Cambridge LaunchPad inspires engineers of the future at the new A14 and visit Mott MacDonald
Pupils from Cambridge primary schools get hands-on at the £1.5billion road upgrade
Pupils from primary schools in Cambridge got hands-on with STEM activities at the A14 and attended engineering experience with Mott MacDonald as part of Cambridge LaunchPad.
Last Wednesday (January 24) Year 6 students from Cherry Hinton C of E Primary and Teversham C of E Primary attended a Cambridge LaunchPad STEM outreach activity day at Mott MacDonald’s offices in Station Road.
The theme of the day was designing durable structures in extreme environments, and the activities on the day included: building a windproof and waterproof building around a teddy bear, testing water filtration through steep, wooded or built-up landscapes, and making crossbeams out of chocolate and rice crispies.
Katie Whitmore, Year 6 teacher at Teversham, said: “It was a great opportunity for the children to work together.
“They had to think outside the box and solve problems. It helped them to realise that engineering really is all around them.”
The Cambridge LaunchPad programme, supported by the Cambridge Independent, encourages young people to consider subjects and careers in science, technology, engineering and maths, and aims to address the gender imbalance in those fields. By introducing students to business volunteers who are passionate about their careers and inspiring role models that break gender stereotypes, students see that industries, like construction, can be accessible to them.
Paula Hnat, Year 6 teacher at Cherry Hinton, said: “A career in engineering is in reach for our pupils, and it’s been so encouraging for them to meet and work with so many female engineers.”
Azu Hatch, mechanical services building engineer at Mott MacDonald, added: “The company love that we have everyday opportunities to be ambassadors and inspire our future engineers. The energy and freshness that the children bring inspires us too.”
Anna Aldred, STEM outreach and Cambridge LaunchPad project manager from Form the Future CIC, said: “The interactive and hands-on activities allowed each and every student to let their curiosity, delight and individuality shine through.”
The first Cambridge LaunchPad event of 2018 was held on January 23, at the A14 Cambridge-Huntingdon site. Year 5 students at Cherry Hinton C of E Primary were joined by young people from the Cambridgeshire Home Educating Families and volunteers from the A14 Integrated Delivery Team and Highways England for a fun-packed day.
The students were challenged to a range of tasks, from uncovering archaeological artefacts and identifying protected species of animals that may be found around the construction site, to planning and future-proofing a city and using aggregates to build roads. They were also treated to demonstrations of the technology and equipment used in various stages of the project, including VR goggles for 360 degree visualisation, drones for mapping the land from above and the different types of plant on-site.
Caroline Evans, a home-educating parent, said: “The children really enjoyed learning about the animals to look for before starting a construction project, how to future-proof a city and digging for artefacts in the archaeology activity. They also loved seeing how varied careers in construction and engineering can be and how to apply the things they’ve learnt in a real job.”
Sally Haiselden, deputy headteacher of Cherry Hinton C of E Primary School, said “The kids will never look at a road in the same way again!
“They’ve surveyed one, they’ve made one, they’ve crossed one, they’ve photographed one from the air and watching their faces, they’ve all been transfixed.”