IBM's Blue Fusion event inspires students as part of National Science and Engineering Week

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HURSLEY, U.K. - 11 Mar 2011: More than 450 students from 80 schools across the South of England will be celebrating National Science and Engineering Week at IBM's 16th annual Blue Fusion event. The students will need to use quick thinking, scientific knowledge and teamwork in a number of fun activities, designed to inspire and encourage young people to develop their interest in Science, Technology and Engineering.

“Communication” is the theme for National Science and Engineering Week 2011 and volunteers from IBM Hursley, Europe’s largest software development lab, have put together a wealth of fun, inspiring and engaging activities.

Each day, teams from 16 schools will participate in a variety of specially-designed activities promoting innovation, teamwork, problem solving and communication skills. Students solve puzzles and technological challenges that explore basic concepts in some of the most interesting areas of modern technology. The activities will include building network communications to cracking codes to designing an ecologically friendly house. The students will experience first hand how science benefits our everyday lives and how instrumented, interconnected and intelligent technology can help build a smarter planet.

Approximately 200 IBM employees volunteer their time and experience to Blue Fusion, many of whom are recent graduates who can share their passion and experience of working in the industry with the next generation. Local dignitaries will be attending the event throughout the week to see the impact and success of Blue Fusion in inspiring young people into Science, Technology and Engineering.

A description of the activities and supporting information is included in the appended note to editor.

Notes to editor:

- Bright Sparks, on Friday 11th March is for Year 8 students, aged 12-13.

- Blue Fusion, from Monday 14th - Thursday 17th March is for Year 10-11 students aged 14-16.

- 2011 is the 16th year of IBM Hursley's popular Blue Fusion event.

- If you would like to speak to someone from the organising team, please contact John Galvez – or +44 (0)7734 104275

The Activities (all newly developed for Blue Fusion 2011):

Communication for the Nations is an activity in which students have to create and maintain communication links between different cities across the world. As well as learning a little about network communications, students will begin to appreciate the challenges of providing a quality service within a set budget.

Rocket Race requires the students to take on the role of secret agents in order to follow clues and crack codes within limited time frames. The teams will need to keep their cool under pressure and will need to adapt and change their direction as they progress through the activity.

How Green Is Your House? This activity requires a sub-team of planners and a sub-team of builders to communicate effectively using good negotiation skills in order to design and build an ecologically friendly house. The students will need to balance the various ecological advantages of using different materials with the different pricing implications associated with each material.

Lever Fever requires each team to work closely together as they try to complete a number of different challenges by each taking one of six control levers. Tasks range from making a specified body shape, balancing a see-saw and saving football penalties. This activity aims to demonstrate how individual actions can impact others and also the importance of working collaboratively.

Blind Maze is a cooperative puzzle game. Students will need to navigate increasingly complex mazes using custom made tilt sensor controllers. The added challenge is that those using the controllers are unable to see the map and must therefore rely on navigators within their team to guide them. Teams will have to work well together and develop clear communication in order to succeed in this activity.

Hot Lava is based on the premise that a small island is under threat from erupting volcanoes. Each team must complete a series of tasks in order to gain the equipment needed to prevent danger from the volcanoes. This task will highlight the importance of working effectively as a team in order to complete tasks in a set time frame.

Jump On It is an energetic activity in which the students must decipher various riddles in order to solve given problems, all by using a dance mat. There are three mini-games involved, as well as the overall puzzle. The students will need to think about how best to tackle each challenge they are given and each member will have a crucial role to play if the team is to succeed.

Firewall requires each team to try and save a business from malicious hackers by building a firewall. This activity introduces the students to the concept of data packets, which are presented as different colour-coded shapes in the activity. Each team will need to set up rules based on these shapes and colours so that bad data packets are prevented from getting through the firewall whilst safe data packets can still be processed. This activity will teach the students to build up basic logic rules to solve a problem.

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