Young people across Greater Brighton can learn about exciting careers in science, technology, engineering and maths in an online festival featuring “edible geology” and a rapping scientist.

Pupils and students of all ages can take part in the first virtual Crawley STEMfest, either taking part from school with their teachers or at home with family during lockdown.

The festival went live last week and is available online until November 26, offering a diverse and educational programme of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities suitable for all ages. 

Access is available at www.thestemhub.org.uk until Thursday 26 November 2020.

This year’s programme includes enjoyable and educational workshops such as ‘Edible Geology’ provided by geophysics firm CGG, the festival’s headline sponsor. Young people can go on a journey to Mars with engineering firm Atkins, discover sound engineering with the Institute of Acoustics, and work out the maths of carpentry with Crawley College.

There are also two pre-recorded shows from entertaining science presenter Jon Chase: “The Splendiferous Science of Roald Dahl” and “The Science Rapper’s Guide to the Solar System”.

Students can participate in a virtual careers journey, an interactive exhibition where they can discover the vast variety of jobs in the STEM sector and develop future career paths, from acousticians to electrical and software engineers.

Cllr Peter Smith, Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development at Crawley Borough Council, which is part of the Greater Brighton City Region, said: “While our young people may not be able to go anywhere in person, I know this year’s virtual STEMfest will transport them to a world of science, technology, engineering and maths from the comfort of their homes and classrooms.

“This year’s line-up is as exciting as ever with a fantastic range of resources and I’m delighted that the council have been able to support the event for another year.”

Natalie Goodchild, of CGG, the headline sponsor of Crawley STEMfest, said: ”We are delighted to again be supporting Crawley STEMfest in its first-ever virtual format. We are sure schools and homeschoolers will benefit from participating in this educational interactive event.

“Young people have missed live events during the pandemic and it’s vital we continue to offer them inspiration and guidance as they plan their future career paths. Because the event is virtual even more young people can get involved and families can also learn together at home. 

“Our employees really enjoy giving something back to the Crawley community, so we hope everyone enjoys our fun activities including the ‘Edible Geology’ series, which teaches the principles of geology using cake, jelly and gingerbread!”

Estelle Whewell, Operations Manager at Sussex STEM, said: ”We are extremely proud to be organising Crawley STEMfest for the ninth consecutive year. It’s been a pleasure working with all our sponsors albeit in a different way to previous years and it’s really heartwarming that so many of their employees have contributed fun and inspiring activities. We appreciate and thank each and everyone involved, and hope we continue to inspire many future Crawley scientists and engineers.”

The festival comes as Greater Brighton leaders prioritise skills training for young people to help the region bounce back from the pandemic. 

City Region member Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership has contributed £831,000 to Plumpton College for its plans to create an Advanced Skills Centre in Brighton’s Stanmer Park for horticulture and woodland and tree management.

Meanwhile the University of Sussex and University of Brighton, both City Region members, have committed to running fully-funded six-week internships at SMEs for graduates as part of its Step-Up training programme in summer 2021.

Greater Brighton leaders have also agreed a bounceback plan to help support the region’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.