Society of Biology volunteer Naomi Hartopp from the University of York describes her experience at the Big Bang Fair
Even the most mature professionals couldn’t help showing their excitement at the spectacular exhibitions on show at the Big Bang Fair, and who can blame them? For a few days, the Birmingham NEC was transformed into a circus of experiments and tricks to get children of all ages engaged in the vast field of science. With companies directly working in research, universities and even car manufacturers such as Rolls Royce who employ engineers, there was something to suit every interest.
Visitors had the chance to measure their skill and accuracy using a Nintendo Wii at the “Understanding life” stand, test their attention span at the Aston University stand, play DNA games and find out what it feels like to be deaf courtesy of the Medical Research Council. These are just a few of over 150 different science related activities on offer, proving the enormous variety of scientific applications in use in many different industries.
The Society of Biology got people interested at their stand, offering interactive activities which seemed to be a bit hit with children of all ages, and even the parents. No matter what your age, none of us can resist checking how ‘good’ our heart is, especially when it means you get to play with a little electronic device, or make it a competition with your brother! Heart rate monitors were accompanied by real plasticised goat’s hearts, dissected to show the different chambers and valves and, for those who thought biology was tedious, a video of a horse’s heart and lung dissection attracted attention. Those with weaker stomachs were more interested in the model joints used by volunteers at the stand to demonstrate how sport’s and other injuries occur. There’s still a chance to have a go – make an articulated hand from instructions on the Society of Biology website.
Volunteering with the Society of Biology at the fair involved talking to school children, parents and on occasion professionals who were just interested in how young people were being encouraged to interact at particular stands. There is always a demand for the next generation of students to become involved in science subjects, and getting them interested is half of the battle; the Big Bang Fair seems to be a great way to showcase organisations, and to develop that all important early interest in the next generation of upcoming students.
If you are interested in volunteering at events for the Society of Biology please contact Jenna (firstname.lastname@example.org)