Aiming to inspire, engage and entertain: The Young people’s programme at the British Science Festival
The British Science Festival's Young People Programme ran from Monday 8 September to Thursday 11 September 2014. This focussed, interactive schedule comprised two main strands: under- and post-16 with the aim of engaging school and college students in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) disciplines.
The college of Engineering and Physical Sciences made significant contributions to the programme, with staff and students planning and delivering 17 unique science activities in a variety of formats from lectures and debates to hands-on workshops.
Every School in the College was represented, helping to inspire young participants in a full range of Engineering and Physical Science subjects. With total visitor numbers estimated at 80,000, 3,000 14-19 year-olds from the UK and abroad attended the Young People’s programme events and sessions.
The under 16s attended as part of schools groups and started and ended their visits with keynote lectures, one of which was run by Dr Nick Hawes of the School of Computer Science, who gave his session “The Tale of the Kidnapped Robot” on the opening day to a total of 580 students. Professor Bill Chaplin also delivered a keynote lecture on “Sounding stars and the search for new worlds in our Galaxy” to over 650 young people.
After the keynote welcomes, groups attended two interactive activities with the option to participate in a Science and Careers action zone run by the University providing informative insight into STEM careers. College activities in the Under-16 strand included the exploration of gravity by dropping fruit from the Physics Bridge and discovering the Mathematics of Game Shows. On the closing day, the format changed and Year 11 students were invited into the University’s Great Hall to compete in the Science Big Quiz, which included rounds on Chemistry, Maths and Physics led by EPS colleagues.
The post-16 programme allowed students more freedom to choose sessions of relevance or interest, with around 30-40 students attending each day. College staff and students designed and ran a variety of activities of varying lengths to allow these students to explore new areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These sessions were longer than the pre-16 program, which allowed some staff to design more in-depth experiences to allow the students to truly get to grips with challenging subjects. These covered areas such as the Big Bang, Nanotechnology, Drugs in Sport and Energy. There were also more interactive sessions from a range of EPS Schools on subjects as diverse as the maths of zombies and particle physics.
The College of Engineering and Physical Sciences is committed to public engagement and outreach. The College has a strong team of staff and students involved in public engagement activities who aim to inspire the next generation or young scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. To find out more about outreach activity please visit the EPS outreach webpage.