STEM Club Start-Up ran from May 2018 to June 2019 and was the brain-child of Lorna Bennet, a mechanical engineer at ORE Catapult’s Glasgow office. Lorna’s purpose was to spark an interest in renewable energy amongst Scottish primary school children, providing inspiring lesson plans on the engineering adventure that lies at the heart of our industry’s success in Scotland.
She was able to secure funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering and in-kind support (over 260 hours of volunteering time with Scottish schools) from ORE Catapult. Lorna also recruited 24 STEM ambassadors from 14 different engineering and science backgrounds in the offshore renewables industry to run sessions at schools and events.
Lorna developed a series of lesson plans that could be used as one-off classroom challenges or part of a longer-standing STEM club arrangement. Practical experiments, demonstrations and presentations from a variety of engineers working on offshore renewables show the multitude of opportunities that a career in our industry can offer with ‘no limits’ encouragement to ambition and imagination.
One school student commented:
This was AWESOME – I want to be an engineer, scientist, astronomer and mathematician
The focus was on four primary schools characterised by low STEM learning attainment, high deprivation and having no STEM Ambassador activity. Weekly STEM clubs ran in two schools from September 2018 to June 2019 with others opting for month-long blocks each term or ongoing flexible classroom support. Challenges and contests focussed on explaining what renewable energy is, designing, building and testing different wind turbines and concepts in environmental engineering.
Through the clubs and national events such as STEM@TheHelix, the project reached 5,700 children, over 600 parents and 80 teachers. At the start of the project, just two of the school children had heard the term ‘engineer’; by the end, 100% said they enjoyed engineering, 80% said they had learnt an engineering skill and 66% said they want to learn more. Long-term engagement plans continue with all four schools.