The Big Bang is a series of regional and national fairs for young scientists, held every year across the UK
In July 2011 schools from around the east of England gathered at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford — a former wartime airfield — for the Big Bang Eastern Fair.
Featuring the National Science & Engineering Competition, the Fair aims to educate and excite young people about opportunities in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and inspire them to follow careers in these fields. The Fair also hosts the finals of the CREST awards, Britain's largest national award scheme for project work in STEM subjects, and the Young Engineer for Britain competition. Ambassadors from Johnson Matthey's Royston site attended the fair to help with the judging.
For the students who were displaying their projects, there was everything to play for. For the judges, there was much to admire. Over 100 science projects were exhibited by over 1,000 pupils for an opportunity to win top prizes and nominations to the national Big Bang event in March 2012.
Lee Dingwall of Johnson Matthey's Emission Control Technologies business at Royston was one of the Johnson Matthey ambassadors: "I judged projects including 'What makes a perfect bath bomb?' and 'How to make the perfect cup of tea'", he says. "The event was truly inspiring. The students were so enthusiastic and proud of their achievements that it made me remember the thrills of school science and discovering new concepts."
The ambassadors bring their knowledge of science to the judging, but the benefits flow both ways and the experience was invigorating. "I came away with a refreshed passion for science which I feel I have brought back to Johnson Matthey," adds Lee.
The Big Bang programme is organised by Engineering UK, an independent not-for-profit organisation, and events are developed together with the British Science Association and Young Engineers, another promotional body. Further support is provided by business, government and the science, technology, engineering and maths industry.