STEM Challenge 2019: Shropshire teachers and mentors get to grips with state-of-the-art facilities
School teachers and business mentors have been shown the ropes in 3D printing, future robotics and classic car restorations as part of the Shropshire Star's 2019 STEM Challenge.
Tutors from the Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology and Classic Motor Cars in Bridgnorth were on hand to give demonstrations showing the state-of-the-art technology participants now have at their disposal.
The event was organised for teachers and mentors who are supporting school pupils competing in the challenge which has been launched by the MNA, publisher of the Shropshire Star, to promote the importance of the key Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects, while creating key links between schools and the design industry.
They have been issued the challenge to design and manufacture a product that has a positive benefit to an individual/group and the environment, or just the environment.
The teams of six pupils from a range of Shropshire schools will then need to demonstrate their product as a working model at a presentation on July 4, 2019 at the Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology, the associate sponsor hosting the event.
Teachers were joined by their partnered business mentors and given two tours of the futuristic facilities at the technology centre in Bridgnorth, along with an inside look into the garages at Classic Motor Cars.
Among the schools taking part is Madeley Academy, in Telford, which has been partnered with the Telford based household product design company, Cedo.
Science teacher, Dr Christothea Constandinou-Williams, said: "Our set of students have already conducted thorough research and are on track with the idea they want to go forward with.
"I'm not sure how much I should say at this point as of course it's very top secret, but we're looking at a design that extracts rubbish out of water that can be used to benefit people or an individual.
"It's been fantastic to see a set of students that would never usually talk to each other put their heads together. It's a great team building event which has already proven to build bridges between students and business, as well as the pupils themselves.
"This is our second year taking part in the STEM challenge – last year we won the Best Team award, so we're going for a similar achievement this year and I'm already so excited to see how it turns out."
Martin Burdekin, commercial director at Cedo, said: "Some of the ideas the team have are very innovate and they've honed in on one idea now, which at this point in the challenge is perfect.
"You can draw parallels to how us as a business would launch a product and how the school's team have started developing theirs which is incredibly interesting and encouraging to see.
"It's all totally their ideas, but perhaps as a little older and wiser we can help them shape it going forward – it's been a real interesting experience so far."
Laura Douglas, HR Manager at Cedo, said the company has already engaged with the students on multiple occasions.
"We've had a lot of interaction with the school already and been down there twice to see how they're getting on," she added.
"It's great to see how brilliant the facilities here are and the children are so enthused and energised. I'm looking forward to being able to see it all through."
There are seven team prizes to be won including: Best Work Plan, sponsored by EPSON; Best Presentation, sponsored by Avara Foods; Best Team Work, sponsored by Telford & Wrekin Council; Best Operating Model, sponsored by Protolabs; Best Entrepreneurial Team, sponsored by Ironbridge Gorge Museums; and Business Champion, sponsored by Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance.
There will also be a Mentor Recognition Award, sponsored by The Careers and Enterprise Company as well as an award for the overall winner, judged by the headline sponsor, DENSO.