Schools science festival breaks all records

31 August 2016

Planning is under way for the sixth edition of one of the South’s biggest and most important events for young people – Crawley STEMfest 2017.

This year’s STEMfest, which ran during May and June, broke all previous records, involving 25 of the borough’s 32 schools – including all the town’s secondary schools and Central Sussex College.

Crawley STEMfest aims to encourage young people to study and follow careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). Dozens of events take place in schools, colleges and in the community, culminating in the Big Bang Fair South East, at the South of England Showground.

One of the highlights of STEMfest 2016, STEM in the Park, at the Memorial Gardens, showcased careers and apprenticeships in STEM. More than 1,200 young people and their parents attended and took part in 24 different activities provided by local employers and other organisations.

This year also saw the first STEM in the Stacks staged during the half-term break at Crawley Library, teaching young people how to code, or to build robots and complete a series of challenges.

Around 170 companies were involved in some way in STEMfest 2016 – by visiting schools and colleges, offering site visits to students, sponsoring or staging activities at the Big Bang Fair or STEM in the Park, or simply by volunteering time to guide at events or judge entries in the Big Bang Young Scientists and Engineers competition.

 “There are many highly-skilled jobs in and around Crawley, but large numbers of people commute from out of town,” said Councillor Peter Smith, Crawley Borough Council Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development.

“Crawley STEMfest is a fun and exciting way of making all the family aware of the training and careers available locally. It provides vital career information for young people and their parents and supports local employers in their efforts to attract the best talent.”

Crawley STEMfest 2017 is again being organised by STEM Sussex, the STEM outreach support department at the University of Brighton, in partnership with Crawley Borough Council and Central Sussex College. Since 2012 the main sponsor has been Crawley-based CGG, the world’s leading geophysical company.

Since the first Big Bang Fair South East in 2012, the event has grown from having the participation of around 2,000 students from fewer than 60 schools and colleges in the region to over 8,400 students and their teachers from more than 150 schools and colleges.

STEM Sussex Project Manager Jo McKinney-Green said: “Crawley STEMfest has become tremendously popular with schools and colleges since it was launched in 2012 and we have had very valuable support from local organisations.

“There are many more opportunities for businesses to support us by providing an activity that showcases their skills and expertise, by sponsoring an award or by sending staff to join our army of volunteers. Whatever they do, we believe they will find it a worthwhile experience. 

  • For further information about Crawley STEMfest and how organisations can support it, contact STEM Sussex, tel. 01273 641874 or email
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