Harvey Duffin and Andy Muinzer, Year 9 students from Wellington College Belfast have secured a place as finalists in the National Science + Engineering Competition 2016.

Their project ‘Adventures in Backgarden Astronomy’ qualified as a regional finalist at the Young Innovators event in June,

The National Science + Engineering Competition, organised by the British Science Association, is an annual contest open to pupils aged between 11-18, and gives participants the chance to compete for top prizes and international experiences worth over £50,000.

The 2016 winners will be announced at the National Awards Ceremony as part of the annual Big Bang Fair at the NEC in Birmingham, which inspires young people to consider a career in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). The event, aimed primarily at 11-14 year old children and their parents, will take place from 16 to 19 March 2016.

Young visitors to the Fair will enjoy high-octane theatre shows, over 150 interactive stands and workshops as well as access to careers information, resources and activities. The Fair offers experiences in virtual reality, medicine, marine biology, film and TV, space exploration, explosive chemistry, crime-solving, robots, computer coding, microscopic bugs, giant trucks and more.

Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK which organises The Big Bang Fair congratulated Andy and Harvey on their finalist nomination:

“Being part of the National Science + Engineering Competition national finals is an exceptional achievement for young inventors, scientists and engineers. The judging panel will have a tough decision in selecting the winners at The Big Bang Fair in March.”

Winner of UK the Young Scientist of the Year 2015 title, Sarah Sobka, said:

“It was a total honour to have won the award last year. Being at The Big Bang Fair and meeting so many inspirational other young people, such as Colum McNally who took the UK Young Engineer of the Year title, was the highlight of my year. As many young people as possible should have the opportunity to attend The Big Bang Fair to see how exciting science and engineering can be and I wish all this year’s finalists good luck.”

Previous winners of the award include young people who have since gone on to be the youngest ever entrepreneurs to appear on BBC’s Dragon’s Den and feature in the Sport England #LikeAGirl campaign.

Imran Khan, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, which runs the National Science + Engineering Competition, commented:

“I am so pleased to see that Andy and Harvey have made it through to the finals of the National Science + Engineering Competition. Their work has already impressed the regional judges, and I wish them the best of luck for the final at the Big Bang Fair in March.

“The standard of work from the finalists this year has been incredibly high, and it is so inspiring to see such creative and thought-provoking projects from the young people who enter the Competition. It is fantastic to see these young scientists and engineers go on and become advocates for science, both in the sector and beyond.”

Free tickets to The Big Bang Fair are available now at www.thebigbangfair.co.uk