Professor Brian Cox inspires Northern Ireland STEAM students through Science School project

Wednesday 24 January 2024

Leading physicist and television presenter Professor Brian Cox CBE OBE FRS travelled to Ballymena yesterday for an innovative schools initiative aimed at inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers and inventors.

Professor Brian Cox and pupils at the Science Summer School event in The Braid, Ballymena

Professor Cox hosted the ‘Science Summer School’ at The Braid in Ballymena on Tuesday January 23, alongside leading educators and influencers from the world of science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths.

It is hoped the initiative, spearheaded by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and key companies within the Manufacturing Task Force, will help activate the curiosity of up to 400 young people, via a combination of STEAM seminars, discussions, hands-on experiments and insights.

Professor Cox, who was formerly a keyboard player with pop group D:Ream, also lead an evening panel session for students and parents to highlight the career pathways and opportunities available to the future workforce.

“I was thrilled to show Northern Ireland students how developing an interest in science can help them obtain an exciting career and fulfilling job,” said Professor Cox.

“The event offered a superb mix of interesting people and innovative experiments - activating the curiosity of everyone attending.

“Northern Ireland has a key role to play in making the UK the best place in the world to do science and engineering.”

The event also featured the experiences of special guests from earlier in the day.

Keynote speakers included male midwife Vince Rosales, Dr Erin Higgins, astrophysicist at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, and Dr Andrew McIntosh, Head of Research and Development at Kilwaughter Minerals.

Pupils from schools in Ballymena, Larne, Carrickfergus, Carnlough and Newtownabbey took part, including Ballymena Academy, Slemish College, St Louis Grammar, Larne Grammar and Larne High School.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, said the Council was delighted to be working with local businesses, schools, universities, and partner organisations to bring this initiative to the borough.

“The Science School lifts a lid on the myriad of opportunities that exist in science,” Ald Mulvenna said.

“It is our hope that young people will be inspired to embark on an exciting future in this field – and maybe even become leaders in science.”

The Science Summer School project was established in 2012 at St Paul’s Way Trust School in East London by Professor Cox and Lord Andrew Mawson OBE.

It has since expanded nationally with the aim of making “the UK the best place to do science and engineering in the world.”

The event was sponsored by the following members of the Mid and East Antrim Manufacturing Task Force (MTF); Kilwaughter Minerals, Ryobi, IPC Mouldings, Terumo Blood and Cell Technologies, Michelin Development, Caterpillar, Yelo, GES Group, Wrightbus and Phoenix Energy.

The Science Summer School initiative is also supported by MEA Labour Market Partnership, funded by the Department for Communities.

Graham Whitehurst MBE, Chair of the MTF, commented that collaboration between industry and educational establishments for skills development and nurturing future talent is an essential part of the MTF.

“We are delighted for this opportunity to get alongside up to 400 students from across Northern Ireland, showcase the STEAM career opportunities that our MTF members provide and inspire young people to work with us in the future.

“For this year’s event, our member companies brought a fantastic range of immersive workshops from ‘The Art of Air: Investigating Cement Renders through Touch and Feel’ to ‘the Terumo Brownie Factory’. Each workshop provided first-hand experience and interaction, demonstrating to students that a variety of skills and abilities are needed to make an effective workforce, and that there are great opportunities for them in Mid and East Antrim.”

Fiona Byrne, Organisational Development Director for headline sponsor Kilwaughter Minerals added: “Kilwaughter Minerals Limited are delighted to be the headline sponsor of the Science Summer School.

“As a key employer in Mid and East Antrim we pride ourselves in developing relationships with schools and supporting initiatives that encourage engagement and to inspire the next generation of local talent and the future workforce.  Our team are excited to be involved and have engaged in a series of events through this initiative.”

For further information on the initiative visit our Science Summer School section