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‘Super cool’ science shows aim to spark STEM imagination in Cumbria

Feeling a cloud, making instant ice cream and blowing up a balloon may not be part of your typical school day but thousands of pupils in Cumbria are being given the chance to do just that at a series of super science shows.

The Science Museum are bringing their brilliant science shows to Allerdale and Copeland schools with additional workshops for key stage 4 and pupils aged over 16.

The #ICanToo workshop will see youngsters learn how to launch a mini rocket and make water vanish while the post 16 workshop is the place for all budding civil engineers.

These new shows complement the Science Museum’s Super Cool Show which investigates the effects of liquid nitrogen and will see pupils and teachers plucked from the audience to have a go at some of the mind-blowing experiments themselves.

Around 8,000 students will join the National Science Museum Outreach team at Lakes College, primary, SEN and secondary schools from 24 September to 5 October.

The shows are the brainchild of the REACT Foundation who developed the outreach programme to promote science and engineering to schoolchildren in the Copeland and Allerdale with the aim of inspiring them to study science or engineering at a higher level.

Created in 2004, the REACT Foundation has delivered science shows to primary school children since 2007 and added shows for secondary schools from 2009.

56,000 children have taken part in the shows since 2007.

“We’re very excited to once again bring the National Science Museum experience to a wide age range of pupils across West Cumbria,” Pete Woolaghan, Chairman of the REACT Foundation, said. “The shows are designed to excite and inspire local youngsters to think about the part science and engineering plays in our everyday lives. Whilst the shows are energetic and fun, there is a very clear educational content at each show. We are grateful for the support given to us by our long-term supporter Robin Rigg (E.On) and our new sponsor the University of Cumbria. We are delighted to be working with both to deliver a truly memorable experience to our local students.”

Robin Rigg, the commercial wind farm, and the University of Cumbria are joint sponsors of this year’s shows. Both organisations understand the necessity to encourage youngsters to study science and engineering to address the national skills gap that is becoming a growing concern in the region.

“We are proud to support the foundation’s stimulating work to encourage youngsters on the west coast of Cumbria to get engaged and excited about science and engineering,” Professor Julie Mennell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cumbria, said. “The foundation’s values very much mirror our own – to engage and inspire future generations, for the benefits of individuals as well as our region. We have invested £3.5 million in our science laboratories and expanded our science portfolio to help respond to a regional and national shortage of graduates, and initiatives of this kind greatly help us to meet this need.”

In a further effort to encourage more pupils to take up science subjects the University of Cumbria has announced the science shows will be offered to secondary schools in a wider geographical area later this year. From November six secondary schools across Cumbria will be involved although it is hoped it will expanded to more if the science experiment proves successful.

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