TV star Brian Cox in West Cumbria for science festival

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4 May 2017 7:58AM

A science festival, headed by Professor Brian Cox, hopes to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists when it comes to Cumbria.

Infinity Festival will be the first event of its kind in Cumbria and its aim is to inspire 13 and 14-year-olds from across the county to pursue careers in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths.

Prof Cox, BBC broadcaster and professor of particle physics at the University of Manchester, will be the headline act at the festival.

He said: “I am delighted to be a part of this event. Britain needs more scientists and engineers and I urge the young people of Cumbria to sign up to join the festival and experiment with science.

“I look forward to meeting everyone on September 28.”

More than 200 teenagers from across Cumbria will be invited to go to Infinity Festival at West Lakes Academy, Egremont.

There will be motivating talks, exciting hands-on experiments and workshops, as well as information on employment opportunities, training options and career paths.

The idea for the festival was born last year when 24 young people from west Cumbria went to the Science Summer School in London. Organisers were so inspired by the young people’s levels of enthusiasm, they decided to hold a similar event in Cumbria.

Pete Woolaghan, festival organiser from the REACT foundation, has high hopes for Infinity Festival and believes it will make a real difference to people’s lives because he saw how inspired last year’s group were.

He said: “I know it’s going to make a difference. This is going to have 220 young people from across Cumbria and we’re going to run them through that process: they will go away from it with a spring in their step.”

In the evening the teenagers’ parents will be invited to a reception which will include interviews with scientists and pupils by Professor Cox.

The aim is to engage with parents to get them on board, supporting their children to aspire to a future with no limits.

Lord Andrew Mawson, who is a co-founder of the Science Summer School, is also sure the event in Cumbria will be a big success .

He said: “The event in London has been running successfully for five years and our research has shown it has not only built confidence but has also enabled 50 per cent of pupils, many on free school meals, to gain places at Russell Group Universities. In addition, about 50 per cent have gone on to study STEM subjects.

“This event is a great opportunity to promote Cumbria, the massive investment in new energy generation, other advanced technology development and associated job opportunities, and to demonstrate to a national audience that Cumbria is a fantastic place to live and work.”

Mr Woolaghan added: “This is the first festival of its kind to be held outside London and it’s an amazing opportunity for Cumbia’s young people.

“We believe that the whole community of Cumbria needs to encourage and support our young people to be inspired to become the next generation of world-class scientists and engineers and to be supported to study, and succeed, in gaining the necessary qualifications.”

The festival has been created by the University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, working closely with the REACT Foundation. It is also supported by a range of industries and academia.

The event is also supported by the Well Whitehaven initiative, working to improve health and well-being by realising the potential of people and communities.

Sandra Booth, pro vice chancellor of the University of Cumbria, said the university was very excited to be involved. Professors from the university will be giving speeches and they will be showing how students can gain qualifications in science and engineering.

Schools will be contacted in early May and pupils asked to sign up to join the festival. The full line up of speakers will be revealed in the coming weeks.

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