Cardiff STEM leaders offer expert advice on tackling the skills gap

By Raspberry Jim,

Innovative thinking and dynamic partnerships between STEM leaders and educators are the key to reversing a “catastrophic” shortfall of over 200,000 scientific workers a year, according to Cardiff’s business leaders.

Experts from Sony UK Technology Centre, scientific educational charity Techniquest, and intellectual property firm Wynne Jones IP, are speaking out to mark British Science Week from March 8th to the 17th.

They are sharing their views after a report from Engineering UK showed that 203,000 people with higher engineering skills will be needed across the sector annually to meet demand until 2024.

In a bid to tackle this issue, the three Cardiff STEM leaders, whose businesses are at the forefront of driving innovation across the engineering, science, and technology sectors, are offering their advice to bridge the skills gap.

Sony UK TEC

Wales’s leading manufacturing facility Sony UK Technology Centre is considered a global innovator when it comes to engineering excellence.

With Sony UK TEC blending both practical and educational elements into its work with schools, Director of Professional Services Gerald Kelly believes that a combination of both is the solution to solving the growing skills shortfall.

The Pencoed facility, which produces high specification broadcast cameras for worldwide distribution, is renowned for being at the forefront of technological progression, and driving innovation across the manufacturing industry.

The Welsh site has not only developed a global reputation for producing leading technology such as the 4K camera, Nimway, and Raspberry Pi, but it is also renowned for ensuring digital literacy is widely accessible for a new generation of budding scientists.

As such, the facility runs an in-house Digital competency programme, which sees Sony UK TEC work with schools across Wales to provide access to media and broadcast technology.  It also runs a Learn2Code workshop, which encourages pupils to write their own code and learn about how technology is embedded into manufacturing.

With Sony UK TEC blending both practical and educational elements into its work with schools, Director of Professional Services Gerald Kelly believes that a combination of both is the solution to solving the growing skills shortfall.

He said: “Here at Sony UK TEC we firmly believe that it is not enough, or fair for industry to rely solely on education to deliver what is needed in terms of STEM.

“So we engage with schools and the Curriculum for Wales ourselves, and deliver bespoke programmes which are both fun, and inspire curiosity among pupils, while delivering vital technology knowledge.

“I think it’s this equal blend of the practical and the educational which will ultimately drive pupils to consider STEM careers and consequently tackle the much-publicised skills shortfall in the future.

“We believe that introducing STEM through a more interactive manner will undeniably encourage pupils to reconsider STEM roles, and explore the vast variety of careers available to them throughout the industry.

“It’s fundamental that manufacturers work with schools to expose children to rewarding and enriching roles as part of their curriculum, in order to peak their interest from a younger age.

“Most importantly we believe that it is vital that children are able to easily access and learn about coding, which is undeniably shaping the future of not just manufacturing, but the future of industries globally.”

Techniquest

As Wales’s leading science discovery centre, Techniquest has also seamlessly combined innovative STEM engagement with educational learning for over 30 years.

Techniquest’s Chief Executive Officer, Lesley Kirkpatrick, believes it is at a fundamental educational level that the nationwide STEM skills shortage can be curbed.

The popular centre, which is based in the bay, recognises the importance of promoting rewarding STEM careers and engagement through an interactive blend of unique scientific exhibits, shows and talks, along with educational outreach at hundreds of schools across Wales.

And Techniquest’s dedication to advancing STEM skills and making science more accessible, is set to get a significant boost after a £5.7 million expansion plan, which will see the centre increase in size by over 60% , was given the go ahead.

With this in mind, chief executive officer Lesley Kirkpatrick, believes it is at a fundamental educational level that the nationwide STEM skills shortage can be curbed.

She said: “As a charity which believes passionately in the ability of STEM skills to transform career potential, we have been heavily involved in discussions surrounding the predicted shortfall and how this can be reversed.

“It is incredibly concerning from a number of perspectives, as the STEM industry and its continued innovation plays such a vital role in the nation’s economic success. Equally, the lack of skilled workers could lead to declining levels of technological development across the UK in the coming years, and a lack of STEM uptake could see thousands of students miss out on their true professional potential.

“From our perspective it appears that the shortfall can be tackled at a fundamental educational level, by encouraging schools, universities, and science centres, such as ourselves, to work collaboratively to promote rewarding STEM careers and their diversity at all stages of learning.

“By forging dynamic working relationships, which highlight the significant benefits and exciting prospects afforded through STEM, we believe that we can embed scientific engagement into early learning and create a spark for STEM throughout Wales.

“To highlight this we have worked diligently with schools to develop and deliver an education programme that enhances and enriches the STEM curriculum and enthuses and excites pupils from Foundation phase to A level.

“We believe collaboration is key to not only curbing the shortage, but reinvigorating the sector in the years to come.”

Wynne Jones IP

Intellectual property may not be the first profession you consider when discussing STEM.

But with chemistry, biology, physics, and engineering graduates all choosing the industry, it’s evident that scientific skills are not just relevant, but essential to success in this profession.


Dr Nation believes that diversifying STEM career options and assessing business needs is crucial to attracting talent and tackling the STEM skills shortage.

Many STEM graduates may feel limited in their career options if the laboratory or research isn’t for them, however intellectual property gives them a chance to diversify and think outside the box to protect the trademarks, patents, and designs of products and companies worldwide.

Wynne Jones IP, which has offices in Cardiff, Cheltenham, London, and Telford, specialises in advising across all areas of intellectual property, with a particular focus on the STEM sector.

And when it comes to attracting STEM graduates and supporting them to achieve their potential, the firm is ahead of the curve.

It has established its own highly successful four-year training academy, which educates and shapes trainees into well-rounded, industry leading attorneys. This has seen success year on year, and commercial director Dr Jayne Nation believes it offers an exciting alternative for those looking to pursue STEM careers.

Dr Nation believes that diversifying STEM career options and assessing business needs is crucial to attracting talent and tackling the STEM skills shortage.

She said: “STEM careers not only allow you to achieve something truly worthwhile personally, they enable you to make a profound difference to vast industries and potentially change the lives of millions of people worldwide.

“It is for this reason that the STEM skills shortage is incredibly concerning and could prove to be catastrophic if it is not addressed quickly.

“From my perspective there are a number of ideas which could tackle this. Developing business and education task forces in major, strategically targeted tech sectors, could identify current business technology needs and skills that aren’t being met and which are in great demand. This could anticipate future business requirements and tech trends to ensure people have the relevant skills.

“Intervention at an educational level is also vital, and as such establishing combined academic and vocational training packages for students over 18 could really provide a boost.

“These could cover both academic training in STEM, alongside tech training within a job, that will directly fill the UK priority skills gaps. If they were run as a joint programme, combining academic and vocational learning, they could become a training experience of prestige that is sought after.

“It could also be beneficial to look at reward and remuneration of STEM jobs in key areas where there are big skill gaps. Businesses could offer bursaries, enhanced salaries and other rewards to attract people into these STEM roles in targeted sectors.”

IP expert praises one million women in STEM roles to mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science

By Raspberry Jim,

A leading intellectual property expert has said it is “incredibly encouraging” to see almost one million women in STEM roles for the first time but called for continued action to support this upwards trend.

Commercial director Dr Jayne Nation, at leading intellectual property firm Wynne Jones IP, said it was hugely encouraging to see that 908,318 women occupied core STEM roles in 2018.

The figures from the Wise Campaign show that this is up 22% from the 864,278 roles occupied by women in 2017.

The number of female engineering professionals also increased by 25% last year, which brings the total number of female engineers to nearly 58,000 – more than double the number there were in 2013.

Women also now make up 43.2% of the total science professional workforce reaching 60,039 in 2018 from 57,371 in 2017, the Wise Campaign statistics showed.

However, the number of women and men undertaking science and engineering technician roles fell sharply from 97,064 in 2017 to 90,998 in 2018.

Dr Nation, who has over 25 years’ experience as a scientist specialising in chemistry and psychology, along with a wealth of experience in senior management in scientific fields, is speaking out about gender equality to mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11th.

The international initiative, from the United Nations, aims to recognise the vital contribution of women and girls throughout the scientific community.

Dr Nation said the increase in female representation across STEM professions was a significant step in the right direction, however she added it was “vital” that businesses across the sector continued to invest in, and support talented women.

She said: “As a woman who has proudly worked across the science and intellectual property fields for more than two decades it is immensely thrilling and encouraging to see female representation in these sectors rise to almost one million for the first time.

“It essential that gender equality in STEM professions is consistently recognised as the norm, as this will inevitably filter down through the generations and encourage more young women into undertaking fulfilling STEM degrees and pursuing rewarding careers.

“This can only be positive when we look at predictions of a forthcoming STEM skills gap, which will no doubt be narrowed by the greater inclusion of women throughout the industry.

“However, as we celebrate the fantastic progress that is being made as part of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we must also ensure this momentum continues in order to support an ongoing upwards trajectory when it comes to female representation in STEM.

“It is vital that businesses at all levels of the STEM sector continue to actively encourage and recruit women into the industry, and ensure they occupy not just apprentice and entry level roles, but that they are given opportunities at management and director level too.”

Wynne Jones IP, which specialises in advising businesses and inventors in a wide range of sectors worldwide on all aspects of IP rights, strategy and renewals, is a proud founding signatory of the IP Inclusive Charter.

The charter was set up to promote equality, diversity and inclusion within the UK’s IP sector, ensuring accessibility and support to all those who have the necessary aptitude, regardless of their age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, physical ability, wealth or background.

How apprenticeships could save the ‘crisis-hit’ STEM workforce

By Raspberry Jim,

According to recent figures the UK’s crisis-hit STEM sector is currently facing a “worrying” shortfall of over 170,000 workers, with leading manufacturer Sony UK Technology Centre (UK TEC) claiming apprenticeships could be the future.

Statistics from STEM Learning reveal a discrepancy of 173,000 skilled workers across the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) sectors, which is reportedly costing companies around £1.5 billion annually in recruitment costs.

This comes as nine in ten STEM businesses revealed they struggled to employ staff with the necessary skills between 2017 and 2018, according to the STEM Skills Indicator.

However, Gerald Kelly, the director of professional services at leading manufacturer Sony UK TEC, said apprenticeships could be “a fundamental stepping stone” to solving the growing issue.

Mr Kelly, who started his career as an apprentice, spoke out about the benefits of such schemes as figures from the Department for Education showed that over 341,000 people elected to start an apprenticeship between 2017 and 2018.

It was also revealed that over 74,000 starts between 2016 and 2017 were in engineering and manufacturing sectors, House of Commons’ findings show.

Mr Kelly said: “Apprenticeships really are a highly effective way to kickstart your career, and acquire unparalleled hands-on experience in the real world, all while continuing your studies.

“In particular I believe that an engineering apprenticeship can be beneficial, as it can offer an in- depth insight into what an engineer’s working life really entails and the diversity that the profession can offer.

“Over the years we have taken on a number of apprentices through our in-house Apprentice Scheme and we consistently find that this first-hand exposure enables them to become well-rounded, confident, and dedicated members of staff.

“Having started as an apprentice myself when I first joined Sony UK TEC, and worked my way up to director of professional services, I can attest to the wide-ranging and rewarding career that an apprenticeship can lead to.

“If our apprenticeship success is anything to go by, I believe that this could be a fundamental stepping stone towards solving the predicted STEM skills shortage that the industry is bracing itself for.”

Here Mr Kelly of Sony UK TEC, which is renowned worldwide for producing high-specification HD broadcast cameras, explains his top three benefits of an engineering apprenticeship.

Incredibly diverse

An apprenticeship offers a unique opportunity work across all areas of the business and develop an in-depth understanding of the profession.

From month to month an apprentice could be working on different industry-leading projects, alongside different teams, and ultimately acquiring a host of diverse skills, which enable them to choose the most rewarding career path.

This is particularly relevant to those seeking to work in manufacturing or engineering, with roles varying from Software Engineering, to Production Engineering, to Development Engineering and Robotics.

Earn as you learn

One of the greatest advantages of an apprenticeship is the ability to earn a wage as you study. Not only will you acquire the direct skills you need to actually perform the role, you can develop the knowledge that enables you to achieve and progress within the profession. You’ll develop meaningful relationships with colleagues and experts throughout the industry, and gain invaluable industry insights, while enhancing your academic understanding.

Hands on experience

One of the most vital aspects of an apprenticeship in engineering is the unique ability to get hands- on experience in a manufacturing setting.

While learning about the theory of engineering is vital, there is no substitute for directly using the required tools and seeing innovative technology created.

This unparalleled experience teaches apprentices a great deal about the potential safety considerations and real-life implications of working in an engineering setting, and also enables them to enjoy the rewards and inevitable sense of achievement.

Sony UK TEC has launched its latest Apprenticeship Scheme recruitment drive, with applicants having until February 28th to apply. Applicants require a minimum of 5 GCSEs, including a B or above in Maths, and Cs or above in Science and English.

Exciting new Techniquest appointment will ‘transform’ engagement and participation opportunities

By Raspberry Jim,

Educational charity Techniquest has appointed an expert new Community Engagement Officer who will transform engagement and participation opportunities as the charity steps into an “exciting” new era.

Kelsey Barcenilla has joined the leading science discovery centre to spearhead engagement with new audiences and community members, whilst also creating new volunteering opportunities as the charity embarks on its multimillion-pound Science Capital project.

Mrs Barcenilla, who will support the Partnerships and Engagement team, will work closely with local communities, delivering events, participation research sessions and collaborative projects which will help the organisation embed a rewarding, inclusive culture of community engagement.

With a wealth of experience which includes international teaching in China and a role with Cardiff Institute for the Blind, she will also be responsible for developing robust relationships with local communities by shaping exciting volunteer opportunities.

The appointment comes at an exciting time for the charity, which will see its innovative Science Capital project brought to life this year.

The new Techniquest is set to open by 2020

The Science Capital, which encompasses a radical transformation and extension of Techniquest’s current building in Cardiff Bay, aims to redevelop the site into a contemporary science hub by 2020.

With interactive and immersive STEM learning experiences designed to pique curiosity and increase interest in the STEM industries, the project is part of the charity’s commitment to developing a scientifically literature society across Wales.

Mrs Barcenilla said she was “over the moon” about her new role.

She said: “I’m thrilled to be joining Techniquest at such a pivotal and exciting time. I’ve over the moon to be joining such an iconic organisation, which has helped shaped my own learning over the years. Growing up, it was always somewhere which ignited excitement, curiosity and learning, and I couldn’t be happier to be involved in its journey.

“I’m looking forward to creating lasting and rewarding relationships with the local communities and really discovering what matters to them. It’s incredibly important to me that I harness these wonderful relationships and create meaningful opportunities for both Techniquest and the community.”

Lesley Kirkpatrick, CEO at Techniquest, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Kelsey to the team for what is set to be a game-changing year for our organisation. With her expertise and natural talent for cultivating relationships, we’re looking forward to seeing her flourish in her new role.”

Techniquest makes crucial appointment ahead of “game-changing” 2019

By Raspberry Jim,

Educational charity Techniquest has recruited a brand-new Head of Engagement and Partnerships ahead of a “game-changing” 2019. 

The appointment is the result of an open recruitment process which saw one of its longstanding employees, Clare James, being promoted to this exciting new role.  Clare was previously the centre’s Fundraising Manager.

As part of her new role, Ms James will lead the charity’s stakeholder engagement programme across its wide range of partners, including corporate sectors, academic institutions, and local communities.

Working with relevant organisations and STEM partners, Ms James will develop crucial relationships and provide essential support in shaping Techniquest’s programmes,  demonstrating the relevance of science to people’s everyday lives. 

After securing £5.7million in funding, the organisation will now march forward with its Science Capital project, set for completion in 2020, which will encompass a radical transformation and extension of its current building in Cardiff Bay.

Discussing her new role, Ms James said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be taking on this new role during such a pivotal and exciting time for Techniquest. I’ve worked diligently to support the charity on its mission to inspire generations of scientists and great thinkers to come, and I’m looking forward to taking on a new challenge and building upon our recent achievements.

“While Techniquest has always been loved by young children and families, we’re now diversifying our audiences and we’re working with our partners, particularly within our communities, to find out how to make science relevant to them and the assets they bring to the partnership.

“2019 is set to be a game-changing year for our organisation. After an incredible year in which we secured a mammoth £5.7million in funding, we’re looking forward to seeing our Science Capital project come to life.”

Lesley Kirkpatrick, CEO at Techniquest said: “We’re delighted to see Clare achieve such great success during her time with us. With her unique insight and expertise, her work as Fundraising Manager has made an incredible difference to the charity.”

“Since starting at the organisation in 2016, Clare has been committed to helping us on our mission to create a scientifically literate society across Wales. Nurturing positive relationships with incredible partners, Clare has been instrumental in our recent successes and we’re all thrilled that she has been successful in this recruitment process.”

Techniquest submits plans for Science Capital project

By Raspberry Jim,

Techniquest has submitted a planning application for its £5.7m Science Capital project, which will see the radical transformation and expansion of its science discovery centre in Cardiff Bay.

Planning has been submitted to extend the educational charity’s current building on Stuart Street to create an additional 900m2 of exhibition floor space.

The scheme, designed by local architecture practice HLM, will significantly increase Techniquest’s footprint providing an additional 60% exhibition space to house brand new innovative content related to, and developed with, Welsh STEM innovators, academics and communities.

The new immersive and innovative exhibition areas and experiences will help Techniquest to diversify its audiences and increase visitor numbers by at least 40%.

Lesley Kirkpatrick, CEO of Techniquest said: “Since securing funding, it has been full steam ahead in our Science Capital project. We’ve been working closely with our consultants to marry up our objectives, with the space we have available, and our ultimate goal of ensuring the charity has a sustainable and long-term future in Wales.

“We’re delighted with the final plans, which are contemporary, inclusive, flexible and eye-catching. Gaining planning consent is naturally a crucial factor in the future of this project so we’re hopeful for a positive result.”

As well as creating a new vibrant public entrance, the plans include a designated community space overlooking the Bay, a new café and shop, in addition to a roof terrace and courtyard designed to host interactive artworks and features to complement exhibitions.

Patrick Arends, leisure and culture sector lead at HLM said: “Techniquest has been providing inspiring scientific education for over 30 years and the new extension will reflect this with a contemporary design that will showcase this unique and much-loved facility in Cardiff.  The Cardiff HLM studio has been working closely with the project team, drawing on its extensive experience in designing top class educational and leisure spaces, to create a vibrant space that is flexible, active and relevant.”

The scheme is being project managed by Lee Wakemans who are working alongside HLM (architects), Hydrock (project engineers) and Wardell Armstrong (planning consultant).

Paul Wong, Director at Lee Wakemans said: “Techniquest is on a marvellous journey of renewal looking to reach a much wider audience. We feel privileged to play our part in helping to translate what the client is seeking to achieve, into an exciting design which will get built and ready for summer 2020. It’s great to have reached this milestone of submitting the planning application and we’re grateful to all team members who have helped us reach this point.”

Subject to planning permission being granted, it is anticipated that work on the extension will commence in Spring 2019, with the new space being open to the public by Summer 2020.

Techniquest Planetarium project marks 50th anniversary of moon landing

By Raspberry Jim,

 

Techniquest is set to take one giant leap into space exploration thanks to a special project marking the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

The educational charity, based in Cardiff Bay, is developing a bespoke show for the centre’s Planetarium to mark the historic event, thanks to new funding from a leading government body.

Techniquest has been awarded £6000 from the Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in 2019.

The funds will be used to develop the innovative new show, which will take visitors on a 360-degree journey through the solar system to explore the mysteries of the moon.

The funding was awarded after one of Techniquest’s science communicators, Martin Palmer-Smith, submitted the idea through its online ideas platform, Simply Do Ideas. The platform is a digital suggestion box which allows staff to pitch ideas and feedback opinions.

Following his submission, his idea was taken forward to the STFC where it received significant recognition, resulting in financial support of £6000.

It has also received a £1000 donation from Tula Trust to help deliver its school outreach programme, which reaches over 50,000 school pupils in Wales annually with its inspirational STEM-focused programmes.

Clare James, fundraising manager at Techniquest said: “We’re extremely grateful to be receiving incredible financial support from both the STFC and Tula Trust, which have both recognised the work that we’re doing to inspire the future generations of cutting-edge scientists.

“As a charity, we rely heavily on the generosity of individuals and organisations to help us on our mission to deliver interactive STEM learning experiences, to not only young children, but people of all ages.

“Thanks to STFC, we’re delighted to begin developing our public Planetarium show to mark Apollo 11’s historic anniversary. We’ll also be using our generous donation from Tula Trust to deliver inspiring outreach programmes to schools across south Wales.”

Techniquest receives charitable boost to engage young children

By Raspberry Jim,

 

Educational charity Techniquest is continuing its mission to inspire the next generation of scientists after receiving generous donations and scooping a high-profile grant.

The science discovery centre, based in Cardiff Bay, conducts inspirational school outreach programmes, reaching over 50,000 pupils in Wales annually.

Thanks to new donations from charitable trusts, its primary school outreach will enjoy significant financial support.

The Simon Gibson Charitable Trust recently selected Techniquest as one of its 140 financial beneficiaries, gifting £4,000 to the educational charity for the second year running. The donation will be used to deliver free outreach to schools in the Glamorgan area, which will see 8 schools engaged with STEM subjects.

The educational charity has also won new support from the Schroder Charity Trust, with a boost of £5,000 to its outreach for Key Stage 2 pupils in disadvantaged communities across south Wales.

With a grant of over £5,000 from the UK Space Agency, the science discovery centre will be using a portable planetarium to deliver free Starlab sessions to 1,500 primary school pupils.

The Space for All grant supports the outreach aims of the agency, encouraging the use of space as inspiration for teaching and learning and raising awareness of STEM subjects in the United Kingdom.

Clare James, fundraising manager at Techniquest said: “We’re delighted and extremely grateful to be receiving such incredible support from The Simon Gibson Charitable Trust, the Schroder Charity Trust and the UK Space Agency.

“As a charity, we rely heavily on the generosity of individuals and organisations to help us on our mission to deliver interactive STEM learning experiences.

“By taking our educational outreach programmes and Starlab in to local schools, these incredible donations will be used to inspire the future generations of cutting-edge scientists.”

Techniquest secures £3m funding for The Science Capital

By Raspberry Jim,

Techniquest has secured £3m of funding to make science more accessible to the people of Wales.

Awarded through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Wellcome Trust’s Inspiring Science Fund, the funding means that Wales’ much-loved educational charity can move forward with its plans to radically transform its science discovery centre in Cardiff Bay.

Earlier this year, Techniquest announced plans for The Science Capital — a project which encompasses an extension of its building on Stuart Street and a repositioning exercise to extend and diversify its audiences.

Along with the new funding, the charity has match funding from Moondance Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Welsh Government’s ‘Invest to Save’ fund, and Proton Partners International, meaning it now has the capital to move full steam ahead with this exciting project.

Plans will shortly be submitted for the proposed extension, which will significantly increase Techniquest’s footprint.

The expansion will provide an additional exhibition space to house brand new content, which will be developed with businesses and academics at the forefront of the STEM agenda in Wales and supported by a programme of community co-production.

The new immersive and innovative exhibition areas and experiences will help Techniquest to diversify its audiences and increase visitor numbers by at least 40%.

Lesley Kirkpatrick, CEO of Techniquest said: “We are over the moon to be awarded this funding and are grateful to BEIS and Wellcome for believing in our ambitions. It is the culmination of over a year and a half of hard work from our talented team, who are extremely passionate about this next phase in our evolution.

“It means that our plans to expand our science discovery centre and extend our offering to make science accessible to all, can progress in earnest giving our charity a new lease of life, while ensuring a sustainable and long-term future in Wales.

“We’re extremely excited about turning our exciting plans into a reality.”

Science Minister Sam Gyimah said: “We want to bring the wonders of science to as wide an audience as possible and that’s why it is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy. Today’s investment will help inspire people from across the country to learn about the truly amazing benefits that science and technology has on all our lives.”

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said: “Today’s funding announcement is a welcome boost to many science centres across the UK, and I can’t think of a more worthy recipient than Techniquest in Cardiff Bay.

“The centre is home to many fond memories of children and adults in South Wales and further afield, who were perhaps taking an interest in science and technology for the first time. This funding will allow Techniquest to leap forward in developing cutting edge STEM technology, attracting some of Wales’ sharpest science minds to take a lead role in developing our future society.”

Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mark Drakeford said: “Techniquest plays an important role in promoting science amongst young people in Wales and I am pleased that the Welsh Government has been able to support the Science Capital project through our Invest To Save Fund.”

Taking its project name from a concept conceived by academics at Kings College London, which is a measure of people’s engagement or relationship with science, through The Science Capital Techniquest is committed to creating society that is equipped to understand, question, and enjoy science.

Lesley continued: “At Techniquest, we want to grow people’s science capital by highlighting the role science plays in our everyday lives and demonstrating how STEM and innovative technologies are shaping the future of our society.

“By growing science capital in individuals and the communities of Wales, we can help more people to see science as an important part of their lives and culture, which will help broaden opportunities and access for STEM-related jobs in the future and in turn boost the Welsh economy.”

Techniquest to sci-zzle this summer with new offerings

By Raspberry Jim,

Techniquest's Air-Mazing improvements this summer

Techniquest has unveiled the latest in a series of new offerings as part of its strategy to refresh and renew its visitor experience.

Ahead of the school summer holidays, the science discovery centre based in Cardiff Bay will be introducing three new interactive experiences.

The educational charity has given a new lease of life to its ‘Animate It’ exhibit to bring it into the 21st century. Tying in with technological advances, the new look ‘Animate It’ gives visitors of all ages the opportunity to create their own animation, either from scratch or by customising a series of figures and scenes. Once complete, visitors can watch their creation via a 55-inch screen and through a number of different viewing platforms from history such as the Praxinoscope, as well as being able to email it to themselves to share via their social media channels.

Through the school summer holidays, Techniquest will be trialling a web application to complement its hands-on interactive exhibits. Accessed through the centre’s free public Wi-Fi, the digital platform ‘Look Closer’ will allow visitors and its science communicators to delve deeper into the concepts behind a select number of exhibits, engaging further with STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

The third improvement being made is the introduction of a ‘human body hub’ featuring models of a brain mounted into a skull, a giant molar with dental cavities, an eye with eight removable parts including the iris, retina and lens, a heart, an occluded artery and arm with removable muscles. The human body hub will allow visitors to discover the structure of the different body parts and how they function.

The latest installations follow the launch of a virtual reality changing room last month allowing visitors to get a virtual representation of themselves in a range of costumes including professions, fairytale creatures and animals.

The developments are all part of Techniquest’s summer series, which includes BBC’s Terrific Scientific investigations, science demonstrations on the exhibition floor from Techniquest’s skilled staff and a new show for its Science Theatre. Sponsored by Air Products, Air-Mazing will delve deeper into what air is, what it contains and some of the amazing things that air can do.

Lesley Kirkpatrick, CEO of Techniquest said: “We’re always looking for ways to enhance our visitor experience and extend our appeal to audiences of all ages and we have invested in our offering ahead of the school break to do just that.

“Our new Animate It exhibit, Look Closer app and Human Body Hub will not only inspire and engage people in STEM, but will provide an engaging, memorable and innovative experience for those wanting a fun day out.

“We’re really looking forward to hearing visitors’ feedback on our improvements, particularly our Look Closer web application. This has come about as a result of a digital review of our offering. We believe we’re the first science centre in the UK to have its own bespoke digital application and it is something we hope to build on going forward.”

Techniquest is an educational charity based in Cardiff Bay. Visiting its science discovery centre is a good value, educational day out for all ages, whatever the weather. It prides itself on inspiring audiences to engage with science, technology, engineering and maths.

Techniquest is open every day throughout the summer holidays.