Scientists from far and wide gathered to show off their most exciting inventions and experiments at this year’s Big Bang Science Fair in Birmingham.

The organisers, EngineeringUK, are trying to get more children involved in science and consider STEM subjects for further study or even a career.

So we muddled through the crowds of schoolkids, occasionally pushing in front of them for a go on the experiments, to bring you the most exciting finds from the day.

1. This levitating train set

Boffins from the University of Warwick brought along their levitating train set, made possible by superconductors.

The trains were powered by a ceramic button, which when cooled with liquid nitrogen starts showing superconducting properties. That means it can zip around a metal track with no need for a power source.

When the “trains” are flipped over, they can still whizz along the track, but without actually touching it.

Mind. Blown.

2. An interactive robot orchestra

Magician Steve Summers from Noisy Toys made an interactive musical installation using simple circuits and computer fans.

The fans flick the strings of the piano and violin strings making for an oddly composed, if mechanical, performance.

3. One of the robots from Robot Wars

And in real life, it (he?) is huge.

Sir Killalot has changed a lot since the golden era of Robot Wars, but it was still a massive throwback.

[Read more: Wacky British inventions that failed]

4. This ejector seat and floating tent

When you push the button on an MK10 Tornado ejection seat, part of your survival pack includes this tiny floating tent.

It contains enough supplies for 10 days at sea, including a fishing kit, seasickness pills and a candle that can be eaten in emergencies.

Desperate times call for edible candles.

5. These mind-controlled cars

This race track used alpha waves, the ones your brain pumps out when you’re totally relaxed or meditating, to power a car round a track.

As hard as we tried, we just couldn’t calm down enough to produce any, so one of the more zen demonstrators had to show us how it was done.

6. This drone assault course

BAE systems was running a drone test, where you had to try and get it to land on the right pedestals and fly through hoops to get points.

It was a lot harder than it sounds.

7. This crime scene

crime scene (Grace Rahman/PA)
(Grace Rahman/PA)


Run by a former detective, the company behind it goes round schools and workplaces running workshops where people work out what happened at a mocked up crime scene. It’s basically a gory, vaguely educational murder mystery party.

And for the kids attending, it wasn’t just mucking about and a day off school. Well it was, but there’s also a science project competition judged by a celebrity panel including the Gadget Show’s Jason Bradbury and Andrew Smyth from the Great British Bake Off, who’s a Rolls Royce engineer.

Paul Jackson, chief executive of EngineeringUK, said: “This year’s entries to The Big Bang Competition highlight how talented the UK’s young scientists and engineers are.”

Read more: 8 British inventions that changed the world