Minilab goes to the Explorers Fair!
Last week, we travelled to Nottingham from London to take part in the first ever Explorers Fair. From Broadway Cinema’s creative studio, Near Now, and part of the Festival of Science and Curiosity, the Explorers Fair brought together exhibitors from diverse STEM backgrounds. Coding, microscopy, virtual reality and of course astronomy! We presented Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System to children, teachers and parents – and astronomical fun was had by all…
We began with primary school day, welcoming 9-10 year olds from local schools for a lesson in the wonders of our solar system. From those who were rocket scientists in the making to those who were a little shy, the children worked both solo and in groups to ace the jetpack challenges at the end of each level. It was amazing to see such young people develop an already impressive knowledge of space. As is often the case with kids, they challenged us with questions we felt tempted to Google behind our backs… Professor Astro Cat has already been implemented in schools, and getting feedback from teachers is something we always look forward to. So, hearing that some saw such potential in the app that they were considering taking a back seat during science class and letting the Prof take over was great news!
We also brought along the Astro Cat books by Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman. While some kids were glued to their screen, others were happy flicking through the bold, colourful pages of Atomic Adventure and Frontiers of Space. We invited the kids to take inspiration from Ben Newman’s eye-catching aesthetic, and create their own space creatures!
For the second day of the fair, we took a break from exhibiting and experienced the fun first-hand with several secondary schools. First, we were treated to a talk on the basics of astronomy and the history of human exploration and observation. Even after all the research it takes to create an astronomy app, there’s always more to be learnt… But there wasn’t time to stand and stare, however beautiful the photos from Hubble happened to be! We moved on to discover 3D printing, virtual reality headsets, museums in boxes and more.
On the final day of the fair, we were back at work talking and teaching and playing until we dropped. The app quickly filled up with the profiles of hundreds of children, all aiming for the glory of the Prestige Medal, awarded to those who complete their space rocket. And, in the final seconds of the day, that dream was achieved by a couple of young play testers with steely determination. They sat on the Apple TV version of the app for almost an hour, drilling through the jetpack challenges and cramming every fact they could into their brains, as their parents looked on, bewildered. This is what we look forward to whenever we showcase our apps to kids!
Overall, the Explorers Fair was a fantastic celebration of STEM subjects, with a lively group of kids (and adults!) who couldn’t have helped us more in working towards the ongoing improvement to our Astro Cat app. A huge thank you to all of the organisers of the Festival of Science and Curiosity 2017.
If you’d like to learn more about Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System, just click here. Astro Cat takes children aged 7-11 on a tour of the solar system, exploring the boiling centre of the Sun to the freezing gases of Neptune. Adventure awaits!