Imperial College London

Green city sparks imagination of young festival-goers


Children looking at model city

From pedal power to magnetic trains, young visitors to the Great Exhibition Road Festival were brimming with ideas for powering low-carbon cities.

The Festival, a free celebration of science and the arts held annually in South Kensington, attracted tens of thousands of visitors from 18-19 June 2022.

Energy Futures Lab teamed up with the Imperial College Energy Society to participate in Future Explorers, an event hosted by the Science Museum offering attendees the opportunity to meet ‘Future Experts’ and learn about the energy systems of tomorrow.

These children are not just curious about how things work but are also concerned about the environmental impact of these technologies. Chanwith Buntoengpesuchsakul Student, MSc Sustainable Energy Futures

A team of volunteers, including students, researchers and institute staff, demonstrated ‘Wattown’ – an interactive model of a city powered by renewable energy, as well as a 3D-printed floating offshore wind platform constructed by Energy Society members.

Younger visitors were invited to become Mayor of Wattown and were asked for their proposals to improve the lives its inhabitants and reduce the city’s environmental impact.

Ideas included everything from planting trees and building more wind turbines, to harnessing the power of human movement and lighting the city using electricity generated by solar panels in space.  

A unique experience

Dr Maria Sokolikova, a Research Associate from the Mattevi Group who volunteered with the Energy Futures Lab team, described the event as a “unique and welcoming platform” to engage with the public about energy research:

“Signing up to volunteer at the Festival, I mostly wanted to have a chance to converse with a broader audience, outside of my comfortable bubble of university friends and family, to hear what they think about and what they expect of renewable energy.”

Volunteers speaking to visitors to the Great Exhibition Road Festival
Volunteers Dr Semra Bakkaloglu, Dr Phil Clemow and Dr Maria Sokolikova speaking to ‘Future Explorers’ at the Great Exhibition Road Festival

Maria said she was impressed by the genuine interest of visitors in science and their enthusiasm for renewable energy.

“It was truly amazing to meet families, for some of whom English perhaps wasn’t their first language, and seeing parents translating whatever the volunteers were explaining to their children and the other way around, seeing teenagers helping their parents to communicate with the demonstrators.”

Chanwith Buntoengpesuchsakul, a student on Energy Futures Lab’s MSc in Sustainable Energy Futures, was also impressed by the interest of younger visitors and their knowledge of solar and wind power.

“These children are not just curious about how things work but are also concerned about the environmental impact of these new technologies,” he said.

Thank you to all our volunteers for sharing your passion for science and engineering over the course of the weekend and to everyone who visited our stand at the Festival!


Conor McNally

Conor McNally
Faculty of Engineering


Great-Exhibition-Road-Festival, Energy, Sustainability, Public-engagement, Strategy-share-the-wonder, Climate-change
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