STEM event – Big Bang Solent 2019

April the 25th. In 1719 Daniel Defoe publishes Robinson Crusoe. Francis Crick and James Watson publish their discovery of the double helix structure of DNA in Nature in 1953. Bell labs announce the 1st solar battery made from silicon in 1954. Finally on a space note, in 1990 the shuttle Discovery places the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. It was also the day 100s of students attended Big Bang Solent.

5 Girls learning how to fold an origami boat
5 Girls learning how to fold an origami boat

The event

Big Bang Solent is a fantastic event to expose students from 14 schools to the vibrant world of STEM. There was everything from nitrogen powered piston engines to VR trash collection to engage the next generation. Of course, slightly biased in saying the boat building exercise was the best bringing together design, materials and strangely career advice too!

It was encouraging to see a number of marine businesses attending like BAE to showcase  how awesome this industry is. Despite this increase it would be great though to have a few more in the future though!

The beauty of events like these is that with the EBP’s strong presence in schools, all companies need to do is design an event (get it checked on health and safety) and attend. It really couldn’t be much easier (if you would like a hand creating activities, it is something that I can help with)! The other side is the wider pipeline, although there’s quicker return engaging older students, by sparking the interest of younger pupils it will increase the number of older students to work with.  

Learning points

The main activity was nothing too crazy again, revolving around a very simple activity of making boats with the challenge to see how many stones could be carried. As well as this, we also looked into material properties and structures as well as career options within the industry. A brief summary of what the students learned:

  1. Hand eye coordination in the folding of boats, not as simple as it seams to some of them.
  2. Tension, compression and how adding a core to composite materials increases it stiffness
  3. How there is an equivalent job in the marine industry for almost all land based jobs.

As it was a school day it meant I also had a few things to learn:

  1. Ensure that the questionnaire tool is actually saving the results!
  2. More sweets are needed!
  3. Still more people are required!

Super pleased I’ve managed to write this up on the same day as the event so here are a few photographs fresh from the event!

Also, if you’d like to learn more about what went on then click here: the EBP. If you’d like to learn about other events that I’ve done that are similar then click on the following: Inspiring Engineers at Big Bang Solent and Get Inspired Southampton 2018!

Boys learning how to fold their origami boats
Boys learning how to fold their origami boats

Girls testing their boats out
Girls testing their boats out

Conrad Manning Racing

Conrad Manning Racing is born from Conrad’s goal of sailing around the world. The challenge is to complete it in one of the most technologically advanced sailing boats in the world, the IMOCA60. Due to the wide range of engineering disciplines required in sailing, a project was set up to use the sport to inspire future generations. The project draws from Conrad’s experience on the water as well as working for a leading yacht design house to deliver fun and relevant workshops and talks. It aims to work together with families, industry and organisations to support the students. Ultimately  the goal is to create an engaging pathway that those students can follow to become the next generation of engineers.

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