Over the last years, Thales UK has been working with two charitable partners, Primary Engineer and The Smallpeice Trust, to deliver STEM outreach to school children across the UK. Both organisations are dedicated to a major challenge for our societies: engaging children and teachers to inspire the next generation to consider careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).
Inspiring pupils through class projects and training teachers with Primary Engineer
This partnership aims to sponsor the competition If I was an Engineer, which invites pupils from primary and secondary schools identify a problem in the world around them and propose an engineered solution. After submitting drawings and an accompanying letter to a panel of engineers, made up of Thales UK STEM Ambassadors and other sponsor companies, entries are graded and shortlisted. Regional winners are then invited to exhibition events to celebrate the innovation and creativity of students. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, live-streamed events have taken place online in 2020; it is hoped that a live event will be finally take place this summer.
In addition, for the last four years Thales UK has also partnered with Primary Engineer to deliver training to teachers in order for them to learn how to build kits cars with their students. As part of this training, Thales also supplies the school with enough kits for them to deliver the session with 30 of their students. This session allows to empower the teachers by upskilling them and partnering them up with a Thales UK STEM Ambassadors so they have the confidence to talk to their students about STEM. For the last academic year 20 Ambassadors worked with over 500 students across 15 schools close to the Thales sites in Cheadle and Belfast. This year this project is being repeated with new schools again in Belfast and for the first time in Glasgow as well.
Hands-on with The Smallpeice Trust to fuel young people’s passion for Engineering
For the last two years, another partnership has been developed with The Smallpeice Trust, a 50-year-old registered charity. In 2021, the collaboration continues to deliver hands-on workshops to five local schools in Belfast which will support 300 students; four of them will be awarded a full sponsorship from Thales to attend a STEM residential programme with their local university, ran by the Trust. In addition to these activities, which will be delivered virtually with practical resources sent in advance to the schools, Think Kits have been sent to 26 partner secondary schools in the UK benefiting 520 students. Each kit allows a class to build a motorised glider with the kit containing all the resources and the lesson plans for the teacher to facilitate this.
A virtual STEM event specifically for primary school students will also be delivered by The Smallpeice Trust and Thales UK STEM Ambassadors to 300 students in ten schools in the South West and East of England. These events will be a combination of discussions around STEM careers facilitated by the Ambassadors and a hands-on workshop using the Think Kits provided by the Trust.
The valuable input of Thales UK STEM Ambassadors for the two charities
The projects delivered in partnership with Primary Engineer and The Smallpeice Trust strongly rely on the role that Thales UK STEM Ambassadors play, not only bringing an event to life but also with their invaluable insight into STEM and the career they do. For employees who give up their time to support these events, being an Ambassador is a way to give back to the local community but also to develop their own skills. Working as an Ambassador improves confidence and communication, it forces the Ambassadors to step out of their comfort zone and to find ways to engage with a very different audience than the one they would normally work with. The knowledge and skills they are able to share with teachers is invaluable and often helps them understand how a subject like Maths, for example, is used in the real world context of Engineering and manufacturing.