school’s entries were inspirational, was an understatement. Adjacent to our stand stood a battery-powered kart, whose Key Stage 4 creators spoke with passion about their design ideas and all the challenges that they faced as a team. Without hesitation, they showed us a video of the kart’s inaugural lap around the playground; driver kitted out with donated seatbelt and motorcycle helmet. Opposite sat a fifteen year old Irish student who had developed a test to check the strength and authenticity of blood pressure and cholesterol controlling drugs (Ramipril and Simrastatin). Her aim was to make the test available for people who had to buy the drugs over the internet; using chemistry to aid peace of mind.

All around us students were willing to share their ideas, tests and conclusions with others. The diversity of projects revealed that we are intrigued by a myriad of biological, chemical, physical, engineering and mathematical puzzles. Commercial companies want students to ask these questions as it encourages more young people to enter STEM-based careers. One such company demonstrated how to make ice cream in less than five minutes; Saudi engineers provided the resources to grow tomatoes in the desert without water, whereas ambassadors from the Institute of Physics presented live data from the Large Hadron Collider in the Franco-Swiss border. The projects and stands were too numerous to detail here, but they are highlighted on the Big Bang Fair website:

www.thebigbangfair.co.uk

Mid-way through our day Y12 student, Aaron Westgarth. led us in conversation with Ken Sanders, Chair of the Young Engineers and shortly afterwards we proudly received our coveted Participation Award on behalf of all Caroline Chisholm STEM Clubs. What time we had left was spent returning to our “favourite” stands and gaining more ideas for our return next year. We have many plans, including adopting STEM club t-shirts, enlisting corporate sponsorship and entering into regional and national STEM competitions. Our aim is to return to the Big Bang Fair in 2013 with another contingent of engaging and enthusiastic Caroline Chisholm STEM ambassadors.