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VR rollercoaster and selfie robot among fascinating exhibits at MDX STEM fest

Around 500 pupils and students attended the annual event during British Science Week

Councillor Nagus Narenthira, the Mayor of Barnet,

Hundreds of schoolchildren from Barnet borough and across London enjoyed hands-on virtual reality and scientific activities with robots and cutting-edge technology as part of the annual STEM Festival at Middlesex University this week.

The event takes place every March during British Science Week and showcases ground-breaking work and research in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Around 500 pupils from primary and secondary schools attended the festival and had the chance to explore various interactive displays. One popular stand proved to be the ‘motion driven experience’, created by Design Engineering students and staff, in which visitors ride a unique virtual reality rollercoaster using an Oculus Rift headset.

Other attractions included examining the engineering principles behind medical implants for joint replacements, a chance to discover microscopic ‘water beasts’ and a Sports Science device that can measure the power of jumps as people leap between two sensors.

Stem Festival Middlesex University

Visitors could build their own universe through an interactive celestial creation activity in the Mathematics area. In the Psychology section, they could use an electroencephalographic headset to see how good they are at controlling their own thoughts.

More than 250 people watched a fascinating presentation by Ruth Amos, an award-winning inventor, who co-founded a YouTube channel ‘Kids Invent Stuff’ and designed the invention Stairsteady, a hand rail that helps people with mobility issues use stairs safely. She spoke about the power of inventions as opportunities to inspire the next generation.

Ruth (pictured below) said: “This STEM Festival is an amazing event because it is so hands on and practical. The practical element is so important. This festival is something that the students will remember and could even influence their decisions about future careers. There really was something for everyone.”

Ruth Amos

Councillor Nagus Narenthira, the Mayor of Barnet, interacted with a commercial robot known as Bertie from the Design Engineering section that can be programmed to carry out different tasks which even include taking a selfie.

The Major of Barnet said: “I have a vested interest in the STEM Festival having been a science teacher for 27 years. These hands-on science experiences can be very difficult to provide so it is a credit to Middlesex University for staging this event and a great outreach for the community, particularly with young people. In future I would hope many of the students could be inspired to look at science and technology careers and education.”

Stem Festival Middlesex University

Professor Mehmet Karamanoglu, Head of the Design Engineering and Mathematics Department, said: “As a faculty, we have been creating opportunities for our students to take part in public engagement activities as this is critical to their personal development in terms of building confidence and the ability to communicate their discipline to others, across all ages, in a confident manner. It also helps to drive their motivation and engagement with their chosen subject.

“The benefit for the local schools and colleges is not only to visit our university but also learn about the vast range of subjects we have on offer in an interactive and fun way demonstrated by our staff and current students. All the activities on offer are carefully named to engage young people and generate curiosity, however, each one of these has a named academic programme and a clear career path. The positive response we get from children is down to this type of interaction that is key to engage and subsequently inform the choice of study and career path which naturally evolves through the conversation during the activity.”

Find out more about the STEM Festival at Middlesex University.

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