Big Bang Fair 2017: back, and bigger than ever!

Author: Mirren White
Posted: 1 Feb 2017 | 16:17

We are only two months away from 2017’s Big Bang Fair. We’ll be attending again this year, planning to wow kids of all ages with a hands-on look into the world of supercomputing.

The Big Bang Fair is a four-day intensive science festival held at the NEC in Birmingham. Now in its ninth year, it invites schoolchildren and families from all over the UK to attend and learn more about science and engineering. It particularly focuses on children aged 11-14, and hopes to use its wide variety of experiences, along with extensive careers events, to encourage children to consider careers in STEM fields.

On Monday 9th January I travelled down to the NEC for the kick-off meeting, which was a great chance to meet the organisers and other exhibitors for this year’s fair, and get an idea of what it will be like this year. It looks like a lot of fun! I spoke to some of the exhibitors and got a chance to hear about all of the cool science and engineering demos they will be showcasing this year – robots, wind tunnels, and a journey through the body are just some of the highlights we got to hear about. Competing with those we will of course be bringing along Wee Archie, who was one of the talking points of last year’s show.

In its ninth year, the Fair is bigger than ever - currently there are 51,000 registrations, a 13% increase on 2016's Fair. 61% of attendees this year will be in the key 11-14 age range, primed and ready to think about their future careers and the subjects they will need to study to get there.

Preparing for the Fair is a lot of work! There is the administration side, of course, which is important – ensuring we all get there and have all of our stuff when we do – but the more interesting part is developing the content for our stand to ensure we have a fun and engaging set of activities that also meet our key education outcomes.

This part can also be a lot of fun! At the Fair last year, we showcased Wee Archie along with the Build a Supercomputer App and the postal sorting parallelism demo. This year we have a new demo running on Wee Archie, so we are trying to create new activities to go with it. Our new demo consists of a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation of a plane’s wing – kids will be able to change the shape of the wing and from this see how well their creations will fly… or not.

So, with this as our inspiration, we are currently in the process of creating a stand idea that will introduce key supercomputing concepts to show off how supercomputers can be used to improve our everyday lives. This is always a fun process – we have had paper-plane making contests in the past to test ideas – and will result in our stand being even better than last year. This year we ended up having a Lego building session to test desgins for Wee Archlet - see some of our creations below!



Mirren White, EPCC

Mirren on Twitter: @mirrenwhite

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