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More than 1,000 young people enjoyed a hands-on experience of science and technology at a careers show.
The Big Bang at Discovery Park, Sandwich, attracted students from dozens of secondary schools across the county.
Organised by Education Business Partnership Kent, the ambitious event was backed by the government and big-name businesses such as BAE Systems, Cummins Power Generation, Discovery Park and Pfizer.
It aimed to inspire young people to look to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as great career options.
There has been concern that the UK may fall behind other countries if more people are not attracted to STEM subjects.
EBPK chief executive Anne McNulty said: “These young people will be entering a different economy.
“We expect them to lead the charge so today is about pushing them forward, empowering them to make decisions.”
Big Bang – part of East Kent Skills Fest – gave young people an insight into the world of analytical chemistry, biomedical processes and quantum physics.
They tried their hand at a helicopter flight simulator designed and made by BAE Systems, based in Rochester, and found out what it’s like to steer a high-speed skeleton in the Winter Olympics, courtesy of Bromley Technologies.
BAE Systems graduate Victoria Roots, 27, said: “You don’t have to be interested in maths or science to come into an engineering career.”
She wanted more girls to look at the option.
“We try to make it more female friendly. You don’t have to get your hands dirty. A lot of it is computer-based.”
Lucia Hoyle, 13, from Broadstairs, said “I hadn’t really thought of this as a career but I enjoyed the experience, although it was quite hard.”
Aylesford School deputy head Kelly Holden-Smith brought 25 Year 9 students with her. She said: “They got a lot out of it. It’s been really well organised and it’s nice to hear such a wide range of speakers. The kids really enjoyed it.”
Kent County Council cabinet member for economic development Mark Dance said: “This is exactly what we are aspiring to do. Anne involves businesses and knows what they want.”
Discovery Park is now home to 1,400 jobs and dozens of hi-tech companies.
Managing director Paul Barber said. “Hopefully the kids who get inspired by coming here will want to work here one day.”
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