Seismic STEM buzz amongst young pupils generated at The Big Bang Fair 2017

Issued: Tue, 27 Jun 2017 17:18:00 BST

A good name is essential for any event like this, and it perhaps illustrates the confidence and importance felt by organisers that, in naming it after what is almost certainly the single greatest event in human history, they aim to evoke a similar life-altering experience in those young people who attend The Big Bang Fair Scotland 2017.

Housed within Perth College’s Academy of Sport and Wellbeing, the hall really does buzz and hum with activity as nearly 50 organisations ranging from Scottish Water to Greenpower organisations to Strathclyde Passenger Transport vie for the attentions of the 700 young people in attendance.

Wendy Findlay, one of the Energy Skills Partnership organisers and Employer Support Manager with Engineering UK’s Tomorrow’s Engineers' Initiative, is fully aware of the effect a day like this can have on the future of young students, she said: “The aim is to provide positive STEM career engagement for the students, not just so that they get to interact with a STEM activity, but also that those on the stalls talk about their careers. So if they’re scientists, engineers or if they have a technical background they can discuss that.”

“Schools haven’t had to pay to come; we’ve tried our best to make that happen. It’s for the kids; if they have a conscious awareness of STEM then they can make better decisions about their careers.”

This huge event isn’t just for organisations to promote their STEM credentials though; numerous workshops, activities, presentations and advice are taking place alongside. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) from Montrose provide a spirited talk about the 20 million people who benefit from their products and the sheer amount of work that goes into developing each project.

With a strong focus on apprenticeships, GSK strongly support the STEM Ambassador programme with 50 alone within the Montrose plant. Mel Robertson, responsible for the apprenticeship programme in his area, said: “I make sure all of our apprentices are STEM Ambassadors. We go all around school and do talks as sometimes university isn’t for everyone and we’re trying to promote our apprenticeship programme to those young people.”

The Big Bang Fair itself is hugely interactive with building and construction workshops, interactive demonstrations and hugely popular virtual reality stalls employed by Aqua Terra and Dundee and Angus College.

Ross, an S2 pupil from Balfron High in Stirlingshire, was able to see how his own tech interests dovetailed with some of the careers on display. He said: “I think it’s a cool experience as it helps to make you think about what you want to do in the future. We like making games so we really liked the virtual reality used at some of the stalls.”

Games and challenges were also a large part of the day with one of the most popular being Optima, a research group created through collaboration between University of Strathclyde and the University of Edinburgh, who had a Twister-like game that educated, enlightened and caused much hilarity.

Jenny Gracie, STEM Ambassadors and PhD student, said: “This is a great opportunity to expose different sides of science to kids. It shows how lots of different disciplines can overlap where we’re still able to show kids what sciences can do and what real life applications they can have.”

For more information visit The Big Bang Scotland

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