Tuesday, 22 October 2013

CEH makes a Big Bang at Cumbria science fair

Staff and students from CEH's Lancaster site shared their enthusiasm for all living things at the South Cumbria Big Bang science fair earlier this month. Their stall, entitled "Slimy Science Creature Challenge", encouraged primary and secondary students to get their hands dirty and think about what it means to work in ecology:

Five staff and students from our Lancaster site introduced young students to the science of ecology at the South Cumbria Big Bang Fair, held in Furness College, Barrow-in-Furness from 15-16 October 2013.

The stall included a "Slimy science creature challenge", where 50 magnets depicting organisms from diatoms to wolves were hidden in a large bucket of green slime (created using Gelli Baff, which consists of the stuff used as an absorbant in disposable nappies). The (highly competitive!) student contestants had a limited time to extract as many creatures from the goo using only one hand, then only a minute to decide to which level of the food chain their organisms belonged - not as easy as it sounds! All contestants were rewarded for their efforts with a sweet treat, and the top scorer from each session went away with a mini microscope to help them hone their ecological skills at home.

Secondary students from around the south Cumbria region visited on Tuesday, whilst on Wednesday it was the turn of the primary school students. Much fun was had by all and, judging by the results, there are some very capable young people who are willing to get their hands dirty! It wasn't all goo and slime though, as the contents of a compost bin (and the associated flora and fauna) were available for students to examine using a microscope. Meanwhile, CEH staff were on hand with leaflets and magazines explaining the roles of ecologists and hydrologists, and how enjoyable environmental science can be as a career choice.

The Cumbria Big Bang Fair was organised by STEM Cumbria and was visited by more than 400 students each day from all over the region. It was host to a plethora of different businesses, educational institutions and enterprises that use STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) on a day to day basis.

Our Lancaster-based staff plan to take part again next year to help inspire the next generation of budding environmental scientists.

Beth Penrose, Jacky Chaplow, Claudia Moeckel, Elaine Potter and Andy Sier

Additional links

Cumbria STEM Ltd

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