The Great Exhibition² is a project from Imperial College London and Big Ideas, which aims to widen participation in STEM for key stage 2 and key stage 3 pupils in the boroughs adjacent to Imperial College – Westminster, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham.
The Great Exhibition² allows for creative and innovative interaction with STEM subjects, gives students the chance to connect with ‘real-life’ scientists and engineers, and creates a scientific project roadmap for participants to upskill and gain experience of ‘working scientifically’.
“I enjoyed the designing process as well as the prototyping process,as well as seeing the project evolve every day, and thinking about how much paper could be recycled with our invention.”
Great Exhibition² participant
The Great Exhibition² is also a celebration of the rich scientific and creative history of Exhibition Road, with engagement activity taking place in the run up to the Great Exhibition Road Festival in June. This context of the public space and public engagement past and present positions STEM in an accessible context. Inventions and prototypes created by participants are displayed during the Great Exhibition Road Festival and young people, particularly those who are not regular visitors to Exhibition Road, are encouraged to attend the Festival and see their work celebrated.
The feedback and output of the 195 participants, 8 teachers and the 5 Imperial College mentors involved in 2021 clearly demonstrates how the programme concept resonated well with them and provided a great platform for STEM innovation among young people.
“One of the students wrote in his yearbook that he wanted to create an unmeltable ice cap and this project has given him the opportunity to explore his ideas and help him think about a career path in future”
Teacher Donnington Primary School
A particular strength of the programme is the mentor sessions. Young people connected to STEM role models and received external encouragement and feedback on their ideas. It worked both as an incentive for participation and added to the prestige of the programme.
“The expert(mentor) gave me a lot of ideas in how to improve my design and my aim is to now go to university so I can contribute to saving our planet.”
Student, Donnington Primary School