Big Bang Fair 2012

360-degree theatre at the Big Bang Fair

Ellen MacArthur showcased her latest ideas to an audience of young scientists at the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham today. I was delighted to be involved in early content development for her talk, ‘Rethinking the Future’.

Ellen leapt out of a newly-launched electric car at the start of the show, explaining that Birmingham had always been at the forefront of ideas and innovation – the co-inventor of the steam engine, Matthew Boulton was a local lad, for example, And did you also know that once upon at time, 75% of all the writing done anywhere was performed with a fountain pen made in Birmingham?

Screens surround the audience inside

Screens surround the audience inside

Supported by 360-degree AV, she took the audience on a journey that dispensed with the customary guilt of reducing and recycling, and looked to the ways in which new thinking will reshape everything we make and use in the future. From products that we can feed back into the ground or the production system when we’ve finished with them, to gadgets that are so easy to take apart they’re an asset to reuse, not a burden to dispose of – the future is bright, and the future is Ellen.

A giant robotic flying penguin by Festo

A giant robotic flying penguin by Festo

The Fair was packed with school groups today and the NEC buzzed with excitement over hands-on experiments, live demonstrations and a really enormous inflatable penguin that was flying around the arena. I caught up with the Science Museum Learning team whose stand had some enormous, funky exhibits, as well as hearing a live band apparently extolling the virtues of drinking milk.

Since Big Bang is about science, technology and engineering, plenty of companies as well as universities and learned societies were on hand to give an exciting view of life in industry and academia – and that was fine. The Fair’s lead commercial sponsors are Jaguar, Siemens, Shell and BAE Systems, and there seemed to be a light touch with endorsement.

A lingering KitKat logo at the end of a Nestle chocolate demo-vert

A lingering KitKat logo at the end of a Nestle chocolate demo-vert

The same could not be said for the Farm to Fork section of the show which, as I entered it, had an enormous Smarties tube on one side and colossal KitKat on the other, as a Nestle demonstration was going on. Theirs was the biggest logo I saw all day, repeatedly flashing on and off as dozens of children watched a video of chocolate-making at the KitKat factory. No wonder we’re making no progress on food regulation – the industry is far too clever to lose a chance to brainwash children.

16 March 2012