5-minute briefing: The Big Bang Competition

Jun 12, 2018

Life changing opportunities

Laura Mwangi

Laura Mwangi, Competitions Manager, tells us how The Big Bang Competition offers potentially life changing opportunities to the UK's future scientists and engineers.  

What role does The Big Bang Competition play in inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals?

The Big Bang Competition provides students with an opportunity to gain recognition and reward for STEM work that they have completed.

What do you think young people get out of entering The Competition?

Competitors have the opportunity to present their work to our judges, who are all STEM professionals. All entrants are given feedback on their work & suggestions for next steps so they can continue on in their STEM journey.

Those that go on to the finals have the opportunity to meet like-minded students, they will get to past competitors and judges, network with business and industry and enjoy all that the Big Bang Fair has to offer.

Finalists compete for a range of prizes, including cash prizes, experience days and the chance to compete in international competitions. The overall winners are crowned the UK Young Engineer(s) or GSK UK Young Scientist(s) of the Year.

How many students/projects are involved in The Big Bang Competition each year?

In 2017/18 circa 1100 projects (approx. 2750 students) entered the Competition via our regional & online heats.

The Big Bang Competition has changed a bit since you’ve been running it, what do you think are the best changes?

One of the most important changes we’ve made is to provide students in all age categories with the opportunity to take home the title of UK Young Engineer(s) or GSK UK Young Scientist(s) of the Year. Previously only senior students were eligible – we think this system is fairer.

This year we introduced the ‘Competitors’ Choice Award’ which gave entrants to opportunity to put themselves in the judges’ shoes, which was great.

Recently, we established an affiliation with the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), which means that selected winners of The Competition can go to the US to compete against the best young scientists & engineers in the World.

The two students we sent this year had an amazing experience and both won prizes, which was fantastic!

What do you like best about working on The Big Bang Competition?

I love being part of a programme that gives young people the opportunity to be rewarded for their hard work, & provides them with opportunities, that are potentially life changing, that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

What are some of your favourite projects?

Some of my favourite projects are the ones that start as a simple idea but could make a real difference to people’s lives. A couple that spring to mind include: ‘Cerebral Palsy Mobility Device’ (a chair designed to give people with cerebral palsy more independence) and ‘Can making banana tree paper reduce deforestation?’ and ‘Vitamins & Minerals from Recycled Foods’ (a research and design project which looked at whether vitamin and mineral supplements could be developed out of recycled foods).

What would you say to anyone thinking about entering a project?

Go for it! You have nothing to lose & so much to gain.

What’s on the horizon for The Big Bang Competition?

This year we’ve changed the online application process to give students the option to upload a video entry for their project, instead of a written application. We’ve also introduced an ‘early bird deadline’ to allow students to enter their project before July 29th & find out sooner if they’ve made to the finals.

Next year, we plan to have some exciting CPD opportunities available to teachers attending the fair.

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