Fascinated by space? Discover the Stevenage centre where you can meet Mars Rover prototype Bridget
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
A Stevenage discovery centre has officially opened its doors with a sell-out family event called Space Saturday.
The STEM Discovery Centre, based on the site of Airbus's ExoMars Rover project in Gunnels Wood Road, aims to bring to life the wonders of space through a range of interactive activities.
For the first time, Bridget, the original prototype of the ExoMars Rover, will be on display.
The STEM Discovery Centre - formerly known as the Airbus Foundation Discovery Space - is an education facility developed in partnership with North Hertfordshire College and Airbus which aims to inspire young people to consider a career in science, technology, engineering and maths.
Since the centre opened in May 2017, after receiving £1 million from the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership's Local Growth Fund, it has welcomed more than 1,500 visitors and hosted around 200 primary and secondary schools - and the new name marks the next phase in the centre's development.
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The team of STEM experts plan to widen the range of activities available, which will include new online learning resources funded by the UK Space Agency.
Employers from Stevenage's world-class science and engineering hub are also being encouraged to develop partnerships so they can share their knowledge and expertise in an educational setting.
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Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland said: "Here in Stevenage we are fortunate to have a globally significant cluster of science and engineering industries on our doorstep. If we are going to maintain our competitiveness over the long term, we need to build a successful skills pipeline and engage young people at an early age.
"That is why the work of the centre matters and I would urge STEM-related employers in Stevenage to look at how they can support this fantastic enterprise and help develop the next generation of talent."
Centre manager Michelle Fearn added: "We are immensely proud of what we have achieved over the past 2½ years. We are one of the few dedicated STEM educational centres in the country and offer an imaginative, inspiring programme of events which has garnered brilliant feedback from the schools who have visited us.
"We're so excited as we embark on the next phase of our journey, and look to build our reputation as one of the best STEM education centres in the UK."