Run by EngineeringUK, the Big Bang Fair is the UK’s largest STEM event for young people. It hosts shows, student competitions, panel discussions and stands with hands-on activities from a wide range of organisations in the STEM sector.
The Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) was greeted at the fair by Dr Hilary Leevers, CEO of EngineeringUK, and Malcolm Brinded, Chair of EngineeringUK. Dr Hilary Leevers guided her around the fair.
At the Discover Materials stand the GCSA tested how much energy was required to smash different chocolate bars with different densities, while at the Tech She Can stand, she was briefed about Tech She Can’s work to change the ratio of women in tech.
Next on the agenda was the Badminton School stand where an all-female student science outreach team showcased the effects of extreme temperatures using liquid nitrogen in a great example of peer-to-peer learning.
Dame Angela was then put through her paces at a panel discussion on the Meet the Future You stage, with questions from the younger STEM talent in the audience. Before leaving the fair, the GCSA met with many of the students competing in The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition who talked her through their projects and what they had discovered.
The next stop was Tyseley Energy Park which aims to transform clean energy innovation in Birmingham and the West Midlands by stimulating and demonstrating new technologies and turning them in to fully commercially viable energy systems, through collaborative partnerships with experts from the University of Birmingham, government and industry.
A welcome presentation was given by Professor Martin Freer, Director of the University of Birmingham’s Energy Institute and Energy Research Accelerator, and Robert Horsfall, Director of Webster & Horsfall Group. This was followed by a tour of the University of Birmingham’s Energy Innovation Centre’s hangar and of the UK’s largest hydrogen refuelling station which services 20 buses for the city of Birmingham. The GCSA was also shown a biomass plant on site which takes wood waste across the region and converts it into green electrons, which feed activity in the energy park. The tour also took in Webster & Horsfall manufacturing operations, which date back to 1720.
I had an incredibly interesting trip to Birmingham.
said Dame Angela McLean.
The enthusiastic young people I met at the Big Bang Fair were a breath of fresh air. I know the future of science and engineering in the UK is in good hands.
I hope many of them will go on to pursue careers in science and engineering and take up roles in establishments such as Tyseley Energy Park, which is running some really interesting initiatives that have the potential to make a real, tangible difference to the impacts of climate change. Tyseley Energy Park is a great example of what can be achieved when government, academia and industry all work together.