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Great Exhibition of the North schools' programme unveiled

Posted on Monday 5 February 2018
MR pic - Little Inventors North 2030 challenge at Great Exhibition of the North (2)

Little Inventors North 2030 challenge at Great Exhibition of the North

Children and young people across the UK will have the opportunity to take part in the biggest event in England this year, Great Exhibition of the North, following the launch of a dedicated schools’ programme that celebrates the North of England.

From volunteering and school visits to creative competitions and classroom resources, the Great Exhibition of the North schools’ programme is designed to give children and young people in England and Wales the chance to celebrate the North in 2018 and experience this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Lucy Tetley, Schools and Young People Engagement Manager, at Great Exhibition of the North said: “We want to inspire the next generation of engineers, designers, innovators and inventors to explore the amazing opportunities on offer in the North of England.”

“The North is home to world-leading universities and innovative, cutting-edge businesses that are helping to shape our present and inspire our future. Great Exhibition of the North will showcase exciting ideas from across the North of England to inspire the next generation to pursue careers and opportunities across the region.”

The Great Exhibition of the North schools’ programme is supported by Reece Foundation (

Anne Reece Chair of the Reece Foundation said “We are thrilled that the Great Exhibition of the North will be celebrating the achievements of engineers and industry across the North of England. These are too often overlooked, and we are delighted to support the schools programme which is an integral part of the programme.”

A highlight of the schools’ programme is the Little Inventors North 2030 challenge, which gives children aged 4-12 in the North of England the chance to design their own inventions and have a team of makers, designers, artists and manufacturers bring it to life at Great Exhibition of the North.

The brainchild of artist, inventor and designer Dominic Wilcox, Little Inventors is a creative collaboration between the limitless imagination of children and the skills and expertise of adult and professional makers.

The Little Inventors North 2030 challenge at Great Exhibition of the North invites children to think about their world in the year 2030 and design an invention that matches their vision for the North. The top-rated designs will be made by a team of artists, designers and makers and exhibited at the Discovery Museum in NewcastleGateshead as part of Great Exhibition of the North. An online gallery will showcase all the submitted designs.

Dominic Wilcox, Founder and Chief Inventor of Little Inventors said: “We're really excited at Little Inventors to see what sort of inventive and visionary ideas about the future the children in the North of England have got in their brilliant minds. There's a long and proud history of invention and engineering up here and it's the young people who are the ones who will carry that on, working hard to make the world a better place through their creative and innovative thinking.

“We'll be looking for all types of invention during the Great Exhibition of the North, from the perfectly practical to the wonderfully bonkers. Maybe we'll be using some of the ideas that children come up with in 10 or 20 years. Technology moves so quickly nowadays that in the future, nothing is impossible.”

For more information and to submit a design, visit

A school visits programme will give children and young people the chance to visit Great Exhibition of the North in person. Six different itineraries, including four full-day experiences, will allow school groups to explore Great Exhibition of the North and the Exhibition Hubs at Great North Museum and Gateshead Quays. School visits are available from 25 June to 19 July and 3 to 7 September. For more information, visit

The Great Exhibition of the North volunteer programme is another opportunity for young people aged 16+ to take part in this special event. A team of 1,000 volunteers are being recruited to support the Great Exhibition and welcome visitors to NewcastleGateshead during the 80-day event. A chance to develop skills in organisation, communications and leadership, young people interested in finding out more about volunteering opportunities during Great Exhibition of the North should visit

A suite of free, online learning resources for early years and Key Stage 1, 2 and 3 will be available to download from giving every student in England and Wales the chance to interact with Great Exhibition of the North. The themed resource packs explore ideas and inventions celebrated in Great Exhibition of the North, including transport and travel, explorers, design, and innovation.

In addition to the lesson plans, an interactive online map will showcase different careers in the North of England. Designed to inspire children and young people about the employment and career opportunities available across the North, the 22 short videos will feature people from a range of backgrounds just starting out in their working career. Employees from organisations including the National Nuclear Laboratory, Nebula Labs and Wombat Creative will share details of their routes to work – everything from university and college to apprenticeships and work placements.

For more information about the Great Exhibition of the North schools’ programme, visit

Gateshead Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Gary Haley said: “Great Exhibition of the North’s dedicated schools’ programme is an amazing opportunity for children and young people to be truly inspired and gain a sense of pride about everything that is great about the North.  It will highlight the wealth of opportunities that are available on their doorstep to study and work in the region, providing an innovative and sustainable legacy for future generations.” 

Councillor Kim McGuinness, cabinet member for culture and communities at Newcastle City Council, said: “The Great Exhibition of the North is a fantastic opportunity to inspire young people. We want the exhibition to leave a lasting legacy. Providing opportunities for young people to get involved and experience the exhibition is a great way to do that. The exhibition themes of art and culture, innovation and design will see us looking at a bright future for the north. Our museums, cultural venues and the walking routes will be all about what’s great about the north. This is both exciting and educational. We hope this will give young people in the city and beyond a sense of pride and give them the space and inspiration to consider their skills and the opportunities available to them in the future.”

Great Exhibition of the North takes place from Friday 22 June to Sunday 9 September 2018. Three walking trails across NewcastleGateshead focusing on arts and culture, design and innovation will showcase exciting ideas from across Northern England.

The free, family-friendly exhibition will feature a stunning opening event that will see the unveiling of an 80m long water fountain in the River Tyne reaching the height of the Tyne Bridge. The dramatic display has been specially commissioned for the Great Exhibition of the North and showcases the collaboration between industry and art that runs through the entire programme. Inspired by The Angel of the North, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2018, three newly commissioned music compositions will provide a soundtrack to the water fountain and each one will be premiered on the evening of 22 June.

An arrival film – a key piece of programming for anyone visiting the exhibition – will have its world premiere as part of the ‘Get North’ opening event where it will be projected at large scale at the Quayside.

Renowned writer, poet and playwright Lemn Sissay will also unveil a specially commissioned anthem for the North.

Great Exhibition of the North will also feature a display of iconic Northern objects including John Lennon’s Record Plant piano and the spacesuit worn by the first Briton in space, Sheffield-born Helen Sharman.

Stephenson’s iconic Rocket will return to its birthplace in Newcastle upon Tyne and 2017 Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid will present an exhibition of new work at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

The Exhibition will also highlight the North’s strengths in key sectors, including digital, health innovation and energy, as well as profiling great Northern innovations such as Graphene, which was discovered by scientists working at the University of Manchester in 2004.

The full 80-day Great Exhibition of the North programme will be unveiled at the end of February.

The Great Exhibition of the North is expected to engage an audience of three million people and bring a £184 million boost to the North East, showing how cultural investment can benefit and inspire entire communities.

For more information