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National Wales Eisteddfod - Aug 2017

The National Eisteddfod is the foremost cultural event in Wales lasting 8 days and attracting an average of about 20,000 people daily to enjoy all aspects of the arts. It is also an opportunity to engage with the public and young people to promote Engineering and Science in the Science & Technology Pavilion. This increasingly popular venue within the festival typically attracts between 5 and 6,000 people a day, many of which are young people, parents and teachers.

As in the past, IMechE participation is through a Joint Engineering Institution umbrella of the Engineering & Science Group North Wales. This year we attended alongside our colleagues in the IET, ICE and the Nuclear Institute. We also invited EESW (Engineering Education Scheme Wales) to bring the ‘F1 for schools’ activity to the stand. This entailed us negotiating with the Eisteddfod organisers to permit the 20m track to be accommodated in the Gazebo area outside the main Pavilion. 

Volunteers from all the professional bodies helped us to man interactive activities and stands promoting STEM. This year we were extremely lucky in having a large number of young Welsh speaking volunteers from across the disciplines, travelling from Sellafield, Liverpool and Manchester as well as local companies in North Wales.

In addition to the F1 event other interactive activities included the ever popular ICE Bridge for schools, IET LED torch making and our own Mindstorm EV3 Rubic cube solver. The F1 event proved extremely popular with a constant stream of cars being manufactured and raced throughout 6 of the 8 days. Apart from 1 day when we experienced heavy rain, the ICE bridge construction also went well, sited in the open air outside the Pavilion.

We also agreed to run an Engineering Challenge on 2 days using Knex kits. This was a challenge previously used at local schools which involved building a motorised device to climb up a smooth bore pipe. On each day, we had 4 teams of youngsters competing. The winners and runners up received a reasonable cash prize. Bangor University ran a similar challenge on another 2 days on an electronics theme.

A Chemistry show was held by Bangor University twice a day in the gazebo. This was well attended by participants of all ages.   

Other participants in the Pavilion included:

·       Horizon (Developer for the new Nuclear build on Anglesey)

·       Magnox (Decommissioning of existing nuclear plant)

·       Bangor, Aberystwyth, Swansea Universities

·       Morlais (Current flow turbine developer)

·       Lego

·       Techniquest, Glyndwr

·       Griffiths Construction

The age group of children engaging in activities within the Science Pavilion is typically up to age 15 years. However, we received numerous enquiries from parents and older children regarding careers opportunities in engineering and other STEM subjects.

Visitors to the stand included Carwyn Jones (Wales First Minister) and Rhun ap Iorwerth (Anglesey Assembly member).

The Brynrefail school all girls team who have won their place in the F1 finals in Malaysia also visited and were presented with a cheque by Horizon to help with their costs. Our IMechE Regional Committee will also be making a financial contribution to this successful team.

The event organisers advise that over 25,000 people visited the Science Pavilion during the week. The following numbers may also be of interest:

·       ICE Bridge building (6days): 130

·       F1 car races (6 days): 420

·       IET torches: 600

·       Engineering Challenge (4 teams, 4 days): 38

As in previous years the event proved to be a success. Our volunteers enjoyed the experience and would like to repeat their participation in future years. Approaches already received from teachers in the Region asking if we can arrange visits to promote STEM at their schools.

Gareth Cemlyn Jones

Chairman Merseyside & North Wales Region

24th August 2017

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