Potteries Science Festival Ignites Passion for STEM Education

The Potteries Science Festival 2024 witnessed another dynamic and highly successful week this year bringing together academia, industry professionals, and budding young minds in a celebration of science, innovation, and discovery.

The festival, held on the 4th – 8th of March showcased a variety of enriching events aimed at growing interest and understanding of science among primary and secondary school pupils. From engaging workshops hosted by esteemed universities and professional bodies to insightful talks delivered by employers, alumni, and university representatives, the festival offered a diverse range of activities tailored to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and healthcare professionals.

The week began with a captivating two-hour session by Keele Medical School, where six academics shared their expertise on medical and research pathways. The event gathered significant interest, drawing in college students enrolled in the prestigious MDV (Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary) programme.

Throughout the week, attendees were treated to an array of thought-provoking discussions and presentations. Coventry University delved into the realm of healthcare professions, shedding light on exciting career opportunities within the field. Career advisor Claire Thorne enlightened participants on the prospects of STEM apprenticeships, while Leighton Hospital provided valuable insights into careers in radiography, offering a glimpse into the vital role of medical imaging in modern healthcare.

One of the many highlights of the festival was a captivating workshop delivered by Huddersfield University, titled ‘How do engineers help surgeons save lives?’ The session explored the intricate relationship between engineering and medicine, particularly focusing on the design and development of prosthetics—a testament to the innovative collaboration between different disciplines in advancing healthcare.

The collaboration between researchers from RAL Space and the University of Oxford added a significant dimension to the week. These experts delivered three bespoke quantum physics workshops tailored for A Level Physics students at the Sixth Form College. Inspired by discussions on the practical applications of quantum sensors for monitoring climate change from orbit, these students engaged in hands-on investigations using the same equipment utilised in a cold atom quantum sensor—the interferometer. The workshop facilitators were thoroughly impressed by the enthusiasm and insightful questioning demonstrated by the students throughout each task, highlighting their dedication to understanding complex scientific concepts.

Not forgetting the importance of instilling a love for science at a young age, primary school children were invited to join the festivities, participating in an engaging morning that took science beyond the confines of the classroom. Led by enthusiastic educators, the children embarked on a nature walk and indulged in the excitement of pond dipping, cultivating a deeper appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.

Reflecting on the resounding success of the Potteries Science Festival, organisers expressed their gratitude to all participants and collaborators who contributed to making the event a memorable and impactful experience. The lasting impact of the inspiration and curiosity sparked throughout the week-long celebration will unquestionably influence the future of STEM education and innovation in the Potteries region and beyond.