The Thomas Hardye School

THS students visit the Big Bang Fair South West

Big Bang

The University of Exeter hosted this year’s Big Bang South West event at the end of June, giving students at Thomas Hardye a chance to showcase STEM project work that they had been carrying out throughout the year. Three groups of year 9 girls, presented their projects on sustainability to industry leaders and judges in the regional heat of the annual ‘National Science and Engineering Competition’. In the exhibition arena, a group of year 12 students also displayed their ongoing research into ‘Lyme disease in ticks’ - a collaboration with bio scientists at the University, funded by a Royal Society Partnership Grant. Throughout the event, industry leaders and professionals engaged with students about futures in STEM-based sectors around the South West. The event concluded with everyone being involved in the ‘Space Oddities’ workshop, and then a prize ceremony topped off a fascinating day.
The three projects that were entered into the NSEC competition all had sustainability as a main focus; the year 9 girls had been working hard in their lunch club, run by Mrs Adams over the past year. The students had developed their products further since competing in a STEM challenge for girls held at Bournemouth University in March organised by Soroptimist International of Bournemouth;
from modelling their hand made shoe designs made from scrap materials for refugees, to creating stronger materials by knitting plastic bags, and a devising a purification of water carrying system, the displays and time and effort put in by the girls impressed the judges. The judging process gave the girls a chance to explain their research fully - not only the scientific design of their products, but the economic and safety aspects that are all part of sustainability in industry.

The sixth form pupils who have been researching tick DNA and Lyme disease over the past year, set up an informative and interactive stand at the exhibition to showcase their work. The University of Exeter bioscience department is partnered with THS sixth form biologists, helping them with professional experimental techniques and providing the school’s science department with modern equipment to enhance their findings. This was a beneficial event for the school, pupils and the university to show how they had been coordinating the work and engaging the pupils in a real science STEM study. Visitors to their stand left better-educated about the dangers of tick borne diseases.

Throughout the exhibition hall, science and technology professionals were integrated into the rows of student projects, representing the work and research they do, aiming to engage visiting students and helping them to find out more about careers in science. By offering information on courses and apprenticeships in a fun and interactive way, the pupils could find out first-hand about many paths that can lead to STEM futures.

To round off the event, the ‘Space Oddities’, show created an exciting atmosphere in the university’s Great Hall, presented by the National Space Academy to all ages and schools. The show was led by lead researchers into experimental science in micro gravity environments, and included clips of Tim Peake’s recent work which involved groups of pupils doing these experiments on earth.
At the end of a great day for all those involved in the event, prizes were announced and the Thomas Hardye competitors excelled. Team ‘Mad Hatters’ (Isobel Campbell, Robyn Mackenzie, Christabel Gregory, Lilian Tan) were delighted to receive the ‘Best Communicator in Engineering Award’ for explaining how they used recycled materials to create a bag and notebook; the ‘Three Musketeers’ (Molly Dunne, Lucy Dutson, Sophie Trott) gained the ‘CREST Award for Creativity in a project, process or outcome’ for their portable filtration and container system. 

The Big Bang Fair SW provided an enjoyable opportunity for all the students to showcase their work to industry leaders whilst learning more about STEM careers.

Melanie Snedden,
Ogden Trust Physics Student Intern.

Big Bang



July 2016