ARM was represented by a talented team of recent graduates who put on a fantastic show for the estimated 70,000 attendees of the event which took place over four days. The first two days were reserved for schools to bring classes, while Saturday and Sunday were open for parents and adults to bring children along. In total there were over 120 interactive exhibits, demonstrations and practical activities for the children to get involved in! One of the main aims of the show was for the children to learn the right qualifications needed for different types of science and engineering roles, so having graduates that have recently joined ARM was useful and enabled them to pass on words of wisdom to aspiring new generation of engineers. Profiles of the graduates and more information about ARM attendance at the show can be found at www.arm.com/bigbang
CubeStormer II was on hand to show how ARM Powered® robots and a smartphone can solve the Rubik’s cube in the shortest time possible. We gave the children an opportunity to get their hands on a Rubik’s cube after successfully completing a series of programming challenges using Scratch, which runs on the ever popular ARM-based Raspberry Pi. Sphero balls were sliding, dropping and rolling around in our three dimensional maze - two children (and occasionally the teachers and parents) would race against each other to see who could complete the maze first, and win a giveaway. There were also 1000 ARM 'red bugs' that were handed out – with some attendees even decorating themselves with these popular sticky friends. Finally, we had a device wall which had a series of ARM products on display with the challenge of putting them in order of oldest to youngest, to show how technology has changed over the last twenty years. This then directed the children to an opportunity to win some prizes by designing the ARM-based device of the future. Prizes include some of the products that were being used on the booth during the show, including Raspberry Pis, Spheros and a LEGO MINDSTORMS kit – more details can be found on the ARM Big Bang website under the ‘Competition’ tab.
The Big Bang Fair provided a show floor full of interactive stand activities and live theatre shows which aimed to highlight the exciting future that an education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) can provide. However the show is not just about inspiring kids, but also helping teachers through the promotion of organizations like the National STEM Centre which provides lots of resources to support teachers in building children’s understanding of themes seen at the fair.,
Also running at the show was the National Science and Engineering Competition – the children were encouraged to go see the Finalists of the National Science + Engineering Competition and get an idea of what science or engineering projects are being investigated.
Being a Corporate Sponsor of The Big Bang is one of the many activities and initiatives ARM is involved in to inspire the next generation of engineers. Within the UK we take part in the Engineering Education Scheme (EES), a program in which ARM engineers mentor groups of school children through engineering projects. In Austin, Texas we sponsor FIRST Tech Challenge of central Texas. This initiative brings together teams of up to 10 students who are responsible for designing, building, and programming robots to compete in an alliance format against other teams. In doing so they also learn to apply real-world math and science concepts, compete in tournaments and potentially qualify for college scholarships.
In 2012 ARM entered into a partnership with Code Club and the Raspberry Pi Foundation to foster a long-term improvement in the abundance of ICT talent in the UK by inspiring and encouraging the development of skills in Computer Programming from an early age. Further details on these partnerships and our STEM education projects can be found in the ARM 2012 Corporate Responsibility report.
Next year’s Big Bang Fair event is at the NEC in Birmingham in March, make sure you book tickets as soon as they are available for you and your family, and do not forget to mention it to the teachers at local schools, as tickets will disappear fast.
Also keep an eye open for the regional events that will be taking place over the next few months including those at Exeter with The Big Bang Southwest on June 27th 2013, Coventry on June 25th 2013 and Duxford (near Cambridge) with The Big Bang Eastern on Jul 10th 2013 – registration is open for all of these events and you can find out more at here.
Finally if you are interested in getting involved in any of these activities, then please raise your hand. Inspiring the next generation of engineers is not going to happen unless we get out there and show kids it’s exciting, rewarding, but more importantly, a lot of fun!
Check out more pictures and videos from the show!
Andy Frame, CPU Product Manager, ARM, is based in Cambridge and is fanatical about the success of the Cortex-M3 and how it is rapidly becoming the de-facto standard for 32-bit MCU’s. Since joining ARM in 1995, Andy has had a variety of roles from Software Tools Technical Training though to Business Development, joining the CPU product management team about two years ago to look after Cortex-M3.
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