RCUK supports prize winners at the National Science + Engineering Competition at the Big Bang Fair. We enable young people to embark on special trips to some of the most prestigious scientific facilities in the world. During these exclusive scientific trips, the young people have the opportunity to meet with scientists and take part in exciting experiments. Locations include; the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma, which has some of the premier astronomical facilities in the Northern Hemisphere; Diamond Light Source, which, by accelerating electrons to near light-speed, generates brilliant beams of light which are used for research and development across a range of scientific disciplines and Rothamsted Research, which delivers knowledge and new practices to increase crop productivity and quality and develops environmentally sustainable solutions for food production and bioenergy.
Last years’ Young Scientist of the Year winner Kirtana Vallabhaneni, told us “Being able to discuss the findings and telescopes with astronomers who were highly passionate about their work was an inspiring experience”
UK Young Scientist of the Year 2011, Tom Hearing, had this to say about his visit to La Palma: “The trip was amazing and the observatory unlike anything else I have seen. The telescopes were very impressive and all the scientists and assistants were really helpful. I want to thank RCUK as this is one of the most impressive experiences I have ever had!”
The impact of these trips is long lasting and expands the students into thinking about career paths they had never thought about before.
In 2009, Graeme Sneddon won the Research Councils UK Lab Experience Prize and visited Rothamsted Research, which is the longest running agricultural research station in the world. Following his visit he went on to study at Cambridge University where he received a Gatsby fellowship for undergraduate students to develop a research project with Rothamsted’s plant scientists. He now plans to spend 3 months working with Rothamsted as part of his BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership.
Alice Lightowlers won the same prize in 2011 and also visited Rothamsted. She enjoyed it so much that, two years later, she will be spending her summer placement going back again.
Competition for prizes is always tough. Brian Cox, a previous judge at the fair said: “The standard of entries was outstanding and the judging process proved much harder than expected. The judges were left truly overwhelmed by all the finalist’s projects and it’s wonderful to witness such enthusiasm and dedication from young people. It’s left me hugely excited about the future of science in the UK.”
At RCUK, we are thrilled to be involved in the Competition and that giving young people these trips of a lifetime has provided them with the opportunity to step out of the classroom and discover the amazing contribution of science and engineering to the future and the important part they could play in it. This year, we are again looking forward to recognising and rewarding the amazing achievements of these exceptional young people and wish everyone the best of luck!