The Big Bang West Midlands Fair & Competition Launch 2019

We’ve kicked off the STEAM celebrations for The Big Bang West Midlands Fair 2019, with a launch event to showcase this year’s school’s competition!

Teachers from local West Midlands schools were invited to Staffordshire University, to find out more about The Big Bang Competition which is titled, ‘Going Underwater with STEAM’, and to explore how they could engage their students in the event.

Exhibitors, from local companies and the University, prepared stands full of interactive activities, in-line with the competition theme of plastic pollution. The evening then followed with 3 key speakers, who discussed the work the University does, the importance of The Big Bang Fair and what the competition entails.

Sue Reece, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience) at Staffordshire University, opened the evenings talks with a little introduction about the University, from which she handed over to broadcaster and scientist, Dallas Campbell.

Dallas Campbell

Dallas is a renowned for presenting some of TV’s most popular factual programmes, including The Gadget Show, Bang Goes the Theory, The Sky at Night, Stargazing Live and The Science of Stupid. He is passionate about educating young people in the world of science and really emphasises that asking ‘dumb questions’ is extremely important in the evolution of scientific discovery.

Dallas captivated the audience through anecdotes of his experiences within the scientific world as a broadcaster, whilst talking through his key points to engaging young people in science.

The pleasure of finding things out

“We need to teach kids the pleasure of finding things out. The shear joy of not knowing something, then finding something out and finding an answer. And asking dumb questions along the way is really, really important.”

The anaesthetic of familiarity

This point is from a quote by Richard Dawkins.

You’re my hero!

“The other thing that I think is really important when talking to young people about science is the people involved. I’m really lucky that I get to talk to interesting people, famous people.  I work a lot with Tim Peake and I worked very closely with him when he went up to the International Space Station in 2015. But it’s not just famous people, it’s the everyday people who make the world go around.”

Dallas described Julio and people like him as ‘real heroes’

Dallas then moved on to talk about a man called Julio from Mexico City, whose job is to unblock and maintain the massive pumps that keeps the sewage in the city moving. He spent time with Julio, whilst filming for Supersized Earth, where he joined him in a sewer dive. Click here to see episode clip.

He then proceeded to talk about the incredible engineering of a £2million bacon sandwich, created by Heston Blumenthal for Major Tim Peake, that was rocketed into space. Dallas presented to the audience a tin which was gifted to him by Tim Peake, containing the delicious meal. He also showed off a real space suit and talked about the important elements, that keeps an astronaut safe.

Claire Gwinnett

Following on from Dallas’ inspiring talk, Dr Claire Gwinnett from Staffordshire University took to the floor to talk about the plastic pollution crisis harming our oceans, rivers, lakes and their inhabitants. This set the scene for what The Big Bang West Midlands Competition is all about.

The Big Bang Competition: ‘Going Underwater with STEAM’

The objective of this project… to use STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) to investigate an aspect of underwater pollution and propose a solution.

Questions to tackle using STEAM:

  • How much plastic is there?

  • What is it made from?

  • How can we remove it?

  • How long will it last?

  • Can we create plastic alternatives?

Students are tasked with coming up with an innovative solution to plastic pollution in our oceans, rivers and lakes, allowing them to be creative and to think ‘outside the box’. They will submit their projects to The Big Bang West Midlands Fair in June 2019, from which they will be judged by a panel and the winners will be announced on the event day.

The winners will then have the opportunity to take their projects to the National Big Bang Fair at the NEC in 2020.

Find out more about the competition here.

The evening ended with a final farewell from Sue Reece and a chance to take photos with the space suit and speakers.

The Big Bang West Midlands Fair 2019

Tuesday 18th June 2019 at Staffordshire University.

Find out more here.

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