Our STEM Challenge teams have ended their 6-week project with a trip to a leading engineering company, Pearson Engineering of the REECE group, based at Armstrong Works on Scotswood Road.
Children from Atkinson Road Primary, Westgate Hill Primary and Rainbird Primary (Friday 8th December) and Walkergate Community, Hotspur Primary and Central Walker (Friday 15th December) had the opportunity to visit and explore the engineering site and meet those who work there.
Across the 6-week project, young people worked through their own engineering problem: how are aeroplane wings designed so the plane can fly the furthest whilst carrying weight? After many investigations and flight tests, we found the best plane wing shape and built a final plane model.
During our trip, we found out all about the work that goes on at the REECE factory and find out about what an engineer gets up to as part of their job. We learnt that on a daily basis, the REECE engineers come across many of the same problems and challenges that our group encountered in their own projects. The children got to share ideas about how to work through these challenges and identify the key things that people in STEM jobs need to consider when working on an engineering project.
After we all put on with bright blue High-Vis vests, safety glasses and ear plugs, we were ready to go onto the workshop floor on a tour of the factory. Whilst we walked around the factory, following a blue safety path, the children learnt about what different pieces of machinery are used for. Some machines could bend strong pieces of metal into different shapes, laser cutters could cut materials with incredible speed and precision, whilst massive cranes towered over us, able to move very heavy parts across the site.
The children’s favourite machine was unanimous – a water jet cutter. Able to cut through solid metal with only sand and water at a very high pressure, the children were fascinated and were able to touch some of the sand used to cut the metal – tonnes of which are used every week by the engineers in the factory. One of the pupils on the trip said ‘The water cutter was my favourite machine because I have never seen a water cutter before’.
After a very well-received piece of cake and some juice, children had the opportunity to ask those working in STEM jobs about everything they had seen throughout the day and what a career in engineering would be like. One pupil asked ‘How do electricity and technology work together to control the machines?’ Many of the children asked some very interesting and insightful questions, impressing both the engineers from REECE and the S4A staff, showing just how engaged the young people were on the trip and throughout the project.
This project was designed to be a practical challenge, encouraging young people to develop key Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths investigation skills. As part of completing the STEM Challenge, all children will receive an AQA Skills Award.
A huge thanks to the REECE group and Chris Freeburn & Amish Patel, the graduate engineers from Pearson Engineering who hosted our visit and were fantastic mentors for our budding engineers.