This very busy week kicked-off with the latest of our ‘Engineering Taster Days’, held at Colchester Institute’s exciting new STEM Innovation Centre in Braintree. We’d worked closely with the team at CI to plan a day full of interactive workshops, an employer marketplace and talks from current Apprentices about what it’s like to study engineering, all with a view to helping students gain a better understanding of future opportunities within the engineering sector.
After a short opening presentation, putting the day into context, students were split into smaller groups and then rotated around the activities. Mike and Jack from Learn by Design led workshops on wind turbines and making an interactive poster, using – amongst other things – conducive ink. Shane and his team at Colchester Institute got students to design a school logo, with the winners from each group seeing their designs made into reality thanks to the STEM Centre’s fantastic engineering equipment. And we were particularly delighted to have representatives of Maycast Nokes, RDC, Braintree Precision Components and Transporter - local engineering firms - exhibiting in a marketplace session throughout the day, running interactive stands and answering questions from gathered students and teaching staff. There were prizes on offer to students asking the best questions of exhibitors and to those who could complete engineering-related challenges set at each station.
Despite such large numbers of students on-site the event was managed excellently by Colchester Institute staff, meaning pupils had an interesting and enjoyable day. One of the objectives of the event was to showcase the fantastic learning facilities on offer in Essex. Holding the event in the new STEM Innovation Centre and allowing students use of some of the equipment on-site allowed us to do so. The success of the Taster Day was reflected in the fact that 96% of student surveys gathered showed that students felt that they had gained a better understanding of the Engineering sector thanks to coming along!
Colchester Institute and the engineering employers had clearly done a particularly fantastic job as an amazing 72% of respondents said that they were more interested in a career in the engineering sector thanks to coming along than they had been before attending! Further evidence of success was to be found in students’ responses to the question ‘If there’s one thing I’ve learned today it’s that…’. ‘The engineering industry is a lot wider than I thought’, ‘I want to do an Apprenticeship in engineering’ and ‘There are a lot of jobs and Apprenticeships in engineering’ were just some of the answers given.
We also heard from the Careers Guidance Lead for one of the schools that attended on the day who wrote as follows:
Thirty Seven Year 8 students participated in this trip. Before they went they weren’t overly enthusiastic as they weren’t all that sure about what a visit to a STEM Centre would be. This trip has however opened many of our student’s eyes to the possibility of a STEM based career. The students especially enjoyed talking to the employers and finding out about the opportunities within this sector which of course are endless and the graphic design part where 3 of our students designed the school logo – a griffin, and then had it cut out in metal.
When they came back to school they were very proud of what they had achieved and went to the main reception to show the Head teacher who was suitably impressed. It should be noted that these three students are not the most academic but have had their eyes opened as to what they can do and achieve through this day’.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved – to the team at Colchester Institute for agreeing to host the Taster Day, for all their work in advance of the event and on the day itself, to Maycast Nokes, RDC, Braintree Precision Components and Transporter for the amazing job they did in helping to sell the sector as an exciting career choice, to Braintree District Council (particularly Leanda Cable) for coming along to help out and of course to staff and students from all of the schools that attended. We look forward to working with many of the same students in years to come as part of the wider ESB Education and Industry STEM Programme.