STEM Inspiration Awards winners go behind the scenes at STFC

STEM award winners in hard hats and high vis clothing in Boulby Mine

Winners were given unique access to sites across the UK, with visits to Boulby Mine, Daresbury Laboratory and the UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

Sponsored by UK Research and Innovation, the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Inspiration Awards celebrate the individuals, organisations and STEM clubs working to inspire young people in STEM. Recognising people and initiatives that make STEM subjects exciting and accessible, helping to open up pathways to STEM careers.

Winners got to see behind the scenes at these working scientific sites, managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), to learn more about the ground-breaking research taking place.

Going underground

In Yorkshire, winners took the lift down more than a kilometre under the surface of the Earth to STFC’s unique laboratory at Boulby Mine. There they learnt about dark matter experiments taking place deep underground and to see the ‘Mars Yard’ where NASA and the European Space Agency test space rovers and robots before they are sent to distant planets.

It’s just mind blowing what’s going on down there.

Technology in action

At Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire, they got to meet particle accelerator CLARA (Compact Linear Accelerator for Research and Applications), visited the SuRF Lab vertical test facility, and discovered more about the Engineering Technology Centre, Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment and the super computers at the Hartree Centre.

STEM award winners visit the labs at Daresbury

STEM award winners visit the labs at Daresbury. Credit: STFC

The VIP visitors said they were “amazed by the variety of impressive work going at Daresbury Laboratory”. And several said they were very interested in continuing to connect with the lab and collaborate in the future.

Seeing stars

At the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, based at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, the final group of award-winners got to tour the old Victorian Observatory and the Crawford Collection of historic astronomy texts and artifacts. A sharp contrast to the high-tech cutting-edge work the group saw taking place in the labs and workshops on site, including the Multi-Object Optical and Near-infrared Spectrograph, aka MOONS, which ships to the Very Large Telescope in Chile later this year.

STEM award winners on the roof of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh

STEM Award winners on the roof of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh. Credit: STFC

We had a brilliant time learning and seeing more – from that tiny bomb fragment to various telescopes and Newton’s death mask!

Such a privilege to get an insight into it all, and to meet so many passionate and interesting people too; everyone was so welcoming.

Can we come back tomorrow?

Congratulations once again to all the STEM Inspiration Awards winners.

Top image:  STEM award winners in hard hats and high vis clothing in Boulby Mine. Credit: STFC

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