ScienceX success for the third year running

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 09:25:00 BST

On the weekend of the 14 & 15 April, ScienceX returned to intu Trafford Centre. We sent along Megan Ritchie, a first year Politics and International Relations student, to see find out what all the excitement was about.

It’s been three years since the first event was held and judging by the queues and the sea of visitors that surrounded each stand, everyone thought that ScienceX 2018 was as exciting and as interesting as ever. With a flight simulator, a racing car, the chance to immerse yourself into virtual reality, watch dancing robots in The Orient, experiment with soil, slime, composite materials and much more, there was something for everyone to get involved with at ScienceX.

Science in the classroom at school never really appealed to me and given that it was never my favourite subject, I was rather unsure of what to expect from my time at Science X. Even now as a Politics and International Relations student I’m far removed from the world of science and engineering. None of that mattered though; ScienceX offered an enjoyable opportunity for all to learn something new with the help of the amazing (and extremely clever) volunteers who were on hand to share their knowledge. It’s a great way for adults to learn something new and for children to see that science is all around us and it goes far beyond learning from a textbook.

Many of the visitors – especially those that were parents – commented on how they had travelled to intu Trafford Centre especially for the event as they thought that their children would benefit from the visit. One visitor I spoke to had brought her family to ScienceX in the hope that it would show her children what’s on offer in the future when they are deciding on their career and educational pathways. She said: “It’s something good for the kids to do, especially if it’s free. It gets them more involved with science and that’ll only be good for them as they’re growing up and deciding what subjects to take. Things like this could encourage my son to do more. He loves anything computerised so I thought he’d love the flight simulator and the virtual reality."

After speaking to many of the ScienceX volunteers, all of them had spoken of the way they aimed to include all visitors in the activities, making them fun yet easy and safe to participate in. One of the outreach officers teaching the visitors about composite materials told me about her managers idea for the stand: "The idea to work with some of the PhD students and the composite idea to create hands-on activities scaled right down so really young kids can do it and it’s safe and we can get everybody involved as much as possible”.

Likewise, a student volunteer that was responsible for teaching the visitors about nuclear energy told me about the games they had on offer that aimed to explain the function of nuclear fuel. He said: “These are very simple games but it’s a good way to transform a very complex matter into a simple one”. This approach to all of the activities meant everyone was able to get involved in some way and it was great to see so many people – younger and older – taking part.

It felt easy to learn and take part because of how great the volunteers were and how keen they were to include everyone in their experiments and demonstrations. It was clear that they are all extremely passionate about their area of interest and they enjoyed sharing their knowledge with others, especially our potential scientists and engineers of the future. For Eric Wright, who graduated from the University of Manchester in 1965, ScienceX is the chance for him to share what the staff at the University taught him. He was keen to tell me about his experience and why he became a STEM Ambassador. He told me: “I realised I’d had a good career around the world as a result of all the hard work that people at Manchester put into me so when I came back to England I wanted to pay back. I learned about STEM Ambassadors in London when I worked there and they put me in touch with the University. It gives me an opportunity to come back and pay back my gift from Manchester.”

At ScienceX, regardless of your existing scientific knowledge, you couldn’t help but want to learn more thanks to the exciting and enjoyable displays and experiments and the great volunteers that were helping out.

Hopefully if you haven’t seen it for yourself yet you’ll be able to head to intu Trafford Centre next year to join the fun as it has already been confirmed that ScienceX will be going ahead in 2019. If you are interested, you can complete the registration of interest form or like the Faculty’s Facebook page.