Last week we attended our first STEM festival of the year, held at The Tank Museum. The event was aimed at young people aged thirteen to sixteen, offering an opportunity to inspire them to pursue a career in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) through hands on experiences. 

At Wessex Archaeology, we have an ongoing commitment to supporting STEM initiatives across the UK. Several of our staff members are STEM ambassadors, and we aim to demonstrate the huge variety of career options that these subjects can lead to in the heritage sector. 

Wessex Archaeology STEM Ambassadors Sophie Clarke, Post-Excavation Technician, and Holly Rogers, Geoarchaeologist, joined our Community and Education Manager, Sam Fieldhouse at the event. The Wessex Archaeology stand gave young people the opportunity to explore geoarchaeology and, in keeping with the venue, archaeology that makes a bang. Finds on show included hand grenades, shells, cannon balls, musket balls and burned flint from recent investigations. 

The team also demonstrated virtual reality and 3D printed artefacts including a 3D print of a graffitied chalk from excavations at Larkhill, the largest archaeological investigation of WW1 training trenches undertaken on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) as part of the Army Basing Programme. These demonstrated the variety of skills required along the process of an archaeological project, from assessment to photogrammetry and 3D modelling. 

Also taken were finds from Llangibby Castle in Wales, including pistol shot, unfired and fired, dating back to the English Civil War and one of the earliest examples of a hand grenade (which was likened to ‘something out of a Looney Tunes show’ by several children). 

In total, the event welcomed over 1,600 children from 30 schools across Dorset and Wiltshire. The team delivered talks and demonstrations, and guided visitors through our Virtual Reality experience within a Neolithic House in Skara Brae using an Oculus Rift headset – which proved particularly popular. 

We will be attending six further STEM Festivals in 2019, organised by Big Bang, with the aim of educating the public in science, the arts, heritage and culture through the archaeological services we deliver. 

Samuel Fieldhouse, Community & Education Manager