The impact of the NRN AEM at the National Eisteddfod
Swansea and Cardiff University NRN AEM demonstrators take in the Maes at the National Eisteddfod 2017
The National Eisteddfod is the national festival of Wales and provides an opportunity to celebrate Wales’ language and culture. Over the past decade the Science and Technology Pavilion at the event has grown from strength to strength with the opportunity for scientists and exhibitors to exploit the research Wales has to offer to a broad audience.
This August a team of NRN AEM academics and PhD students from across the three institutes namely Swansea, Cardiff and Bangor University took both their enthusiasm and research to the National Eisteddfod in Anglesey. Seven demonstrations took place over eight days from prosthetics to lasers and with the science proving popular the NRN AEM demonstrations got hundreds of young adults involved with their science during the course of the event.
As one of the main sponsors of the Science and Technology Pavilion it was a key opportunity for the NRN AEM to highlight the diverse range of science researched from within the network testing both academics and students to present their science to suit a wide ranging audience.
“Discussing our area of study and demonstrating some of our new technological advancements at the National Eisteddfod provided us with an opportunity to showcase our topical work to a wide-ranging audience. We were also able to illustrate how our academic work can be applied to solve real-world problems by using practical and computational experiments. This provided us with a platform to inspire the next generation of STEM students through the medium of both Welsh and English."
– PhD Student, Sion Eilir Pryse - NRN102
The demonstrations centred on the four themes of the NRN AEM namely, Knowledge Transfer, Modelling, Materials as well as Sensors and Devices. Professor Alan Shore of Bangor University whose NRN project looks in to the modelling and design of semiconductor lasers and was Chair to the Science and Technology Committee reflected on the way in which the array of demonstrations made an impact to this year’s pavilion. From Swansea University’s NRN projects ‘Molecular Gastronomy’ proving a popular exhibit allowing visitors to experience the unusual properties of non-Newtonian fluids in conjunction through to our Bangor University project demonstrating the usefulness of laser cutting.
“The visitors to the various NRN exhibits came away with a very positive impression of the scope and impact of advanced engineering. For example there were opportunities of how the design and low-cost manufacture of a prosthetic foot were revealed by a hands-on experiment involving measuring the forces which are at play in walking being in complete contrast of a Cardiff exhibit allowing visitors to use thermal imaging cameras to understand how everyday items can powered by solar energy.” – Professor Alan Shore, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee for the National Eisteddfod 2017
Inspiring the Next Generation
Visitors give feedback to Molecular Gastronomy NRN AEM demonstration
The NRN AEM is committed to inspire the next generation of science enthusiasts. We want to break down the stereotypes to ensure that engineering science is approachable to all. During the seven days that the NRN AEM demonstrated at the Eisteddfod a great impact was seen from both young and old to understand the research of advanced engineering and materials.
“It is important that we do more to promote STEMM subjects at an early age. As a woman working in an engineering discipline, the National Eisteddfod provided me with an opportunity to engage with young female science enthusiasts in order to show them the potential career pathways that lie within the STEM subjects. It’s vital to show young girls that these subjects are accessible to them as well as their male peers.” – Dr Catrin Williams, Ser Cymru Fellow / NRN062
A network such as the NRN AEM has the ability to promote the accessibility of science to all ages, genders and backgrounds and those who demonstrated at this year’s Eisteddfod proved that with their unique and exciting experiments.
“The NRN AEM was a key contributor to events in the Science and Technology Pavilion of the National Eisteddfod of Wales. In this year’s Eisteddfod the Science and Technology pavilion attracted over 25,000 visitors – the highest number for several years – thereby making it one of the largest European public science events. A high proportion of the visitors were young people who relished the many opportunities to gain hands on experience of science and technology. During the Eisteddfod week several NRN AEM projects offered such hands-on science activities.” – Professor Alan Shore, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee for the National Eisteddfod 2017.