What is set to be new, bigger and better about this year’s Big Bang fair?
This year we are working with more than 120 different science, technology and engineering organisations to make this our biggest fair yet. We’ve kept the very popular headline shows from last year – BBC’s Bang goes the Theory and Sky’s Brainiac Live!, and added to our range of workshops, covering everything from the science behind sound to McLaren’s latest technologies, and made sure that our interactive stands, such as The Secret Life of Snot, offer something for everyone.
Why is it being held at ExCeL this year rather than Manchester?
We want as many young people, teachers and parents as possible to be able to take part in The Big Bang, so we take the event to a different city every year. We already have big plans for The Big Bang 2012. I’ve just got back from Birmingham NEC, which is our venue for next year – and is 50% bigger than ExCeL!
Have lessons from past fairs informed the way in which this year’s event will run?
The Big Bang 2011 is the third year of the STEM spectacular and we learn lessons every year that will help make the next a bigger, better success. We evaluate the success of the fair by talking to our key audience of young people along with their teachers and parents, both at and after the event itself. Last year they told us that they loved the shows and the hands-on activities, along with the opportunity to talk to real scientists and engineers and we’ve built on that feedback in putting together this year’s fair.
What are the main attractions at the fair likely to be?
There really is something for everyone, so it’s hard to choose. Visitors can pre-book one headline theatre show (Brainiac Live! or Bang Goes the Theory) and one workshop. And then we’d recommend a further two to four hours to take in as much of the rest of the fair as possible. There is so much to see – including the NeXt Factor, Go Global, Energise and Body Talk zones – as well as the activities in Capital Hall and Making Trax. We’ll have expert guides on hand, as well as a comprehensive showguide (programme) to help everyone get the most from their visit.
How many visitors are you expecting?
We have already beaten the targets we set ourselves and, with two weeks to go, there are more than 26,000 pre-registrations for the fair. We’re really pleased about how popular The Big Bang has been with schools and families in and around London and beyond.
Several recent studies have shown that the perception of science and engineering among youngsters is not all it could be. How can the fair help change this?
We’re tackling these outdated perceptions head-on. The Big Bang works with the wider science and engineering community to show young people how exciting science and engineering really is. In 2010, more than 70% of secondary school pupils who attended The Big Bang said it had increased their understanding of careers in engineering and almost 60% said it had made them more likely to choose a career that needs a science, technology, engineering or maths qualification.
More than simply a great day out though, The Big Bang aims to deliver ongoing engagement with young people, their parents and teachers – a “year round conversation”. The regional fairs that take place around the country in the summer provide an opportunity for more young people to experience close to home the excitement and opportunities available through science, technology, engineering and maths. And we work with the media and online to help more young people understand that studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects at school, college and university can open up a whole range of exciting and rewarding careers opportunities.
- The Big Bang fair runs from March 10-12 at ExCel. For more information and to register, visit www.thebigbangfair.co.uk