What could pack the 02 Arena three times, sell-out the Albert Hall ten times over and fill White Hart Lane with young people?

The Big Bang Fair: a record year

The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair exploded into life at The NEC, Birmingham, on 15 - 17 March, making its third year the biggest and best yet. With over three days of wall-to-wall science and engineering shows, activities and workshops, The Fair attracted 56,000 visitors, with young people, their teachers and parents totaling 49,000 – almost doubling last year’s impressive numbers.

Over 150 organisations came together to let young people see for themselves the vast range of exciting opportunities available through science and engineering careers, representing an unprecedented partnership between Government, education, industry and the wider science and engineering communities.

Friday’s National Science & Engineering Competition Awards Ceremony, hosted by Bang Goes the Theory’s Liz Bonin and Science Junkie Greg Foot, celebrated the achievements of 360 talented young finalists. The winners of the UK Young Engineers of the Year and UK Young Scientist of the Year were singled out by a panel of world-class judges, which included Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Sir Tim Hunt, and the Science Museum's Inventor in Residence Mark Champkins.

Wasim_Jessica_Kirtana_awardsWasim Miah and Jessica Jones, both 17, from St David’s College in Cardiff, were named UK Young Engineers of the Year. The pair impressed with the creation of a new portable device that combines electronics and mechanics to measure the intensity of foetal contractions. The gadget called the ‘Contraction Optical Monitoring System’ provides a clear and simple indication when mothers are about to go into labour.

Kirtana Vallabhaneni, also 17, from West Kirby Grammar School, was named the UK Young Scientist of the Year for her ground-breaking work helping to identify the harmful cells that cause pancreatic cancer.

David _Willetts_speakingThe Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, presented the deserving winners with their awards. He said: “Inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers is vital to our economy and society – that’s why initiatives, such as The Big Bang Fair and the National Science & Engineering Competition, are so important. The talented young people I’ve met today will not only have the skills and knowledge to work and live in an increasingly advanced world, but will make a real contribution to future growth.”

Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of The Big Bang CIC, said: “It’s hard to sum up the unique quality of The Big Bang Fair. If you compared The Fair to a football stadium, we’d be behind only Old Trafford and Arsenal for capacity. To fully appreciate the size of the event and the energy that makes up the programme’s flagship event, you really have to see it for yourself. The Fair is so much more than a fun day out. It presents science and engineering in a fresh new way and inspires young people to consider careers in these varied and vital sectors. The Fair challenges out-dated perceptions about science and engineering careers, giving young people a real picture of what twenty-first century science and engineering jobs are all about – and it works.

Boy-with-head-phones “Early evaluation indications confirm the findings of our previous events: young people who attend The Fair are more likely to choose a career that will require a qualification in science, technology, engineering or maths and view careers in science and engineering more positively as a result of their visit. Without a doubt, the thousands of young people who come through The Fair’s doors will be our future scientists and engineers. There’s no room for complacency of course, but there is certainly cause to be proud.”

Shows, including BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory, Sky One’s Brainiac Live!, BBC’s Gastronaut Live and Dame Ellen MacArthur’s Re-think the Future, added celebrity glitz to The Fair. Other famous attendees included Scrapheap Challenge’s Robert Llewelleyn, the Gadget Show’s Ortis Deley and Olympic athletes, Beth Tweddle, Graham Edmunds and Kelly Sotherton.

The 2013 Big Bang Fair will take place on 14 – 16 March at ExCel London. The Big Bang Near Me events take place nationwide all year round. For more information about The Big Bang programme go to 

Would you like to play a part in inspiring the UK’s future scientists and engineers? There are a number of ways to support The Big Bang. For further information, contact Gemma Samlal on

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You can see some highlights from The Fair on the video below.