Planning for and surviving a flood - including an escape route that involves a virtual journey into outer space - are just some of the activities children and families have experienced as part of SMASHfestUK, a free festival themed around STEAM (science, technology, engineering, maths and the arts).
Now in its fourth year, SMASHfestUK returned to its roots in Deptford, London, over the half term holiday. Researchers from Middlesex University’s Flood Hazard Research Centre, global academics and performers engaged with young people and their families to plan for a scenario where Deptford becomes submerged in flood waters.
SMASHfestUK is the brainchild of academics from Middlesex University London, The Refinery (a Science Communication company) and the University of Greenwich. It aims to help young people and families from diverse backgrounds learn about STEAM subjects through practical exercises and real-life examples.
“SMASHfestUK is a festival that we bring to young people and families who perhaps wouldn’t think that science, technology, engineering or maths or the arts are for them," Wyn Griffiths, SMASHfestUK co-founder
Co-founder Wyn Griffiths, Product Design/Product Design Engineering Programme Leader at Middlesex University London is proud of the impact SMASHfestUK has had since it began.
“SMASHfestUK is a festival that we bring to young people and families who perhaps wouldn’t think that science, technology, engineering or maths or the arts are for them,” he says.
“We want to widen participation and build diversity in these subjects by demonstrating their relevance to everyday life. We create a compelling narrative that interweaves all these disciplines in a meaningful way.
“Deptford is no stranger to flooding, and so it is fitting that in its fourth year SMASHfestUK draws on the reality of the local environment to show young people how to plan for, and solve, problems that are relevant to them.”
Flood Hazard Research Centre
Middlesex University’s Flood Hazard Research Centre, one of the oldest centres of its kind, has carried out research for the OECD, Thames Water, and the European Commission. The team brought 15 of its international students to SMASHfestUK to share their knowledge with visitors.