THOUSANDS of schoolchildren have been inspired to learn more about science over the past week following fun live shows hosted by a well-known TV and radio personality (@REACTFoundation).

Scientist, presenter and author Simon Watt brought his highly entertaining and engaging Look Up! Science Show to West Cumbria as part of REACT Foundation’s annual Live Primary Science Shows, and pupils were left awestruck after the TV personality taught them all about space and the universe.

REACT Foundation was created as a charitable organisation in 2004 to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers in the area, and the free shows are a key part of the Foundation’s activities to achieve this goal.

The science shows were held over three days and supported by RWE, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the University of Cumbria, and marked a welcome return of live audiences after last year’s shows were streamed online due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Watt said: “It’s great that these shows have been provided for children all across West Cumbria, and the aim is to show schoolchildren that science is for everybody whether they live in an urban or rural location. Children are our future scientists and engineers, and it’s important we inspire them.

“Children are naturally curious and anything we can do to stoke their enthusiasm is brilliant, and that is exactly what the science shows run by the REACT Foundation do.

“Harnessing the children’s curiosity makes the world a better place, and there’s nothing greater than running these shows and seeing the children excited to learn and engaging with science.”

The shows, aimed primarily at pupils in Years 5 and 6, were a huge hit with schoolchildren who were invited to participate by using props and inflatables to better understand the universe.

St Patrick’s Primary School in Cleator Moor was invited to join in with the fun and Year 5 pupil Lilly said: “The show was really funny and I want to learn more about science now. Simon made learning about things really fun.”

Year 6 pupil Ricky added:

“The show was really fun and I liked all the jokes he made, especially about how chocolate bars are named after the planets and stars.”

Jean Gillson, the science leader at St Patrick’s, was delighted the school was able to return to the live shows, and praised the work of the REACT Foundation.

She said:

“The school has come to the science shows for many years because they are interactive and engaging, and make the children enthused about science. What Simon taught about the universe is really relevant to the national curriculum and what we are teaching in class.

“Being in Cumbria which is a very isolated area, it can be difficult to expose children to stuff beyond the curriculum so it’s great these science shows are brought to the children in our area.

“For the children, learning new things from somebody who isn’t their teacher always helps it sink in, and raises their aspirations that they could do science when they are older too.”

Leanne Long, the assistant headteacher at nearby Montreal Church of England Primary School, added:

“The children have really enjoyed it, especially when they were able to get involved. The opportunity to meet a real life scientist like Simon will forever stick in their minds and it inspires them to learn more.” 

REACT Foundation, operated by volunteers, was recently awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the equivalent to an MBE for volunteer groups.

Since it was founded in 2004, the Foundation has worked with more than 80,000 young people across West Cumbria, inspiring many to forge careers in engineering and science.

Pete Woolaghan, chair of REACT Foundation, said:

“The live science shows are a highlight of the year, and having someone like Simon who can engage with the children and bring science to life is something that will inspire them for years to come.

“The Foundation exists to provide more opportunities for young people to access science, and we are delighted to see so many schoolchildren join in and go away wanting to try the experiments at home. That for us is the ultimate reward.”

The primary schools which participated over the three days were: Derwent Vale, St Gregory’s, Victoria, St Patrick’s, Dean (all Workington),  Maryport, Broughton Moor, Holme St Cuthbert, Dearham, Our Lady and St Patrick’s (all Maryport), Blennerhasset, Rosley, St Cuthbert’s, Thomlinson (all Wigton), Jericho, St Begh’s (both Whitehaven), Montreal, St Patrick’s (both Cleator Moor), Frizington Community, St Joseph’s (both Frizington), Captain Shaw’s, Thwaites (both Millom) Arlecdon, Gosforth (Seascale), St Bega’s (Holmrook), Thornhill (Egremont), St Mary’s (Kells), Ennerdale and Kinniside, Broughton (Great Broughton), Silloth, St Bees Village, St Michael’s (Bothel), Eaglesfield Paddle (Cockermouth) and Haverigg.

In addition to the Live Primary Science Shows, the Foundation is busy working with Watt to finalise details for a brand new event for the secondary schools in the area, the first REACT Foundation Big Science Quiz of the Year.  

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