Innovation STEMs from Northern Ireland

From this October, Thales is helping to bring the world of STEM to Northern Ireland. The aim is to inspire children to think like engineers, whilst also equipping teachers with essential STEM skills that they can use in their own classrooms. In partnership with Primary Engineer, the work is part of Thales in the UK’s broader STEM education and outreach programme.

Competition time

Previous competitors proudly display their certificates

If you were an engineer, what would you do? This is precisely the question that is being asked to children as part of the Leaders Award competition.

Launched on the 26th of October, this year’s competition is challenging participating children to interview an engineer, identify a problem of their choice, think of a solution and submit both a drawing and a letter that pitches their idea. The ideas will be reviewed by a panel of expert judges from Thales, Primary Engineer and Ulster University, and will test the children’s problem solving skills and entrepreneurial flair. Open to pupils between the ages of 3 and 19, the winning entries shall be made into a reality before they are showcased around the country.

For the first time in the competition’s history, it is being run in Northern Ireland and in previous years has engaged as many as 37,000 pupils. From interactive recycling bins to an app that monitors a person’s gait, the ideas can be as creative as the children decide.

Reflecting on last year’s competition, Wendy May from Millbrook Primary School commented that…

…the children were excited to meet an engineer and really enjoyed being able to ask questions and find out about the work they did. I was impressed to see their ideas and the information they had retained from this experience.

Entries can be submitted until 27 March, 2019 and you can learn more about the Leaders Award competition here.

Teacher training

In addition to the Leaders Award competition, Thales and Primary Engineer are also training teachers in Northern Ireland to run STEM projects in their own schools. The initiative will involve approximately twenty teachers receiving training on a Thales site in how to run a STEM project. With Thales providing the necessary kit to run the project and Primary Engineer conducting the training, the teachers will be equipped with the skills to bring STEM to life for their pupils. At the end of the year, the completed projects will also be showcased to celebrate what the children have achieved.

It is so important to show young people how what they are learning in the classroom is relevant in a real life setting

Eve Maywood, Education and Outreach Manager, Thales UK

Around 186,000 people with an engineering skillset will be needed between now and 2024. Thales’s work in Northern Ireland is just one example of its broader STEM education and outreach programme taking place in the UK and you can learn more here