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Cambridge Launchpad is giving sixth-formers STEM skills to help join the Dots


Cambridge sixth-formers got a taste of what it is like to be a technology consultant at an activity day at TTP Group in Melbourn.

Year 12 students from Hills Road Sixth Form College, Long Road Sixth Form College and Comberton Sixth Form were invited to apply for a day with TTP Group, a founding partner of Cambridge LaunchPad. Backed by the Cambridge Independent, the initiative encourages students to consider courses and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

TTP challenged the students to produce a short video analysing the ergonomics and usability of everyday life objects.

Successful applicants then attended the STEM outreach day last Wednesday (February 28), where they experienced what it is like to be a technology consultant and how the development of products and technology can change lives.

The students also worked together to brainstorm, create and refine prototypes for an innovative syringe design to be used in fat-grafting reconstructive surgery.

The six students that most impressed the volunteers with the quality of their project work and their teamwork, creativity and presentation skills were selected to attend the scholars’ prize trip that will take place in July, alongside Year 12 students from other schools and colleges that are taking part in Cambridge LaunchPad.

Ruby Barnard, who attends Comberton Sixth Form, said: “I was really excited to take part in Cambridge LaunchPad as I’m interested in science and I wanted to find out more about different STEM subjects.

“It was great to be able to get hands-on and build prototypes and find out more about the different types of career paths and job opportunities available in STEM.”

David Jones, head of science at Long Road Sixth Form College, added: “This will be an experience they will be able to build on in their career progression – whether they go into employment, undertake an apprenticeship or pursue a degree once they leave college.”

Also, on Wednesday, Year 12 students from colleges across Cambridgeshire attended the first Cambridge LaunchPad Scholars’ event of 2018, which is managed by Form the Future CIC.

Students travelled to the Amazon Development Centre at One Station Square, where they were introduced to the coding language Python and learnt how to build an Alexa skill.

The teams came up with a diverse range of Alexa skills, which they tested on their Echo Dots, such as a language translator, riddle game and holiday planner. The two winning teams were selected for outstanding teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills.

Finn Sutcliffe, a student from Hills Road Sixth Form College, said “I’m really interested in STEM, and Cambridge LaunchPad looked like a great opportunity to work with some interesting companies.

“The project day has been really insightful – I’ve learned about the processes that tech companies go through to develop products and a little bit about what it’s like to work for such an innovative company. I would definitely recommend the programme to other students – it’s been such a good experience.”

Anna Aldred, STEM outreach and Cambridge LaunchPad project manager from Form the Future CIC, said: “The opportunity to engage with LaunchPad is so valuable in itself, but for students to be given the opportunity to work with technology that they may have in their houses, and with such a household name like Amazon, makes the impact of LaunchPad so much greater.

“When a student is able to relate their learning to their everyday lives, it embeds the new knowledge and experiences to a much greater extent than when learning is presented out of context.”

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