The first ever UK Young Scientist and Engineers Fair is taking place in the first week of March. The Big Bang Fair in the QE2 Conference Centre in Westminster will pit hundreds of schoolchildren against each other for the main prizes of UK Young Scientist and UK Young Technologist of the Year. There will also be exhibits run by all the main science and engineering bodies in the UK including the IOP, STFC and RAS.
This is clearly very similar to the long held Irish Young Scientists Exhibition, which has introduced many secondary level students to the joys (and problems) of research for the last forty-four years. Despite much badgering of my science teacher in school I never managed to enter the main competition, but I always tried to visit the RDS in the first week of January to see the show.
The new UK version of the competition is not open to the public unfortunately, so only registered school groups and some VIPs will be able to see the talks, workshops and competition exhibits. As part of my outreach activities I have volunteered to guide school groups on one of the exhibition days. While I won’t be speaking to them directly about my work, I think it will help that the volunteers all have a science based background and should be able to field most general questions about the whole scientific enterprise. I am doing this as part of the Science and Engineering Ambassadors (SEAs) program that I recently joined but which normally entails more direct outreach with school visits, careers fairs etc.
I imagine there will be a lot of media coverage in the run up to the event on the 4th-6th March, especially as this is both the International Year of Astronomy, and the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth.