STEM Professionals Inspire at Local Primary STEM Gathering

Leighton Park School were delighted to host the second ‘Big Bang Interactive’ yesterday, Tuesday 13th March, following the success of last year’s inaugural event.

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As a key member of the Leighton Park STEM hub Bion were proud to again be active in bringing STEM to a wider primary age audience. In collaboration with EEF Bion delivered the Lego kanban factory game and our two new STEM Ambassadors were there to try to bring order from Chaos during the 3 sessions we ran during the morning event. We would also like to thank those whose generous donations enabled us to donate STEM related prizes so that each school would return armed with the necessary equipment and information to enable them to make sure the enthusiasm from the day remains. Bion would therefore like to thank (in no particular order) EEF, Tata Steel, Enhanced Computers, Fortis recruitment, Magal Engineering and Wilson Tools.

For one of our STEM Ambassadors this was his first experience of supporting such an activity and was a learning curve for him as well. Below he has summarised how something as simplistic as the Lego game (delivered by EEF) can be used to bring about productivity improvements.

The event on the whole was very interesting and entertaining. The Lego experiment we helped with – aimed at teaching children about manufacturing – was great to see. It demonstrated how a complex issue could be resolved so simply with a Lego model. As they became more engaged the children got more and more invested in the activities they were participating in and utilising the Lego provided an effective foundation for the kids to work from, even if initially the task was designed to fail. After the brief descent in to chaos they soon learned that this current process route and set up was not as effective as it could be and were keen to give ideas on why.

Once the production line was reset to be more efficient, they understood how you could strengthen the current process route and streamline production of the Lego unit and turn the current 10-15 minute lead time on 1 order to a 30second lead time. This short exercise gave them a bit of an insight in to the manufacturing world and some issues that they may face in the manufacturing industry, ultimately highlighting different ways of solving these problems using Kanban and Lean. This was such an effective way of getting children involved in STEM and helping them learn simple methods of incredibly productive manufacturing techniques. As they all enjoyed it very much I hope this will get them just as interested in pursuing engineering careers as they get older. Jack Rae – STEM Ambassador Bion.

Karen Gracie-Langrick, Deputy Head (Academic), who masterminded the event with the enthusiastic Leighton Park STEM Hub group, commented, “As part of British Science Week, a ten-day celebration of STEM, the Big Bang Interactive is our largest STEM event to date. Like so many of our other engaging activities and events this forms part of Leighton Park School’s vision to become a STEM Centre of Excellence by 2021. As a school, we are keen to involve students, teachers and industry experts across Berkshire and beyond in creating an interactive and fun STEM experience. Today has been a great success, enabling students to foster new skills and enhance their curiosity in STEM related subjects.

Delivered by STEM professionals from organisations that recognise the value of education in nurturing the next generation of scientists, the workshops were run by companies including Cisco, Bion, Pfizer, Intel and Volume AI as well as higher education researchers such as the Biological Sciences team and RSSL (Reading Scientific Services Ltd) at the University of Reading. Engineering UK and the Institute of Engineering Technology (IET) also added their expertise to the gathering sharing insights and opportunities for future engineers through interactive games.

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The teachers from the attending schools were equally enthusiastic about the morning;

This was excellent” commented Dan Cook, teacher at Whitley Park Primary, “It is something that we find very difficult to do in a primary school.

There were a huge variety of STEM activities” added Claire Logan from Farley Hill Primary, “Wonderful resources. We would love more contact for our Year 5s and 6s.

Helen Williams, from Dolphin School, enjoyed it so much that she would like her students to have stayed for a full day! “Superb! A great range and all the children could be involved regardless of ability.

Reviewing the workshops, Shazia Lone from Alfred Sutton Primary School, enthused, “They really engaged the pupils and demonstrated good problem based learning. They were experiences I am sure they will remember.