The Big Bang Fair at the NEC is the biggest STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) event for schools in Britain. This year just over 68,000 visitors attended, and we got to see quite a few of them.
Our stand at Big Bang 2015 was in the On the Move section between a giant Connex model of the Bloodhound supersonic car and robotics competitions. Over half of our visitors looked very confused to find a bunch of bloodthirsty Vikings at a STEM fair, which was good. Our message was that through an understanding of Science you can gain a greater understanding of History. As well as the usual tales of pillage, invasion and battles, our team was there to explain how the Viking Age wouldn’t have started without the right technology: the longship.
Chief Viking, Bjarni Thorvaldrson, was interviewed by the Institution of Engineering and Technology to explain how the Viking longship was a revolution in maritime technology, that wasn’t superseded until the 15th century. Although, if you get the joke, it was actually only a quarter revolution in technology, as you’ll see in the video below.
People were very surprised to get lessons in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics from our stand, finding out how Vikings started fires with flint and steel, made oil out of pine wood, what medicines were available then and how effective they were (some of them very effective, as you can find out from some exciting research done at Nottingham University), plus, of course, how Vikings used to fight. But, as Big Bang is a STEM fair, the emphasis was on how the physical characteristics of the different weapons dictated how they were used and the type of damage they could cause.
Bjarni, as well as his friends Rigg Erlsson the longship captain from Traders, Invaders and Raiders, and Floki Bjorkman from Wild Dog Outdoors are also appearing at the regional Big Bang North West at Aintree Racecourse this summer, as well as the Big Bang West Midlands at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. In the meantime, here’s Bjarni threatening a poor victim with a Dane Axe.