Volcanoes, earthquakes and solar systems will be going off with a ‘Big Bang’ at Belfast Castle this week, as Belfast Hills Partnership together with the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland host their 2018 STEM-EXPO. This explosive event will provide a fantastic opportunity for young people to see STEM subjects brought to life in unexpected ways and have the chance to talk to scientists and engineers from universities, colleges and leading NI science organisations about their work.

The event, on 22nd and 23rd May, will offer a world of inspiration for young people, bring learning to life, as well as highlight the many exciting opportunities available for young scientists in Northern Ireland. School pupils, from the North Belfast area, in particular, will have the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities that include: discovering aquatic invertebrates as pollution indicators, finding out what meteorites can tell us about the origin of the Solar System. Exploring earth process, learning how to program LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robots using sensors and motor and also, understanding the importance of predators in our ecosystems.

Pupils will have a chance to take part in wide variety of activities with the aim of encouraging more young people to understand their local environment as well as thinking of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects as a possibility for future careers.

The project is part of the Our Bright Future programme, funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund. Funding has also been received from Belfast City Council’s City and Neighbourhood Department, Outreach North.

Jo Boylan, Youth and Outreach Officer for the Belfast Hills Partnership explains that  “The STEM-EXPO is a great opportunity to bring young people together from around the Belfast Hills area and help them to appreciate their environment, understand how it works, and inspire them to become the scientists and green ambassadors for the future”.

Kirstin Lemon with the GSNI explains that “the Belfast Hills is the perfect place to demonstrate many aspects of STEM subjects including geology, and the STEM-EXPO is a great way to give young people the chance to experience some of these for the first time. By providing these opportunities, it will encourage them to think more about STEM subjects and how they directly relate to the world around us, not only at the present, but increasingly in the future, with key issues such as climate change and geological hazards”.

The STEM-EXPO takes place on Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd May in Belfast Castle. Other partner delivering activities include the Belfast City Council, NMNI, University of Ulster, Institute of Physics, South East Regional College and Ecomantella.