Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Big Bang Fair and scientific inspiration

Yesterday we went on a day out (we've not been on a day out for aaaages, Mummy!), which I had been a bit nervous about, not having been out and about much as a family of five.  I considered this to be good training for when I take all three children to London alone after Easter (I am currently in denial that this is going to be anything other than plain sailing, despite the fact that BabyM seems to have forgotten to emerge from the other side of the 4 month sleep regression, despite now being a venerable 6 months old).

Anyway, it was a bargain that tempted me out of my comfort zone, when I would normally be sitting drinking tea and eating Sunday lunch prepared by MilM. I am sure she was devastated to have a week off from cooking for and entertaining her eldest son, his wife and many children, but she handled the disappointment well.

We went to the NEC's Big Bang Fair, where the tickets are completely and absolutely free; as are all of the things that you can do / watch / participate in inside.  There must be an awful lot of money pumped in to this by lots of organisations, but the general idea is to inspire kids to consider further education in the sciences. I enjoyed science at school, with the notable exception of physics.  I think this was probably more to do with my physics teachers (one of whom smelt dreadful, and the other one took an instant dislike to me - probably because I invariably did my homework at the back of the room at the start of the lesson) than the subject, but anyway. Back then the teachers seemed unconcerned about encouraging girls to study sciences. I got top grades in GCSE science, but was not approached by any of my teachers to consider A-Levels. I am not sure that I would have done, but the fact that I was not encouraged, and was allowed to quietly drop all three would probably not happen now. Perhaps then I would have a useful degree.  Although in fairness, I think I was destined to teach, and am not sure that me in a room with thirty youths and various poisonous and flammable materials is a very good idea at all.

I digress. A has said for years that she wants to be a food scientist. C varies between Rollercoaster Tester and Game Designer.  However, yesterday he decided he wants to be a chemist.  This is mainly because the nice chemist man asked him lots of questions that he could answer, and flattered him, then gave him colouring pencils and a sticker.  Perhaps they should rename the fair the Bribe Kids to Study Science Fair. Not quite so snappy perhaps.

Still, they learned lots, and were very inspired, and MrM and I enjoyed the show put on by the man that eats vile things on Incredible Edibles on the telly. BabyM liked looking around at everything, smiling at random strangers, and eating our lanyards.  He did NOT like the explosions, which happened frequently, and at random. Bless him.

I predict a resurgence of interest in our science books. We have a few.  For littlies, these are great. I have read several of them on many more occasions than I care to remember.  Might be worth reading them through yourself first: some sensitive kids might balk at the food chain one, and some sensitive parents might balk at the one that hints about the birds and the bees.

Moving on this contains both cartoons and experiments, which is a particularly engaging combination.

For older children How to Make a Universe with 92 Ingredients is an approachable introduction to the wider questions of how stuff is made up of other smaller bits of stuff.

The Big Bang Fair is on every year, and there are events spread throughout the country during the year. We will definitely be making our way there again next year. It's aimed at ages 7-16, and there is a fair bit of waiting around involved, but the activities and shows, are, in general, worth the wait.  The gumpf says to allow three hours to see everything, but we were there for five and only really went in one of the halls, so next year will be heading down for the entire day.

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