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STEM fair debuts in Suffolk and goes off with a big bang

A science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fair was held in Bury St Edmunds for the first time last Thursday.

The Big Bang Fair has been running for 11 years but made its debut in Suffolk and West Suffolk College last week.

Both primary and secondary schools visited the college to take part in an array of activities, ranging from extracting DNA to being catapulted into space via a planetarium.

Sexton Manor Primary School having been in the planetarium. Picture by Mecha Morton.
Sexton Manor Primary School having been in the planetarium. Picture by Mecha Morton.

Speaking on the day, Angela Berry, executive director of the college, said: “It’s been great, very hectic.

“It’s very different having primary schoolchildren on campus.

“The feedback has been fantastic, pupils have had their eyes widened by the fair.”

The fair was sponsored by Treatt, an ingredients manufacturer based in Bury St Edmunds, which also had a stall at the fair allowing students to guess what different flavours and fragrances were.

Workshops included Chemistry Chaos, DNA, cybr prevent and hands-on science, planetarium, showcase area and TWI chocolate welding, among exhibitors and shows.

Helen Spencer, from Setpoint Hertfordshire, who has delivered the Big Bang Fair from the last 11 years, said: “We’re an education charity which promotes STEM. This [the Big Bang Fair] was part of a national idea which was to promote not just STEM but careers young people can go into and maybe open their eyes to some of the careers that they might not see. A lot of children think now about becoming a doctor or a nurse but some careers haven’t even been invented yet.

“They need to be thinking about taking the right subjects so they can go into these jobs and see how interesting it is. There are lots of good STEM employers in Suffolk and Norfolk.”

The all-day fair welcomed primary school children from Westgate Community, Chilton Community, St Edmundsbury, St Mary’s Academy, Walsham-le-Willows, Sexton’s Manor, Westley Middle, Bacton, Abbots Green and Horringer Court and secondary school pupils from IES Breckland, Abbots Green, Stowmarket High, Sybil Andrews Academy and Stowupland High.

Helen added: “It’s going fantastic, all the children are having a really good time and seem to be really engaged. There are lots of things to do including hands-on with experiments.

“Treatt have got the children smelling different flavourings to see if they can guess what they are.

“There’s a lot for them to do and get involved with, it’s different from a normal school day.

“After today I’m sure they will want to do another one. It’s a lovely venue.”

Over 1,000 pupils attended the fair.

Nikos Savvas, chief executive of the college, said: “It is with great excitement that we are hosting the first Big Bang Fair here at the college and indeed the first one to be held in Suffolk.

“As leaders of the education in the east we are committed to ensuring every young person has access to engaging and developmental activities each year from the age of six to 16. These activities must improve the employability of young people emabling them to make informed decisions about their futures.

“We also want all young people to develop the character strengths they need to be successful in the next stage of their education and ultimately lead a fulfilled and rewarding life.”

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