SMASHfestUK’s award-winning family festival returns to Deptford in London this week (13-17 February) with Middlesex University students and staff taking centre stage at the main attraction – a cryovolcano eruption.
The festival, which aims to widen participation in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) through the arts and design, will include interactive installations, music, film and participatory art themes around super volcanoes.
As lead academic partner of SMASHfestUK, Middlesex University staff and students from product design, design engineering, maths, computer science and illustration courses will be leading and participating in activities throughout the week.
Top among those activities will be the building of a five metre high cryovolcano on 16 February. Using liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees to set off the explosion, the cryovolcano will erupt to shoot 1500 ping pong balls high above the Albany Theatre in what will be an official world record attempt.
Wyn Griffiths, Course Leader for BA/BSc Product Design and Co-Founder/Director of SMASHfestUK, is confident that the festival will encourage young people from all backgrounds to participate in all things STEM.
“At Middlesex University, we pride ourselves on the diversity of our student body and our innovative approach to public engagement and recruitment," he says.
“However, this is an on-going battle, as overall diversity in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects is poor. Widening participation and working to alleviate imbalance in gender, ethnic and socio-economic diversity is an ethical requirement and urgent mission for higher education.
“Universities shouldn't be 'ivory towers', but open, collaborative hubs; active in the heart of their local communities, helping to build science, cultural and social capital. That is why we are so excited to be the founding and lead academic partner of SMASHfestUK.”
SMASHfestUK, which is now in its third year following an immensely successful debut in 2015, has so far engaged with 3,500 schoolchildren across two London boroughs.
It is hoped that new collaborations with organisations such as the Open Book Project at Goldsmiths will open up access to new audiences of young people in the future.
Learn more about studying science and technology at Middlesex University