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University of Stirling opens its doors to young scientists

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Families enjoyed a fun-filled day out at the University of Stirling’s Science Fair where children had the chance to try their hands at a host of exciting and educational experiments.

An image of Robbie Buchanan at the science fair

Robbie Buchanan enjoyed his day at the University's Science Fair.

Hundreds of people descended on the campus Atrium to participate in a diverse range of activities – including chemistry, forensics and conservation – hosted by the University and Forth Valley College.

The Science Fair launched three years ago with the aim to encourage more girls to participate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). While that remains the premise of the event, it today promotes science to young people of both genders.

Sam Lee, Kate Griffin, Euan Griffin and Ossian Wilson at the science fair

Sam Lee, Kate Griffin, Euan Griffin and Ossian Wilson participated in the experiments.

Dr Zarah Pattison, a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Biological and Environmental Sciences, organised this year’s fair alongside Professor Rachel Norman, Chair in Food Security and Sustainability.

Wendy Norman at the science fair

Wendy Norman also had a great day at the University event.

Dr Pattison said: “The idea of a Science Fair was originally borne from ScienceGrrl, an organisation celebrating and supporting women in science. We want to change the stereotypical image of a scientist and show the younger generation that there are female scientists out there doing amazing things. This remains the focus of the event, however, we encourage all genders to participate in science and enjoy it.

“This is our fourth fair in three years, and it gets busier with each event. It is great to see so many enthusiastic young people enjoying the activities and interacting with staff, and we hope that it will inspire and encourage them to consider pursuing a career in science.”

Saturday’s event offered children the opportunity to sample a range of activities.

Staff from Biological and Environmental Sciences ran chemistry experiments, sessions on animal behaviour and a focus on conservation, with attractions including ‘seed bombs’, a ‘bug hotel’ and ‘building a bat’. Children were also able to learn about renewable energy by building wind turbines.

A demonstration of 3D printing and scanning was hosted by Information Services staff; Aquaculture held a ‘What is it?’ quiz using scanning electron microscope images; Computing Sciences and Maths taught sustainable agriculture using Lego; and Sports Sciences explained heart monitoring, muscles and neurons.

Innovative

Staff from Forth Valley College held sessions on ‘life at microscopic level’, forensics; and ‘understanding your DNA’.

Fiona Jackson, Curriculum Manager in Forth Valley College’s Department of Applied Science, Maths and Mechanical Engineering, said: “We were delighted to be involved in this innovative Science Fair and to be working closely with the University of Stirling. Our college’s mission statement is ‘Making Learning Work’ and it is through events such as these that we see just how this is put into practice.

“We are confident – that through our ‘life at microscopic level’, forensics; and ‘understanding your DNA’ sessions - we can inspire many of the budding young scientists who attended, especially the girls, to come back and find out more about the courses and careers on offer within the world of science.”

All of those who organise and run the Science Fair are volunteers.

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