Dell Boomi supports young people at the STEM Big Bang Fair 2019

Dell Boomi at the Big Bang Fair South West 2019

We recently had the privilege of exhibiting at the Big Bang Fair South West here in Exeter, a national flagship event celebrating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers and opportunities.

In the last three years the programme has reached over 39,000 young people, with 6,000 visitors attending this event alone.

The event was open to primary, secondary and home schooled children, and included exhibits from Lego, the Ministry of Defence, Babcock, BAE Systems, the Environment Agency and many others. We were based in the ‘Digital, Tech and Creative’ zone.

The Dell Boomi interactive games stand. From left to right, introducing Tom, myself and Dale.

The birth of ‘energy flow’!

When it came to thinking of how to tailor our exhibit for the stand, we knew the most important thing was to ensure children would engage with the stand right from the beginning; my experience within education had taught me that the #1 priority for reaching young people was to spark their curiosity and interest in some way.

Without true engagement we would fail to make any meaningful impact on the young people visiting us.

As the theme of the day was the environment, we decided to build an interactive games system in Boomi Flow consisting of four mini-games based around different sources of clean energy. Children could play the games, learn about how clean energy could be generated, and also see how we had built and coded the games and system assets.

Luckily for us, the power of Boomi Flow lies in the speed and ease with which you can build and deploy mobile apps using a ‘low-code’ environment, and we soon had ‘energy flow’ ready to go, with games based on geothermal, solar, wind and hydroelectric energy. From a personal point of view it was great to see how quickly I could ‘skin’ the games and associated pages in Boomi Flow just by using some simple CSS and a few graphics.

Using a QR reader component in Boomi Flow, visitors to the stand would be able to use their mobile devices to play the games, although we also decided to take a tablet on a stand in case younger children wouldn’t have access to mobile devices on the day. This was to prove a very wise decision!

The actual Flow behind the ‘energy flow’ game system built using Boomi Flow’s powerful drag-and-drop interface

Successfully engaging young people

As the pictures below show, the day was a real success, with a great deal of engagement with the young people and adults who came to our stand. The most popular game by far was ‘Geothermal’, with children pounding away at the ‘PUMP!’ button with much more enthusiasm than we had anticipated, to the point where we became a bit concerned about whether the tablet could withstand the hammering that it was taking.

It was interesting to see how the children quickly went from using one finger to two fingers, and even trying to work together with multiple hands or turning the tablet round sideways— true scientific discovery in action!

From left to right: The Geothermal game, the Highscores dashboard screen and a girl in action hammering the ‘PUMP!’ button!

The impact of gamification upon piquing the interest of the children (and adults) was shown vividly by the attention that the Highscores dashboard was getting — children were desperate to see their name at the top of the leaderboard, helped by the lure of a Boomi fidget spinner on offer for those posting a new high score. One boy in particular kept coming back to the stand to check he was still top, and upon discovering he wasn’t would then frantically try and re-establish his position as the #1 Geothermal player.

It was fascinating to observe how an unofficial ‘boys vs girls’ aspect to the competition also emerged, as both groups tried to best each other at the games!

QR codes meant that visitors to the stand could use their mobile devices

We felt truly privileged to be able to interact with so many young people on the day, and enjoyed getting children to look behind the scenes of the game and see how it was built, although this was easier to do with the older children and adults at the stand. Young people and adults alike were impressed by the games and how they had been built within the Boomi Flow environment, and the sheer number of repeat visitors that we had to the stand was a testament to the usability and stability of the games.

Play the ‘energy flow’ games yourself at www.boomi.to/energyflow!

Young people enjoying the ‘energy flow’ games and learning about how they were built in Boomi Flow

Judging the Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Competition 2019

Dell Boomi also had the fantastic honor of being invited to join the awards judging panel for the South West regional heats of The Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Competition. Working alongside Anne Sutton from TDK Lambda, we judged four projects from four different schools:

  • An innovative new anti-bacterial material based upon the properties of shark skin,
  • a bio-environmental project looking at how to grow plants in conditions of minimal water,
  • an investigation into the carbon impact of natural and synthetic dyes,
  • and research into how to improve a horses bit for better comfort and control.

The candidates had worked hard on their projects, and it was a delight to see how inspired they were by the whole Big Bang Fair program. In a most exciting turn of events one of the candidates that we judged — Maiden Beech Academy — won! As a result their project will now go through to the national finals of the competition to be held at the Birmingham NEC in the UK.

Rick Timmis from Dell Boomi and Anne Sutton from TDK Lambda

So, what did we learn?

After an exhausting but exhilarating event, we were able to reflect on what a successful day it had been, both for us and Dell Boomi, but also (and more importantly) for the young people who had attended the event. The ‘energy flow’ games and interactive stand had been a HUGE hit with the children, and the flow system had withstood some pretty rigorous UAT (User Acceptance Testing) in a challenging environment that left little room for error.

We made a number of contacts with schools and academies in the region during the day, with a view to going out into the education community to try and pass on our knowledge and experience, whether through talking to young people about careers in IT, or even helping to teach programming skills in the classroom.

In today’s world, perhaps more than ever, it is vital to help get the next generations involved in thinking about and shaping their world through the application of science and technology, and all of us here at Dell Boomi feel privileged in being able to assist with this in some small way.

Roll on the Big Bang Fair 2020!

Just one more go at getting that elusive Dell Boomi fidget spinner!

About Dell Boomi

Boomi, an independent business unit of Dell, quickly and easily unites everything in your digital ecosystem so you can achieve better business outcomes, faster.

Boomi’s intelligent, flexible, scalable platform accelerates your business results by linking your data, systems, applications, processes and people. Harnessing the power of the cloud to unify everything inside and outside of a business, Boomi gives more than 8,200 organizations the agility to lead the future.

For more information, visit www.boomi.com.

© 2019 Boomi Inc. Dell, Boomi, and Dell Boomi are trademarks of Dell Inc., or its subsidiaries. Other names or marks may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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A space where Dell Boomi software engineers share their expertise and give insights into best working practice when using Dell Boomi to help companies accelerate business outcomes.

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Mark Sellings

Mark Sellings

Technical Writer @ Dell Boomi

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