Around 8,000 school pupils felt the full force of an inspirational learning experience delivered by experts at London’s prestigious Science Museum.
The React Foundation Annual Science and Engineering Shows were hosted in person for the first time in three years following the Covid-19 pandemic, and their return proved a huge success with students across West Cumbria as Science Museum staff brought their hugely exciting ‘Feel the Force’ and ‘It Takes Guts’ shows up north.
The shows run by the Foundation, the charitable organisation of Cumbrian business React Engineering, were toured around schools and colleges across West Cumbria to enable as many students as possible to participate in the free activities, which are primarily aimed at pupils in school years 5 to 9.
During the interactive shows, Senior Explainers from the Science Museum’s outreach team demonstrated how forces, such as gravity, magnetism and friction, worked.
Pete Woolaghan, the Chairman of React Foundation, said: “We have been inspiring schoolchildren to learn more about STEM subjects through the live science and engineering shows since 2007, but we haven’t been able to host them live since 2019 for Covid-19, although we did run some online shows for pupils.
“The Foundation was created to provide more opportunities for our local young people to engage in science and engineering, and running these shows in a fun, informative and exciting format always helps inspire people to want to learn more.
“By getting the young people to interact with the shows, what they are taught can remain with them throughout their lives and it’s important that we provide these events to show them that learning can be fun.”
The science shows ran for a total of two weeks, with primary and secondary schools in the area signing up to enjoy the free shows.
The team at the Science Museum spent the entire fortnight in Cumbria, and they were overjoyed with the participation from the pupils – and the teachers.
Chloe Wiles, a Senior Explainer at the museum, said: “There are lots of different ways to learn, and that’s not just always in a classroom. When I was young, I was a visual learner and participating in shows and demonstrations like these always helped my education.
“We are here to show that learning about science can be fun and really interesting, so what better way than visiting a different school and getting all noisy and shouty, and joining in with the activities?
“By getting them to join in, it inspires young people to learn more about STEM subjects and it’s very important to us to catch children at an early age so they want to continue their learning when they get older.”
The feedback from the participating schools was overwhelmingly positive, with teachers reporting that their children loved the interactive element of the shows – and they had already requested more demonstrations and experiments in the classroom.
Rebecca Crowther, a Year 6 teacher at Seascale Primary School, said: “It was a really fun show and our pupils were very engaged from the very beginning. They all participated in the activities which were presented in a very dynamic manner.
“The pupils have learned about forces as part of the curriculum and events like this really drum it home to them and show the forces in work in a really impactful way.”
The React Foundation Annual Live Science Shows are supported by a number of partners, including the University of Cumbria and RWE, which operates the nearby Robin Rigg Offshore Windfarm.
Mike Edwards, the general manager of Robin Rigg, said: “It was fantastic to see the React Foundation Live Science and Engineering Show bringing science to life for children across the area. The interactive show was well delivered, lively, educational and fun.
“RWE has always looked to help to bring STEM to a wider community and we have been involved with the React Foundation for more than a decade. We believe that it is really important to bring science to life for all children to enable them to understand the world around them and be able to imagine a future in STEM.
“The energy that the React team brings to enhancing science education for such a wide group of children is exemplary and we look forward to continuing our collaboration.”
The React Foundation was created by Cleator Moor-based React Engineering in 2004 to raise aspirations of young people and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. The foundation hosts various events and activities throughout the year, and also awards annual bursaries to secondary school pupils studying STEM subjects.