9 April 2015

Cool Science wows at the Big Bang Fair

Cool Science proved to be a big hit at the 2015 Big Bang Fair, the largest UK youth event which attracted over 75,000 young scientists and engineers, teachers, parents and STEM professionals.

Cool Science had a prime location to showcase the industry among the 170 stands and interacted with over 12,000 young people over 4 incredibly busy days. The stand proved a huge draw, with its eye-catching design and a fantastic range of fun interactive areas, with a constant swarm of visitors and a led to a remarkable level of engagement with young people, interested to learn more about the science behind Refrigeration. The stand was also visited by VIPs such as CBBC, Newsround, TV’s Marty Jopson and Science Minister Greg Clarke MP.

Everything The Big Bang Fair does is aimed at showing young people aged from around seven to 19 years old just how many exciting and rewarding opportunities there are out there for them with the right experience and qualifications. Big Bang works with partner organisations across business and industry, government and academia to try and give a flavour of the real scale of engineering and science in the UK. At its heart Big Bang is about careers and futures and highlighting the exciting possibilities that exist for young people with science, technology, engineering and maths backgrounds. It’s about the contribution they, with the right motivation, can make to the UK economy and to society in general. 

The areas of the stand included four members of the Mad Science team, with dry ice experiments, adding some theatre to draw passing visitors. It also featured two bespoke hand-built bicycle-powered refrigeration machines (‘The Refrigeration Cycle’ #BicyCool), designed and hand built by Dr. Ed Hammond of ECH Engineering. The harder you pedal, the colder it gets, and the temperature was displayed on large LED displays above the rider, encouraging some friendly competition. This was a great demonstration of a vapour compression refrigeration system - its components, the energy input required, and the cooling effect.

Also proving very popular was the hand-made ‘Cool Science’ sign, spelt out by frosty pipework, this was a very tactile exhibit for young people to see and feel cooling in action. The engineer who built it, Stuart Blackman of AB Group,was on hand to explain more about it. Other parts of the stand included a thermal imaging camera, an ipad quiz and slideshows about Fantastic Fridges, a new website for young people from the IoR, as well as slides explaining the new Apprenticeship Standard for RACHP engineers, launched by government the same week as the Big Bang Fair.

The Cool Science stand was all staffed by over 20 keen young engineering volunteers from RACHP companies, who engaged with the visitors, encouraging them to ask questions and telling them how to find out more about the Cool Science behind our industry and the career routes available.

'The estimate is that there are approximately 70,000 people working in the UK cooling industry,' said Chris Vallis, AB Group & Founder of Cool Science. 'It’s a huge sector. We suffer from the symptoms as the whole engineering sector, where we have a skills gap, and I believe young people are who we need to be talking to plug that gap, encouraging them to continue studying STEM subjects and making them aware, they can become trained in this field. For example by taking up an apprenticeship under the new apprenticeship standard from 2017 in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning now approved by government. We hope to keep the momentum with Cool Science to continue this work. Hopefully after seeing what we have managed to achieve in 2015, industry support will grow to keep Cool Science moving forwards.'

President of the Institute of Refrigeration, Graeme Maidment, spent the day on the Cool Science stand and was impressed with what was achieved. 'Coming along to help out with Cool Science at the Big Bang Fair, I was really impressed with what was achieved. Cool Science was a fantastic success and it gave us as an industry the opportunity show large numbers of young people that we are a brilliant career choice.'

This initiative was only possible because of the support that it received from members of our industry, I would like to thank everyone who volunteered and supported the show, especially Chris Vallis and his team at AB Group who came up with the whole concept of Cool Science and made it happen. For me, Cool Science is so important, it highlights to young people the opportunity and challenges of a career in Refrigeration Air Conditioning & Heat Pumps, it’s fantastic!'

Tamzin Caffrey, head of communications at The Big Bang Fair said: 'What’s great about the Cool Science stand is it gives kids the opportunity to see the things they use in their everyday lives that they’re not really thinking about and get hands on to see how they work, and that it’s something they might be interested in doing later in life. Also there is a strong and serious message about getting more skills into this industry.'

The huge success of the inaugural Cool Science event at The 2015 Big Bang Fair has provided a fantastic springboard for Cool Science to continue. During and since the Fair, Cool Science has been approached to be involved in national science fairs and festivals, engineering schools programmes, national events for STEM education trusts, education charities and even to be part of the education platform for SSC Bloodhound Education Programme. With further support from the sector, Cool Science hopes to be back at the Big Bang Fair in 2016 and also participate in more events to continue to engage and inspire a younger and wider audience to join the industry.

Twitter @CoolScienceUK


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