Robotics are to be used to inspire young students’ passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, as part of a new initiative being trialled in Newmarket.
There is currently a national shortage of people with skills in STEM subjects which makes it difficult for employers to recruit the staff that they need. Part of the reason for that shortage may be the lack of opportunities for primary school students to experiment and develop their interest in science, technology and engineering.
Now West Suffolk Council has teamed up with BT Adastral Park’s Schools Outreach Programme and Newmarket Academy to develop the new primary school programme which it hopes will not only show students some of the exciting things that STEM subjects can be used for, but also create a legacy empowering primary schools to teach STEM subjects and inspire interest in the subjects from a much earlier age.
The initiative will see the BT Adastral Park Schools Outreach team train Newmarket Academy students, already interested in the STEM subjects, about computer science, using robotics kit funded by West Suffolk Council. Those students in turn will then help teach the subject to local primary schools using robotics to give the younger students and their teachers an introduction to coding and programming. This will also give Newmarket Academy students an excellent example of volunteering experience for their CVs.
The project is being funded by West Suffolk Council and Orbit Group and if successful, it could be rolled out to other parts of West Suffolk.
Julie Baird, assistant director for Growth at West Suffolk Council, said: “We are looking to create a legacy, developing that spark of passion in STEM subjects at an early age. Our hope is that by working with older students interested in STEM subjects that they can cultivate and inspire that same excitement in primary school children. Not only that, the project can also help empower teachers who may not be experts themselves in the computer sciences, allowing that knowledge and enthusiasm for these key subjects to continue to expand and develop for future years. In the longer term, we hope it will mean that more young people leaving education can take up these highly skilled, higher paid jobs, not only benefitting business growth in West Suffolk but also the local economy.”
Lisa Perkins, director of Adastral Park and Research Realisation at BT, said: “We are delighted to be working with West Suffolk Council and Newmarket Academy. As a company we’re committed to providing 10 million people across the UK with digital skills training by 2025, through our Skills for Tomorrow programme. Our own research shows that by demonstrating how STEM subjects can be fun, we can help get primary school youngsters interested and thinking about these subjects from a much earlier age. That in turn means that more students are likely to continue studying these subjects are a higher level and take up STEM related jobs when they leave education.”
Helen Harridge, teacher of science at Newmarket Academy, said: “We pride ourselves on working to benefit the education not just of the students we have in the Academy now, but those that may eventually come here from our local primary schools. As well as benefitting the study of STEM subjects, this also presents a wonderful opportunity for some of our students to mentor younger pupils, which contributes not just to their confidence and the educational success of the school but also to the Academy’s culture, of students that care and look out for others. That’s why I’m delighted that the Academy is part of this initiative which I’m sure will be a big success.”
Pictured above are students from Newmarket Academy with some of the robotics.