Friday, 16 March 2012

The Big Bang Fair At Birmingham


We had so much fun. We left school around 8.45, arriving an hour later, and walked from the coach park to the exhibition halls


First, we sat in on a workshop about Science Superheroes


And we learned about super-strength, super-sight and flight.

Entering the show itself, we split into three groups – so the children between them managed to see most of the exhibits. There was way too much to see in the time available. I cannot show you [identifiable] pictures of the children – although I took dozens of photos for the school display.


Many stands were aimed at secondary schools, and encouraging young people to consider careers in science and engineering. There was plenty to interest my younger friends though. Full marks to the Welding Institute for teaching us to make box girders by welding Milky Bars – and then to test them with weights.

DSCF3407The Universities of Kent and Lancaster had great interactive stands. The latter had a stationary bicycle which generated energy. The kids all took their turn at pedalling furiously. The show had been going for two days before any teacher was brave enough to have a go.

Does my bum look big on this saddle?

I must keep dieting!


We enjoyed watching the Land Rovers driving at alarming angles over metal ramps.

Meanwhile others from the class were meeting Ellen McArthur, and others were getting themselves filmed by the BBC.

There were lots of freebies too!


Pens, a ruler a ‘mug for the teacher’, badges, furry mascots… we returned to the coach carrying bags of stuff . I must tell you that most of the class were really excited that they were getting to keep their lanyards – I didn’t let on that I have dozens of these on a hook in my craft cupboard! One day I am sure I will find a good use for these [any suggestions?]

The University of Surrey had a great Physics stand. My lot all made a beeline for that [mainly to enter the ‘Win an i-pod’ prize draw!] Trying to explain the idea of Schrodinger's Cat to an eight-year-old is jolly hard! Especially when they are concerned for the welfare of the cat. Fortunately there was an explanatory card telling them that no actual cat was hurt!

DSCF3428They also gave out sweets.

I brought my sweet home and put it in a box labelled thus - “In this box is a sweet. On the sweet is a picture. Without opening the box, tell me what the picture is”

Bob picked it up, read the label and said [immediately] “It is a cat!” Once a physicist, always a physicist…


We were back at school by 3pm – and everyone went home happy – but exhausted! I don’t know how many of them have now decided they want a career as scientists, but maybe some seeds were sown!


  1. My vet's cat is called Shrodinger..what else!
    Jane x

  2. Oh dear, the cat thing sounds dreadfully like chaos theory - or do I mean string theory? Or quantum mechanics? - in which something is supposed to be in two states at once. Very confusing to a literalist like me. Honestly it sounds almost more like philosophy than physics (and I'm terrible at philosophy too).

    Other than that the fair sounds like great fun.

    P.S. No, your bum doesn't look big on the bike. :)

  3. I have to admit to being quite jealous that you got to visit the Big Bang Fair - I've been a Competition Judge at the last two and both have been amazing - I'm sure it's just got better this year as publicity etc has picked up.

    Hopefully I'll be able to bring a class of my own there next year (it's in London, so may be more difficult for your group).

    I'm glad to see the chocolate welding there again, and that the Uni of Surrey (with the South East Physics Network?) had a good stand - I've been to some of their outreach events in the past and they've been great!

  4. Thanks for the comment Sarah. I noticed that there were coaches from all over the country at the NEC yesterday - particularly the north of England. It is good that the venue changes, if only to allow different regions to enjoy the show!
    I would have liked to have had time to check out exhibits without children to supervise - there were many things that interested me that were way above them.


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