Science fun and games in Crawley park

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Serious science mixed with family fun at the annual STEM in the Park in Crawley’s Memorial Gardens on Saturday (May 12).

The free event was part of the seventh Crawley STEMfest and showcased careers and apprenticeships in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) through a range of fun and hands-on activities aimed at young people and their parents.

Workshops, demonstrations and interactive displays were staged by scientists and engineers from local companies, universities and colleges and other organisations, making the hundreds of young people and their families who attended aware of the training and career opportunities available locally.

Gatwick Airport asked visitors to the park to race against the clock to change a light on the airport’s runway, while the East Sussex Reptile and Amphibian Society (ESRAS) let young people gain confidence by handling boa constrictors and tortoises.

Visitors made a cloud in a jar with Chichester University, extracted DNA from bananas with the University of Sussex and learned how Siemens use virtual reality to train engineers.

They also made a comet with Creative Spaces and were asked by OVESCO to use their legs to generate electricity.

Crawley STEMfest 2018 is organised by STEM Sussex, the STEM outreach department of the University of Brighton, in partnership with Crawley Borough Council and Central Sussex College.

Headline sponsors of Crawley STEMfest and the Big Bang Fair South East are Gatwick Airport.

Gatwick’s Head of Community Engagement, Alison Addy, said: “This is the second year Gatwick has been a sponsor of STEM in the Park and we were delighted to see another well attended event, providing inspiration for local young people to consider a future STEM career or apprenticeship. Gatwick’s sponsorship forms part of its wider Community Engagement education strategy, ‘Inform, Inspire, Invest’, which includes partnerships with the Big Bang South East Fair and Learn Live broadcasts.”

An outreach officer from Chichester University described the event as “vital” in spreading the word about the university’s new tech park, which opens in September, while a teacher and parent who attended said it was “a great way to inspire children and parents to think about STEM careers.”

Crawley STEMfest takes place in schools and colleges and in the community throughout May and June. It culminates with the Big Bang Fair South East, at the South of England Showground, on 27th and 28th June, when some 11,000 students from across the region are expected to attend.