Science Festival aims to inspire North's youngsters

Young people in the North East are to be given the chance to learn about science when the British Science Festival comes to Newcastle

British Science Festival
British Science Festival

Thousands of young people are to be given the chance to learn about the latest scientific breakthroughs.

The British Science Festival, thought to be the biggest event of its kind, will be held in Newcastle from September 7 to 12.

A schools programme of around 100 events will give pupils aged eight to 18 the opportunity to watch science shows, take part in workshops and engage with top researchers.

More than 4,000 youngsters will enjoy a taste of higher education during events taking place across Newcastle University and the festival will reach hundreds more at satellite venues Northumbria University, Newcastle City Learning Centre, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens and Woodhorn Museum.

Organisers of the festival say Newcastle’s successful track record in science engagement helped the city secure the event.

It comes after one of the city’s students – Emily O’Regan, from Newcastle College – was crowned 2013’s UK Young Scientist of the Year at the National Science and Engineering Competition Award in March.

Emily won the award for her project on the breeding and mating habits of a flock of Chilean flamingos, which she carried out while on placement at Washington Wetland Centre.

There is also a series of activities ongoing throughout the city to engage science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills.

These include Go4SET, which links teams of students with companies who offer a science work placement scheme, and Headstart Summer School run by Newcastle University which offers five-day residential summer schools in engineering, science, surveying and mapping.

Northumbria University has also developed STEM Star Student, an innovative giant floor game for Year 6 and 7 pupils.

The game is divided up into the STEM subject categories and the questions have been developed in collaboration with teachers to support the national curriculum. The Primary Engineer project in the city also aims to inspire designers and engineers of the future in primary schools and the Reece Scholarship scheme encourages Year 12 students to consider a career in STEM by awarding 30 scholarships per year.

The fund – which was set up by the late Dr Alan Reece – attracts sponsorship from GE Wellstream and is administered by St Cuthbert’s Catholic High School.

The Centre for Life is now the largest provider of schools science workshops in any European museum or science centre, and its curriculum-linked workshops allow pupils the chance to gain experience of cutting-edge DNA techniques and use research-grade high-tech equipment.

Sue Blakemore, school improvement adviser at Newcastle City Council, said: “Newcastle is very proud of its heritage and status as a city of science and we are determined to do all we can to continue to inspire and engage the next generation of world-class scientists and engineers.

“Partners across the North East are working hard to ensure our young people know about the exciting and varied careers science can lead to and the wealth of opportunities that are available to them – especially in scientific fields in which the North East is excelling such as life sciences, subsea and advanced manufacturing.

“The association’s decision to bring the British Science Festival to Newcastle this year is testament to the city’s efforts to nurture young talent and Newcastle’s appetite for science.

“It presents an unrivalled opportunity to shine a light on the city’s science and technology credentials and its legacy will mean youngsters benefit from outstanding opportunities long after the festival has rolled out of town.”

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