As part of my outreach activities this year I participated in the speed networking sessions of the Big Bang Fair held last week in East London’s ExCeL centre. I had a great time at the previous London based Big Bang Fair in 2009 and since then the event has only got bigger, louder and more impressive. The ExCeL centre is a great venue for these large scale fairs, even if someone forgot to turn off the smoke alarms during the BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory stage show. But the organisers coped admirably with the ensuing evacuation and it gave us something to talk about before the day really started.
The speed networking sessions were organised by Inspiring Futures and included lots of people with different scientific backgrounds from nuclear engineers to bumble-bee psychologists (!). Groups of school kids were directed our way and given four minutes to quiz us about our career choices, subject areas and of course financial situations. On the whole the pupils seemed really interested and open to the different areas on offer. Some of course had already decided what career they want and would not be budged whether it was drama, history or theoretical physics they had opted for.
The sessions were ably organised by Ella Bujok who had to cope with missing school groups, the evacuation on the first day and the logistical problems of moving 60 children around a room in an orderly fashion every four minutes. She also kindly took the photos below for me to prove I didn’t just play in the Wallace and Gromit area all day. I tried to also get some pictures of the main arenas but it is hard to get a sense of the scale of the show from the few shots I managed to take. There are many better overviews in the Flickr page.