Emma and Sophie, Last year MEng students in Civil Engineering talk about their first day at the Big Bang fair as volunteers for the Women in Engineering Society.
Today was our first day at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham – a celebration of engineering, science and technology for young people. With the Women in Engineering society, we introduced the concepts of energy in the form of a human smoothie maker!
9.00 am: We set everything up, we welcome Simon and give him a shirt, organize the fruit and juices
9.30 am: kids started coming and we slowly get into the routine of the stand.
10.30 am: bike #1 broke!!!! Giulia and Lindsey rushed up to get bike #2 and everything started ‘smoothly’ like before!
11.00 am: waves of kids started coming. They were all so enthusiastic to talk about energy and get a free and healthy smoothie!
12.00 noon: we had lunch. We got the first break shift, we were given 1 hour lunch where we also wonder around the fair to snoop around the other stands.
3.30 pm: the wave of kids started dying down as the schools started to leave.
4.00 pm: We started packing up, going to freshen up, dinner and bed that tomorrow will be another busy day.
We look forward to day two!
Some views of our volunteers of the second day of the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham.
Gemma Greenup, Widening Participation Officer in The Faculty of Engineering
h 8.30 We unloaded all the fruit fresh which had been collected from the shops on the way to the second day of the Big Bang. With our Women In Engineering T-shirts of black and gold on we were ready for the second day to engage children in engineering and get them peddling for a smoothie!
h 9:00 The festival opened its doors for day two and children came running through the doors. There was quickly a queue of thirsty children wanting smoothies!
h 10:00 Myself and Lindsey went to look at the other stands. Many of the engineering companies were really interest in the Women In Engineering society and seemed keen to get more women into their companies.
h 11:00 The bike wheel was continuous turning as child after child stepped up onto the seat. All the children were really interested in the science of transferring energy to make their delicious smoothie!
h 12:00 One child had a bit too much energy and cycled so fast the bike chain came off!! Women in engineering came to the rescue, with one of the team replacing the bike chain.
h 13:30 Lunch time with a delivery of sandwiches and a chance to have a noisy at the other activity stands.
h 14:00 Children were still coming in thick and fast with the pedal power to make the smoothie machine churn up the fruit!
h 15:00 Lindsey’s moment of fame as she was filmed talking about the Women in Engineering society, the aims of the society and why we were at the Big Bang festival.
h 16:00 The doors of the Big Bang festival closed. All out of berries and low on bananas, this marked the end of a fantastic day of science and smoothies!
Abby Adamson, final year of Chemical Engineering
After seeing all the pictures taken on the first day, I was very excited as well as looking forward to volunteering the next day! I didn’t realise having so many excited children in the fair would get me this exhausted, but it has been worth it. I was quite nervous about making smoothies for so many people, but I think I got the hang of it after making it for almost 4 hours. It was a highly energised environment, full of brilliant minds and I hope we have managed to get these kids interested in science and engineering. My highlight of the day “the kids either want to go to space or blow things up”!
Tanya Coupland, final year student in Mechanical Engineering
After two days of working at the Big Bang Fair it is safe to say I can’t remember the last time I was this tired but it has all been worth it! The enthusiasm of the children has been amazing; they have brilliant minds and great ideas and I’ve never seen so many faces light up at the prospect of eating fruit! It is great to think that as well as having a great day out our efforts may have inspired the next generation of scientists and engineers and that the children may have learned something from us. Despite the occasional technical problem I’ve had a ball for the last two days; and my mornings for the rest of the week just won’t be the same without an early morning run to Asda for a boot full of fruit, and I’ll probably be hearing “so, what do you know about energy?” in my sleep!
Viadehi, Second Year Bioengineering Student
”The Big Bang Fair is an event where kids of all ages come, often along with their families for a bit of educational fun. So obviously, where the kids go, we follow. In order to educate them about our preferred fields and highlight the importance of science and engineering in today’s economy. There are of course many ways of doing the same but we thought that we would be innovative and had an interesting pedal powered blender to make our point.
Since we were dealing with kids in this situation, the best manner of approach was to have an activity, which wouldn’t bore them to tears. So the idea was to let them make their own smoothies and in the process, get them thinking about the many different kinds of energy involved. We quizzed them a little and simplified our explanations so that it made sense to them”.
”There were also other freebies such as pens and even some bags and booklets, which I believe a many people enjoyed a lot. But ultimately, the goal was to get these kids involved and let them understand and learn more about science since it is such a budding field with so much potential.
There were certain glitches through the day with lots of customers coming and going in constant waves. Just when you think that you can catch a break, you’ve got the next wave waiting for their turn on the bike for a free smoothie. There were also the minor dilemmas we faced regarding the fruit and the portions and constantly having to wash the blenders.
However, we worked efficiently as a team and managed to work it out. Overall, I would say the day was a success with us meeting hordes of great kids who were polite and eager and very easy to please”.
Natalia Molinero, MSc Student in wireless communications
”Today was a really nice day at the Big Bang fair. I couldn’t image how big it was and how many people (especially families with children) were there until I arrived. I’ve also been surprised by the activities from the different organizations and companies like Land Rover, L’Oreal, NHS, and the BBC.
However, I think that the best part was our activity actually. I enjoyed a lot because we’ve been doing different things every time: I started giving booklets, pens and stickers to the kids and their parents, and explaining what the Society does, how we try to encourage children (paying attention to girls) to study engineering, and also talking about the University of Sheffield and all the possibilities that it offers to their students.”
”After that, I went to the bike, the activity itself, and I spent a very nice time talking to children, explaining them how energy is transformed and I still remember how they paid attention to me, and how they enjoyed making and drinking the smoothie. Then, I’ve been helping to prepare the fruits for the smoothies and it was just about the end of the day!!
I’m really excited, and I think and not even that tired, looking forward to go tomorrow again and talking to new people and enjoying the kids’ smiles. I strongly recommend this experience to everyone; you can give and learn a lot from it!”
Lindsey Dew, PhD Student in TIssue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine and Co-organizer of the activity
”So, it’s the last day of our 4 day science and engineering extravaganza that has been The Big Bang Fair. It’s a Sunday so we guess that the queues will not be as busy and there will be fewer people at the fair.
We were wrong! The smoothie-maker had another day of full on work to do as the crowds around our stand started to emerge and never got smaller. However, with the crowds came the opportunity to engage with more families and talk about what we love: SCIENCE and ENGINEERING. Everybody left with a smile on their face, free pen and smoothie in hand and a little more knowledge about energy transformation. The hustle and bustle never stopped apart from when loud BANGS from the other stands caused everybody to jump!”
”I can safely say that all of the volunteers on the stand today have been amazing and without them we could not have made it such a success. Whilst I and Giulia were eagerly trying to gain more information about industrial positions, careers within the BBC and NHS etc., the volunteers beavered away at the stand making sure the families were getting their smoothies and learning something new!”
”Then the trusty voice from the speakers announced ‘The hall will be closing in 10 minutes’ and that was it, the Big Bang Fair was coming to a close. So all hands were on deck to dismantle the stand and get it back in the van, ready for the trip back to Sheffield. We were soon back on the road and I could hear silence in the van….looking to my left I saw two sleeping volunteers, clearly worn out by the days show! With a fond farewell the volunteers left to get back to their studies and then that was it. Three months of planning and the show was over in what felt like the blink of an eye”.
”Overall a great experience with great volunteers, participants and organisers……now we just need to start thinking about next year!”.