So apparently it was everywhere – on TV, on the radio, in the newspapers, so as the name may describe quite aptly, it was BIG. And it drew a big crowd – 22,545 people came along, joined by nine robots, a lemur, a coffee-powered car, and an Olympic gold medallist. No, not THE big bang, the start of the universe as we know it and everything… so what drew everyone in?
The Big Bang fair in Manchester’s Central Exhibition centre boasted a broad range of organisations who were showing off tech and exhibitions, some of which allowed participants to take part in interactive activities; such as extracting iron from corn flakes and chocolate welding! Added to this the casts of BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory, Punk Science and Braniac putting on live shows to wow, and you have yourself an excellent and educational day out.
On top of this there were stands from some of the finalists of the CREST and National Science and Engineering awards showing off their projects - the winners of which were presented with their prizes at the fair by Lord Mandelson. It was incredible the kind of things that the students, aged 11-18, were getting involved with; some of them looked a lot like 3rd year undergraduate lab projects! So it’s good to know that these sorts of projects are indeed inspiring and enthusing young people to get involved with science. Related to this, the stands had scientists and engineers from the companies, not only to explain what they do – but to talk to young people about their careers. Very handy.
So why were we there? Well I and Beki went along to do some science busking at the British Science Association stand. Science busking… What on earth is that? In short, it’s a way of getting across scientific ideas succinctly and in a fun and interesting manner. Not only were we talking to kids about what sounds were with glove-o-phones, explaining visual illusions, letting them shoot us with air-bazookas, using Styrofoam cups to explain lift, etc, but we took our toys to a pub afterwards. Have a look at the pictures from the day:
(Also, look at the pictures from the BBC)
It was an interesting experience, definitely a lot of fun. Also, quite challenging in a lot of ways – ever thought how you could explain what vibrations are to a seven year old?
The stand also included some mice and creepy crawlies to link in with their theme for National Science and Engineering Week: What on Earth? The kids loved that, too.
The Big Bang fair has more regional counterparts, so keep a look out for those.