The Big Bang Fair London was a fantastic event held over two days in July 2013. The event was a huge success with school-children of all ages from across London seeing some fantastic STEM arranged across four floors of the Westminster Kingsway College.
New Ways to Learn Ltd were there armed with two leading-edge technological concepts, each of which wowed the children and teachers in (almost) equal measure. Our focus was very much on showcasing Augmented Reality and 3D-Printing which didn’t just have the ‘wow-factor’, but are technologies and concepts which are accessible to schools today, and which will seriously enhance the way teaching and learning happens over the coming years.
Our Augmented Reality (AR) demonstrations were the ‘show-stealer’. AR is where paper-based images ‘come alive’ when viewed through an iOS or Android tablet or smartphone. The demo’s we had included 3D-models and videos.Without a doubt this was hugely popular, the favourites being our AR-peacock which struts his stuff around a piece of paper, the dancing Coke-can, Mona Lisa riding a bucking-bronco, the Rolling Stones in concert on a t-shirt and our newspaper back-page which shows Lewandowski rattling the back of Real Madrid’s net!! Needless to say, more popular with the teachers were our textbooks and worksheets which come alive, our Paper Portal which will revolutionise home-school communication and the internal organs of the abdomen which augment onto a child’s chest.
The 3D Printer also intrigued many. We showcased how to to go from 3D design, to print, to augmentation as an all-through process – Project-Based Learning will never be the same again!! The printer we showcased was the Robuster from RPTechWorks which is ideally priced and intuitive for the classroom. The key with 3D printing for schools is to make sure that it isn’t the sole preserve of the D&T Department; you need to show the vertabrae in Science or get hold of a skull for that production of Hamlet? Print them out at school!?!
The amazed young faces were not exclusive to our room either. Just outside the Stemettes (@Stemettes) were busy taking youngsters through the process of forensic investigation, complete with finger-printing and (thankfully fake) blood. Meanwhile upstairs Beauty by the Geeks (@BeautyByGeeks) were packed-out with practical sessions showing the Science behind beauty-products and cosmetics, engaging visitors in making their own. Both of these are doing some fantastic work in getting girls in particular interested involved and engaged in Science, although their stands were also notable by the number of boys getting well-into-it!?!
Also busy engaging all in STEM projects were CREST Awards (@CRESTAwards) and the Young Rewired State (@youngrewired) with their brilliant programmes aimed at bringing longer-term STEM interest and project-learning to youngsters of all ages.
The Big Bang Fair London was a fantastic experience for all involved, and we only heard immensely positive feedback from everyone we spoke to; teachers, exhibitors and, most importantly, the youngsters themselves. Big Bang Fair events go on throughout the year on both national and regional levels and we’d highly recommend checking out the website and Twitter account for future events near you. The key factor was that youngsters, from primary through to A-Level, all went away having learnt things about STEM and been exposed to its application beyond the classroom wall.