Circuit festival proves a sure fire science hit

Pupils fron Corran Integrated PS Larne with Mid&East Antrim Deputy Mayor Alderman William McNeilly and the F1 Ferrari.
Pupils fron Corran Integrated PS Larne with Mid&East Antrim Deputy Mayor Alderman William McNeilly and the F1 Ferrari.

Hundreds of young innovators showcased their talent and drive during a four-day festival of all things science, technology, engineering and maths in Mid and East Antrim.

The Circuit Festival, sponsored by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, saw young people from schools, colleges and other education bodies throughout Northern Ireland travel to Ballymena to participate in STEM@TheCircuit events.

Organisers had lined up a packed schedule of challenges, shows and interactive exhibitions to educate and inspire the pioneers of the future.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Audrey Wales MBE, said Council was delighted to back the innovative festival.

She said: “This was a superb event which brought vital STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects to life for the young people involved.

“All of the exhibitions and events were brilliantly presented and educated the pupils and students in fun and exciting ways.”

Many of the events took place within a STEM marquee at Ballymena Showgrounds.

Key partners of the event included Sentinus, Northern Ireland’s main STEM promoter, the Circuit of Ireland team and Catalyst Inc, who provide a home, networks and support for knowledge-based companies and entrepreneurs.

Young people also worked alongside local companies, including NIE Networks, Wrightbus, AES and Sensata, to boost the pupils’ understanding of research and development.

Among the star attractions was a Scuderia Ferrari F1 show car – just one of 25 in the world – which was also made available for the public to view for free.

It featured as part of the Dare To Be Different initiative which attracted 100 girls aged eight to 11.

The lucky participants also took part in events including kart racing, fitness instruction, a pit stop challenge and other STEM challenges.

The F1 in Schools competition pitted pupils’ skills against those of their peers for the chance to take pole position in the Northern Ireland final.

F1 in Schools is an exciting STEM initiative designed to immerse students in the world of Formula One, using science, technology, engineering and maths at its core to produce a model race car.

As part of the challenge, hundreds of children and young people aged 10 to 17 competed to build their very own model F1 car, as well as designing the branding for their team.

Circuit of Ireland Event Director Bobby Willis said: “It has been a wonderful festival.

“The young people had a brilliant time and I am in no doubt they left Ballymena having been inspired by many of the events and exhibitions.

“I want to thank Mid and East Antrim Borough Council for supporting such a forward-looking festival.”

Bill Connor from Sentinus said: “STEM@TheCircuit is all about promoting engagement in science and technology project work, exciting young people about the STEM subjects and promoting innovation.

“STEM skills are vitally important for our young people’s futures and the future of our economy.

“The skills which they learn in science and technology – problem solving, creative thinking, communication, team work, analytical skills – are sought after by all employers, so the STEM subjects give young people a really good basis to build a career on.”

The Circuit Festival took place from Tuesday 4 April until Friday 7 April.