STEMfest launches with a bang at Crawley school


Teachers took part in a battle of the sciences at the launch of this year’s Crawley STEMfest.

Students, teachers, academics and professionals met at the launch of the town’s third annual science festival at Oriel High School on Thursday (May 15).

Mick Watson, 27, who represented chemistry in the battle of the sciences competition at the event, said: “It was really nice way to launch the festival.

“The students enjoyed presenting their ideas to professionals and teachers.”

A Year 8 group presented the results of their investigation into the Golden Ratio, a famous number in mathematics often used to judge beauty in a person or object.

Megan Backhouse, 12, said they had compared the width and length of their classmates’ heads. The boys’ ratio was found to be closer to the Golden Ratio, which suggested their faces were more symmetrical and thus ‘more attractive’.

Science teachers from the school demonstrated the loudest and most interesting experiments in a bid to win over the crowd at the event.

The audience applause for each subject was measured using a decibel meter and physics and biology were declared tied winners.

Physics teacher Russel Arnott created a flaming standing wave and made a ‘very loud’ explosion by filling dry ice – solid carbon dioxide – in a bottle.

Lindsay Oliver gave practical biological demonstrations of respiration and optical illusions.

Mick Watson blew up a hydrogen balloon and made ‘elephant toothpaste’ with a foamy decomposition of hydrogen peroxide, an antiseptic.

And students played Strong by Kanye West on a ‘banana piano’.

Crawley MP Henry Smith said the annual series of events in the town’s schools and colleges inspired young people to take STEM courses.

He said: “It’s really good for our young people’s future and links brilliantly with some of the our companies we have in Crawley.”

Mark Collins represented CGG, a global geophysics company that employs some 500 people in Manor Royal and is one of the festival’s main sponsors.

Of STEMfest, he said: “It’s a long-term investment for us in the local community.”