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Abingdon ATOM Festival of Science and Technology

An annual festival of science and technology is held in the town of Abingdon-on-Thames in March of each year. There are a large number of events, some taking place in Abingdon School’s Amey Theatre and the Yang Science Centre.

Aims

The advancement of education by promoting interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, amongst children of all ages and the general public, without any distinction, in the Parish of Abingdon and surrounding area. Such promotion to be carried out by supporting local schools and colleges in their provision of STEM subjects, on a non-remunerative basis. 

Background

The ATOM Festival was started in 2014 by a small group of local enthusiasts who organised a series of lectures by distinguished scientists at various venues in the town. As the Festival has grown in popularity, a larger team of local people involved in business, science and education has developed the Festival into a ten day series of  diverse events. These include a Science Market in the town square, a Primary Science Fair and a Family Science Fair, as well as more traditional lectures and discussion forums.

Resources

Abingdon School’s Science Partnership Co-ordinator and the Graduate Assistant both serve on the Festival committee, contributing to organisation of events particularly for schools, families and young people. The school makes its 430 seat Amey Theatre available free of rental charges for events held there. The day long Family Science Fair is held in the School’s Yang Science Centre, fully supported by the School’s science department, particularly the technician team.

Impact

Several events at the Festival are free of charge and purposely aimed at the ‘accidental audience’ who would not choose to go to a science festival. However, the free Science Market attracts Saturday visitors to the town centre and the Sunday Family Science Fair had attendance of nearly 500 parents and children in 2018. Ticketted lecture attendances have been in the hundreds for popular speakers such as Jim Al-Khalili and Marcus du Sautoy in previous years. Up to ten primary schools participate in the Primary Science Fair, sending large numbers of their pupils to visit the exhibits. Several of the secondary schools in the area host at least one event during the Festival.

Frequency

This is an ongoing project which occurs annually in Abingdon