Festival takes science to the stage to inspire Lancaster and Morecambe schoolkids

Phil Bell-Young (left), Giles Kay from Heysham 1 and Ginny Smith with pupils George Willan from Morecambe High, Lewis Brotherton from Heysham High, Ernest Chamerski from Morecambe High, Maddie Parkin from Morecambe High, Rebecca Atkinson from Heysham High and Sophie Heath-Hillman from Heysham High. Photo by Darren Andrews.
Phil Bell-Young (left), Giles Kay from Heysham 1 and Ginny Smith with pupils George Willan from Morecambe High, Lewis Brotherton from Heysham High, Ernest Chamerski from Morecambe High, Maddie Parkin from Morecambe High, Rebecca Atkinson from Heysham High and Sophie Heath-Hillman from Heysham High. Photo by Darren Andrews.
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Youngsters from schools across Lancaster and Morecambe were treated to a special show at the Grand Theatre on Tuesday in a bid to encourage them to take up science and technology as a career.

Run in conjunction with EDF Energy, Heysham Power Stations and Cheltenham Science Festivals, performers entertained up to 700 children from Years 7 to 9 with magic tricks and audience participation to teach them about numerous aspects of science.

Phil Bell-Young performing one of his magic tricks during the performance. Photo by Darren Andrews.

Phil Bell-Young performing one of his magic tricks during the performance. Photo by Darren Andrews.

Sharron Pearson, education manager for Cheltenham Festivals, said: “We are trying to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

“We get some fantastic feedback from the children about science and technology subjects. We are trying to catch them at that critical point at school to keep the spark alive.

“It’s great to come to local theatres and to get so many children involved.”

This was the fifth year that the show had visited the Lancaster district, and it once again proved to be a big success.

Children from Heysham High, Morecambe High, Morecambe Road School, Our Lady’s, Central Lancaster High and both grammar schools attended the event, watching performers do a variety of tricks and experiments aimed at showing how important science and technology are to everyday life.

Giles Kay, strategic outage manager for Heysham 1 power station, said: “When I was at school I found STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects a bit intimidating because I didn’t understand them but when you grow older you realise that it’s all around you.

“It’s about getting the kids to understand a bit more about science and technology before they make their career choices. It can seem a bit intimidating because they are complex subjects, but once you start studying them you see there’s a simplicity and it’s all about the world you live in.

“We are lucky that we have got some great teachers and more access to engineering-based companies to see science being applied, to help grow that interest.

“It’s great that the kids can see science as fun and interesting and that it applies to the world around them. If even a small number of these children generate a bigger interest in STEM subjects as a result then it benefits us all.”

Jane Palin, a science teacher at Morecambe High School, said: “In the classroom there’s a lot that we cannot do so this makes the children see the bigger picture.

“It links to the curriculum and is a different teaching environment for them.”

Phil Bell-Young, one of the festival performers, said: “From when I was little, science has been my whole world. To me, finding things out about how things are possible, and it’s those questions that have led me to this career.

“Inspiring people and getting them to use their imagination is the best thing about it. If we can just inspire one of the children to ask a question then that’s the most important aspect.

“It’s looking at science in a different light, and seeing it as everything – it’s real life.”

Fellow performer Ginny Smith added: “It’s great to see the children really start to think about what they are seeing.”