Royce and Discover Materials Deliver Materials Outreach at Big Bang Fair 2023

In partnership with the Henry Royce Institute (Royce), Discover Materials attended this year’s The Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair, which is held each year at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham. The event provides an opportunity for young people to engage with the scientific community to learn about STEM research and potential future careers. It was hosted this year between Wednesday 21 and Friday 23 June 2023.

The Discover Materials stand consisted of four islands featuring different themes within materials and related activities and experiments. These provided a chance for school students to get an exciting taste (quite literally!) of the materials science research happening across the UK.

The islands comprised a range of hands-on activities to showcase the exciting research that materials scientists undertake by presenting it in an accessible medium.

Area one featured optical microscopes, giving attendees the opportunity to look at the structure of materials  that can’t be seen by the human eye.  Area two included Discover Materials’ famous chocolate impact tester, which compares the properties of different chocolate bars under different conditions. This area also explored the nature of porous materials, utilising porous chocolate bars to illustrate this principal.

Area three comprised of a demonstration of lithium-ion batteries through a “battery Jenga” amongst a variety of other activities, demystifying energy systems for event attendees and demonstrating how batteries can be made with everyday objects.

Area four provided a comprehensive overview of the requirements and qualifications needed to pursue a career in materials. Information for parents and teachers supporting pupils in choosing their GCSEs and A-levels was also provided, in line with the Royce Outreach team’s initiative to inspire a new generation of materials scientists by promoting the subject and improve accessibility through the provision of clear career guidance and practical advice.

Tom Hancocks, Training and Skills Manager at Royce said:

“It’s great that Royce has been able to support Discover Materials in their attendance at Big Bang Fair once again. It is a brilliant opportunity to engage young minds in materials science and encourage them to think about how it draws on research from across STEM fields. Given the right guidance, the people we meet may go on to become the scientists and engineers of the future, creating new materials, understanding how to recycle or reuse old devices, and reducing the carbon emissions of everything we make in our society as part of our net zero goals and by providing.”

Over 30,000 young STEM enthusiasts attended the event from including school groups, parents, teachers and carers, making the festival the biggest celebration of science, engineering, technology and mathematics in the UK!

Ambassadors joined Discover Materials and Royce at the Big Bang Fair from University of Manchester, Swansea University, University of Birmingham, University of Sheffield, Imperial College London, the Faraday Institution.

Dr. Chris Hamlett, Henry Royce Institute’s National Outreach Officer for Discover Materials explained:

Discover Materials attended the Big Bang Fair to inspire the next generation of Materials Scientists and Engineers and to demonstrate the breadth of the MSE discipline, which covers chemistry, biology, physics, design and technology.

Royce and Discover Materials continue to deliver outreach in partnership to inspire the next generation of materials scientists and engineers. Further information about MSE outreach activities can be found on the Discover Materials website.

Discover Materials is a collaboration between a group of UK Universities, the Henry Royce Institute, and other members of the materials science community with a mission to inspire school pupils and their teachers into learning about materials science and engineering.

As the UK’s national institute for advanced materials, Royce is committed to inspiring the next generation of materials scientists and engineers into the field. Alongside providing access to our national cutting-edge research facilities, Royce is actively fostering an engaged learning community in materials science and engineering throughout the UK. To find out more about outreach at Royce visit: https://www.royce.ac.uk/outreach/