Round-up of Peterborough STEM Festival 2017

AndyBehind the scenes, News

Well, we aimed to take you on a STEM adventure and judging by the feedback we’ve had so far, I think we can safely say we did… and what an adventure into the world of STEM it turned out to be.

Someone told us back at the start of planning for this year, soon after we were bowled over by the numbers at the 2016 event, that the second year would be the hardest… well yes it certainly threw up some challenges, but nothing that wasn’t soon swatted aside like a wasp after your jam buttie.

So for our second year of the Festival, we decided to get a little bolder and go bigger by introducing the Schools Challenge Day (no idea whose idea that was? OK I do, it was me, much to the teams delight of having two days to organise). Once I had calmed them down and removed the cricket bats from their hands, they soon warmed to the idea cause we couldn’t let schools miss out on a STEM adventure right?

Long story short, after months of planning, the Schools Challenge Day was first to arrive. A usual quiet Friday in the Allia Future Business Centre soon descended, well no that’s the wrong word, it uplifted into the sound of 70 or so students and young people from seven different primary schools, laughing, smiling, problem solving, working together and generally having oodles of fun in four STEM mini adventures. We added in a challenge aspect for added encouragement, a little friendly competition thrown in for good measure….the winning school teams from both the morning and afternoon session each taking away a fantastic trophy, hand crafted in over very own innovation lab, to sit pride of place in their respective schools.

We had UCP covering the Science sector with a fantastic “who-done-it?” mystery for them to solve using fingerprint forensics.

The great team from BGL had the Technology side covered with unusual interactive gaming using fruit and lots of tin foil. We were amazed at the ingenuity of all the students faced with this challenge to get the highest score in the game and couldn’t help but laugh them sat their with tinfoil hats on, giggling and smiling away as they plugged a banana into the circuit and bopped their tin foil hatted friend on the head in order to make the game character jump.

Our wonderful main 2017 sponsor Anglia Water @One Alliance had the Engineering sector to cover and they proved very popular with their giant Lego challenge. A great challenge that encouraged the children to work closely together as a team in order to get to the end result…and they all did it exceptionally well with not one bit of bickering between them.

Then, they time travelled back to ancient Egypt for Thinking Outside the Box Escape Rooms Maths challenge. Solving a range of mathematical puzzles to unlock clues to the final combination needed to escape the Pharaohs tomb in time. Again all the teams proved themselves able to work well as a team.

And so the day ended with teachers, students, exhibitors and us over the moon at how it went. It was goodie bags all round and a huge congratulations to Dogsthorpe Academy and Barnack Primary for lifting the trophies. They all said they look forward to next years….oh eck! 🙂

The main Festival day

Sunday arrived….the big day, over 1100 free tickets snapped up over the few weeks beforehand so we were a little nervous to say the least.
This is where we see if all the planning worked. Early start for us (after a late night prior in order to completely fill the building with bunting and balloons for days), exhibitors in place – check, signage out – check, volunteers present and at their stations – check, all organisers present and correct and not hiding in the cupboard…………………………………………………………. check!…..(phew!)………9.30am….doors open…stand back and wait…all of about four seconds before the first excited visitors showed up, then more and more followed, some who knew what to expect, many that didn’t, so their STEM adventure had begun.

The whole building was alive with STEM, from Rocket Cars with the British Army, coding workshops, forensics and more to Cloud Making with Anglia Water @One Alliance, VR with Riselabs and lots more including once again open for business (since proving popular in 2016) the Slime Factory which had parents and children alike gooed up to their elbows.

I wondered around all day and behind every door, around every corner and sat at every table where something cool was going on, there with happy faces of children AND adults, interacting with the exhibits, working together and learning new things.

Our brilliant exhibitors engaged with the children on their level, nothing was too hard for them to do or beyond their reach so all had a go at the tasks set before them, and all tackled them with great zest and enthusiasm. It was so great to see and judging by the feedback we have received so far, many were thrilled to have come along.

By our count the total number through the door on the day, which we are more than chuffed to bits with, was over 750 people…so a huge thanks goes out to them.

So now of course the question has been asked already….”what about 2018?”…..well, watch this space. We are massively grateful and thankful to all our sponsors of the 2017 event and special thanks, big hugs, extra jammie doughnuts go to our main sponsor, Anglia Water @One Alliance. After days of badgering them, Jonathan smearing his face on their office window daily, they caved in, got a restraining order and jumped fully onboard the good ship HMS STEMmy McSTEMfestFace with us and road it into port all the way by not only supporting our efforts, but also putting on not one interactive exhibit, but four! (I would advise you avoid their scratch and sniff fat berg leaflet though, boy they smelt bad, I know because stupidly I had a good sniff more than once!).

Big thanks must also go to our other amazing sponsors the BGL Group, Novagraaf, GRAHAM Construction, and Rawlinsons. We also had some private donations from individuals who didn’t want any acknowledgement but who just wanted to offer their support.

So thank you once again to each and every one of you….and of course to our brilliant volunteer team who gave up part or all of their Sunday to remain on station with their food bags kindly donated by Aldi. You all did a grand job (don’t forget to put your names down for next year!).

Hopefully that gives you an brief insight as to what went on. Be sure to check out our oodles of photos in the photo gallery.

On behalf of the whole team, Tia, Jonathan, Liz and me Andy, thanks again, we’re glad you enjoyed the days and may the STEM adventure continue in 2018.