Imaginations sparked at sustainability science fair

Posted on: 12 February, 2020

Schoolchildren’s imaginations were fired up at a sustainability-focused science fair jointly hosted by UCEM and Reading Museum on Saturday.

Solar ‘whirlies’ and biodegradable plant pots were among the attractions which transfixed the 350 guests, comprising primary schoolchildren and their families, at the museum.

UCEM staff led interactive demonstrations for the many inquisitive guests, including planting seeds and beans, creating solar power and biodegradable plant pots, speed recycling, thermal imaging and replicating wind turbines.

Solar energy demonstration at the Science Fair Kids try out the wind turbine MSc Building Surveying Programme Leader, James Ritson, demonstrating thermal imaging to a family A selection of seeds and beans on the UCEM stand at the Science Fair

The event was held to promote UCEM’s competition for pupils in Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6) to design a sustainable Reading in 2070.

UCEM Construction Tutor, Dr John Clarke, reflected: “Great fun was had making ‘solar whirlies’ – cardboard discs that participants could decorate with a multitude of colourful craft materials which were then attached to a motor and powered by a small solar panel which then span around to everyone’s delight.

“The best, judged by Antonia Lindsay [UCEM Research Assistant – Education & Sustainability], were awarded a solar whirlie kit. This was accompanied by a number of practical demonstrations of renewable energy including, wind, solar, kinetic, hydro and fuel cell electricity production.”

The UCEM team at the Science Fair Information leaflets about sustainable transport at the Science Fair

A poster for the 'Reading of the future' schools' competition A happy child at our Science Fair

Competition entrants are asked to provide information about how the town will generate energy, provide environmentally friendly transport, reduce waste, encourage nature and what sustainable materials might be used in construction. To find out more about the competition, visit