Last December our tenant, Education Business Partnership Kent, staged an engaging education event at Discovery Park. The East Kent Skills/The Big Bang Event welcomed over 1,200 students to meet with 100 businesspeople, who were exhibiting in our atrium space.
The exhibitors were tasked with making their industries appeal to the young people, who came from schools across East Kent and were aged from 14-19. Students met chemists, biologists, aerospace engineers, police officers and army personnel, each giving them aspirations to study and follow a career path into STEM industries – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Smoking test tubes, smoothie bikes, a talking robot and a flight simulator were on offer to ignite the imaginations students, who also took part in practical workshops throughout the day.
Students joined in with chemistry experiments run by Peakdale Molecular, flew a helicopter simulator with BAE Systems, plus met aerospace engineers from Virtual Education Experience Ltd, a Sheffield-based firm that produces ergonomically-designed sports equipment using 3D printers.
Students were able to meet people from a range of industries, to ask them how they got into their jobs, what subjects they need to study and what their job involves.
The aim of EBPK’s event was to showcase careers and industries to young people they may not have known about or thought about previously. Home to hundreds of innovative science and technology businesses, Discovery Park was the perfect place to host this engaging event – some of the students may well be employees of the future in one of the many STEM industries based here.
EBP Kent Chief Executive Anne McNulty, said: “The event space itself is inspiring – the students will get to be in a walking/talking workplace; a corporate setting where all this science and technology comes from.
“We hope the young people left the event with a greater idea of what they might like to do in the future and how to progress to the right provider for the next stage of their learning and training.”
The event, part of East Kent Skills Fest, gave students the chance to meet with former students who are now working at Discovery Park. Tetrad Discovery was founded by a former pupil of Hartsdown Academy in Margate.
Dominique Westbrook joined Pfizer when she was 16, but when the Sandwich operation was scaled down, she co-founded the chemical research firm with her husband. At The Big Bang, she was able to speak with current pupils, telling them that they too could follow in her footsteps.
She said: “Science needs to be portrayed in schools as a viable career option.”
Scott Barclay, a Biochemical Engineer with Pfizer, was showing students the chemistry of Christmas snow. Helping him on his stand, were young trainees in their early twenties, hoping to inspire the youngsters and let them know that it’s an exciting career path.
He said: “It’s a hard push to get young people interested in a science career, with so many exciting media things competing with it. I’ve seen a few faces light up here today, so hopefully we have inspired some of them.
“We need to bring about a change in schools and make science more appealing. It is hard, but it’s worth it.”
Paul Barber, Managing Director of Discovery Park, said: “Hopefully the young people here today will be inspired to work here one day.”
Discovery Park works closely with schools and educational groups within East Kent. We were thrilled to welcome the enthusiastic students to engage with the professionals, new technologies, workshops and experiments at our park. Knowing how important it is to invest in future generations, we hope the event inspired young people to pursue higher education and careers in STEM industries.