The University of Southampton

Bringing research to life: University of Southampton at the Big Bang Fair

Published: 10 March 2014

Come face-to-face with an interactive rhino, marvel at the wonders of the Universe, make your own robot, crack a code, explore gravitational waves, or build a bridge out of paper and sticky tape and see how many chocolate bars it can hold.

Take part in these and other exciting activities when you visit the University of Southampton’s stand at this year’s Big Bang Fair.

The Fair takes place at the NEC in Birmingham, from March 13 to 16, and a team from the University of Southampton will be on hand to challenge you in a range of interactive demonstrations exploring the innovative research taking place at the University:

Get up close to Erica the Rhino – 13-16 March She grunts and snorts and even responds to tweets. Erica the Rhino is an almost lifesize, fibreglass rhino that can react to the environment around her. Adapted by Electronics and Computer Science students, Erica is powered by Raspberry Pis, sensors, LEDs and sound output. Visit our stand to find out how we brought Erica to life.

Build a robot –14-15 March Ever wondered what it is like to build your own robot? Come along and get an interactive engineering and computing experience and find out how to make and control robots using hands-on demos and Raspberry Pis.

Explore the world of nanotechnology – 14-15 March Investigate engineering at a very small scale. Nanotechnology looks at materials that are smaller than a strand of hair. Experiments have to be carried out in clean rooms where no extra particles of dust and germs can contaminate the process. Head over to our stand to take part in a range of real experiments and experience what it is like to work in a clean room environment.

Marvel at the wonders of the skies –13-16 March Explore the secrets our Universe has to offer by stepping inside our mobile planetarium – the Soton Astrodome. Southampton students will guide you through the wonders of the night sky and explain more about the pioneering astrophysics research being carried out at the University.

Leading the way with laser technology – 16 March Be dazzled with our hands-on activities demonstrating how telephone, video and messaged data is sent around the world using lasers. Play with mirrors, lenses and transistors and learn more about our world-leading research into particle physics.

Constructing Bridges – 13 March Use four pieces of paper and a metre of sticky tape to construct your own bridge to span a 40cm gap. How many Mars bars will your construction take? Can you beat the record? Our exhibit helps demonstrate the fundamental principles of construction faced by civil engineers in their day-to-day roles.

Signal and Noise - 13-16 March How do we use mathematics to find patterns in the world? The world is full of information, but can we ignore the ‘noise’ we don't want and find the ‘signal’ that is hidden underneath?

• Can mathematics help us find out other people's secrets, and keep our own? Become an amateur mathematical James Bond and have a go at cracking a code. • Using only jelly beans, a kebab stick, and a small amount of sticky tape, we demonstrate how gravity is transmitted in the form of a wave. • Could you use statistics to win a million? Take part in various games of chance and see if you can find the pattern that allows you to predict the world, and win your first million.

To find out more about the world-leading research being carried out at the University of Southampton visit

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