science made simple in Kazakhstan

 In partnership with our lovely friends at the British Council we’re honoured to have been selected to help develop a brand new national STEM competition for Kazakhstan.

In June this year SMS staff Wendy, Zoë and Becca hosted a visit from the Kazakhstan sponsors at Cheltenham Science Festival to discuss what the competition might look like and so that they could meet with other UK competition providers such as FameLab.

Later in the month Wendy visited Astana (the capital of Kazakhstan) to continue working on the logistics of the competition and meet partner organisations. She was particularly struck by the amazing architecture there, and the Schoolchildren’s Discovery Palace (a bit like our science centres) which was so huge it housed an ice rink, an international swimming pool, an athletics track and multiple tennis courts, as well as the more usual planetarium and science theatre(s!)

Wendy’s trip to Kazakhstan CC-BY science made simple

We had a swift learning curve as none of us knew much about Kazakh culture until we began this project. Here are 10 things that you may not have known about Kazakhstan!

  1. Kazakhstan is the largest land-locked country in the world (and ninth largest overall)
  2. The capital Astana is the second coldest city in the world (with winter temperatures of around -40 degrees)
  3. The world’s tallest chimney is in Kazakhstan (419m) and is dubbed ‘the cigarette lighter’ for its distinctive shape
  4. Astana also houses the world’s tallest tent (The Khan Shatyr) which is a giant shopping complex, including an indoor beach and dinosaurs!
  5. Kazakhstan is home to the world’s longest serving space launch facility called the Baikonur Cosmodrom which the Russians lease and use to launch their space missions.
  6. Astana (the country capital) literally means ‘Capital City’ in Kazakh
  7. UNESCO has voted Kazakhstan number one in the world education development index for providing universal primary education, maintaining a high level of adult literacy, and promoting gender parity
  8. People in Kazakhstan like their coffee sweet and 10 teaspoons is not unusual
  9. The two main languages spoken are Kazakh and Russian
  10. Kazakhstan is famous for its population of wild horses. It is believed that man first tamed and rode horses there.


The STEM competition is currently in development, we can’t wait to share the final results!


sms group shot with props smallWe are science made simple

 A social organisation which promotes science, maths and engineering in schools and to the public. You can find out more about what we do, book us live in action with one of our exciting shows, or sign up to our newsletter and find out what we’re up to!

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