Young people across the North West of England will benefit from a groundbreaking new educational facility in Preston.
This week saw the launch, with several bangs, of the UCLan and Ri Young Scientist Centre in Preston, the result of a collaboration between the University of Central Lancashire and the Royal Institution. Children, scientists and educators gathered to celebrate the official opening of the centre and take part in spectacular demonstrations.
Aiming to inspire and engage the scientists and engineers of the future, the centre is a beacon for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in Lancashire. Young people can experience and explore real life science in a state-of-the-art laboratory, covering topics including DNA extraction, forensics, environmental analysis and the science of colour.
Special guest and ribbon-cutter at the launch was teenage scientist Jamie Edwards, the youngest person ever to create a nuclear fusion reaction. “I’m really excited by science and think it’s important to show others how much fun you can have with STEM subjects,” he said. “These sorts of facilities aren’t always accessible for school students so the Young Scientist Centre will really help to encourage other young people to reach their potential and enable them to explore science and engineering in an exciting environment.”
Also speaking at the event, Minister of State for Education Nick Gibb MP said: “This country is a modern economy, a growing, booming economy. We need more scientists. The predictions are that we need seven million people with a good science education for industry by 2030.”
Dr Liz Granger, manager of the UCLan and Ri Young Scientist Centre (YSC), added: “At UCLan we are dedicated to providing an enriched experience and encouraging our students to immerse themselves in the world of science and technology, how it works and how this knowledge can be applied to later life. The YSC creates an exciting environment that will motivate young people to embrace STEM subjects before they consider career paths.”
The centre is modelled on the successful L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre at the Ri’s headquarters in London. David Porter, manager of the London centre said: “It’s so good to see the centre here operational and getting students in and inspiring them to see that science is a creative process not just something to be learned from a textbook, but something to discover for themselves.
“One of the greatest things that we see about all students that come into our young scientist centre is that they go away feeling empowered that they can experiment with the world. We know we have something that schools want, that students want ,that hopefully will go on to inspire many hundreds or even thousands of scientists.”
The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) was founded in 1828 as the Institution for the Diffusion of Knowledge. Since those early days it has grown into one of the UK’s largest universities with a staff and student community approaching 38,000 and an employment-focused course portfolio containing over 350 undergraduate programmes and nearly 250 postgraduate courses. The University has an established research reputation with world-leading or internationally excellent work taking place within the areas of business, health, humanities and science.
As a truly global institution with a new campus in Cyprus, UCLan’s student body includes 120 nationalities and its partnership network extends to 125 countries. In 2013 the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings awarded UCLan the full five stars for its global outlook in all aspects of international educational provision.
The University has a strong focus on continually improving the student experience and has invested nearly £100 million in the last five years on new buildings and facilities to support teaching, learning and leisure activities.