Accessibility links

The Big Idea: to develop creative free spaces for young people to be inspired and educated by science, technology, engineering and maths.  

3-2-1-Ignition* is a new type of shop.  Not one where you go to buy things from but one that you go to acquire knowledge, inspiration and enjoyment. Led by Rick Hall FRSA and Ignite!  a science pop up shop was created to enhance curiosity amongst the people of Nottingham.  Although Nottingham has been designated a ‘Science City’, research showed Rick that young people and their parents did not see science, technology, engineering and maths as careers paths for the future. (STEM for short; just like the RSA it’s a bit of a mouthful). 

I first met Rick Hall briefly at the East Midlands Annual Conference before I was an RSA staff member, talk about keen!  We did not meet again until I popped into the shop prior to its grand opening.  Rick was conducting an evaluation with the design and build volunteers.  He was full of energy and enthusiasm and could not wait to open the shop.  It wasn’t long before I was helping try to solve the mystery of the multiple light switches.  Rick is a writer and consultant in the arts, education, creativity and youth sectors.  He has a passion for developing partnerships that promote creativity and learning for young people.  Through Rick’s hard work at Ignite! 25 organisations gave their support to 3-2-1-Ignition* Rick also persuaded a panel of Fellows that 3-2-1-Ignition* was also worth support from the Catalyst scheme which helped to make the project a reality.  Critical to its success was the work of a wide range of volunteers.  Students from Nottingham Trent University helped design and curate the shop in just 8 days turning it from an empty shell into a wonderful den of curiosity.  You can watch the transformation of the shop via a selection of videos by Hasmita Chavada.  Volunteers also spent time on the streets of Nottingham doing stints of science busking where they played drying racks and made marmite turn white!  Young people who run Lab_13’s in their schools also came to use the space and inspire others.  By partnering with Nottingham Hackspace the shop attracted 250 young people who soldered, drilled, made and even got to play Pong powered by a bicycle.  There were also opportunities to connect to the British Geological Survey and the Royal Society of Chemistry - the list goes on.

Over 3300 people visited the 3-2-1-Ignition* and didn’t pay a penny to do so.  100% of young people surveyed asked for the shop to remain open longer.  Not willing to disappoint the public they listened to their audience and stayed open for a further 2 weeks meaning the shop was open for 27 days.  Its aim was to inspire, teach and entertain people from all walks of life about STEM and to show young people that you can go into STEM careers and be creative.

Next Steps

Following from 3-2-1-Ignition* in the Broadmarsh shopping centre in Nottingham the team had to decide what to do next.  They have produced an evaluation of the project that will tell you all about the activities, projects and partners but more importantly they are moving ahead spurred on by comments from participants who said ‘It’s the funnest place on earth’ ‘I was enthused and enthralled to see how much my grandchildren, boys aged 8 + 11, responded to interactive displays, They loved it all.’  They will be taking the concept south of the Watford Gap to the Barbican’s Festival of Neurosciences Weekender and the Wonders Street Fair on the 2 - 3 March & 7 - 9 April.  Go take a look and ‘tempt your curiosity and your mind to do some making. There’ll be jars to peer at and sniff, thoughts to create and space to ask the brain-related questions you’ve always wanted to know’.  It’s all about doing, touching and getting involved.

How Can You Help?

Rick and Ignite! have also been busy exploring how Ignite! can develop the 3-2-1-Ignition* model further.  As Rick says they have a ‘proof of concept for programmes like Lab_13 and the 3-2-1-Ignition* pop up shop, but lack the resources and know how to convert these successes to wider adoption.’  Is this something you can help with?  The one-off travelling sparks of 3-2-1-Ignition* will be tested at the Barbican events but they won’t be able to attract such an audience and will not reach as wide a demographic as they did in the Broadmarsh.  They are considering setting up a 3-2-1-Ignition* Hub in Nottingham and could use  similar  models used by Pirate Supply Store of 826 Valencia a US creative writing project and Hoxton Street Monster Supplies that supports the Ministry of Stories. One of Rick’s grand plans is to support Leeds to be free of NEET (Not in education, employment or training) young people by 2020, an idea that can only be done in collaboration.

One thing is for sure Rick will be busy making plans and talking to people so if you are interested in this agenda and think you could help please be in touch.  You can contact Rick at: or follow him on twitter where he is @Rick_Hall


Be the first to write a comment

Please login to post a comment or reply.

Don't have an account? Click here to register.