Plantworx and the CEA first began working with Primary Engineer in 2015 and have since funded hundreds of potential young engineers from local schools – inspiring our future engineers. However, this will be the first year that a 'Construction Project' has been introduced where the children will be tasked, using STEM skills, to create a dumper truck or a tower crane, which is very exciting – particularly in a Plantworx year! The presentation and judging of the school projects will be held at Plantworx on Thursday, 15th June 2023, as part of the 'Student Day'.
Andrew Norris, Head of Partnerships, Central and East England, Primary Engineer, said, "It is wonderful to once again be working with Plantworx and the CEA to provide opportunities to demonstrate the power of engineering to children in the Peterborough area. Primary Engineer will train the teachers and bring engineering professionals into the classrooms to demonstrate that engineering is a career for everyone. It is also fantastic that the pupils participating will be able to visit Plantworx, be wowed by the equipment on show, and hopefully go back to their studies with a clear goal of making a difference in the world through engineering."
There is a well-documented drive to increase the number of young people engaging with STEM as a precursor to careers in the sector. Within this ambition is the awareness that the number of females attracted to engineering and science is not increasing sufficiently to make an impact on the gender balance in the sector.
The Primary Engineer Construction project provides both KS1/P2-3 and KS2/P4-7 teachers and pupils with creative, practical projects using construction engineering as the vehicle.
The training comprises two teachers per school and an invited engineer. Teachers make models on the course to use in the classroom. They are given an understanding of the curriculum links and access to the Primary Engineer Virtual Learning Environment, where teaching resources can be found.
Working in teams, the students will build their projects, which will form part of the school curriculum. The best teams will then present their designs at Plantworx on Thursday, 15th June, as part of 'Student Day', where they will be judged by a team of engineers.
The demand for engineers way surpasses the numbers coming through the current routes to apprenticeships and university programmes. Perceptions of engineering stereotypes are ripe for change, which will initiate in primary school classrooms.
Primary Engineer has been working with teachers to address the fundamental issue of a lack of engineers and the wider perception of engineering since 2005. Its programmes and activities have a national footprint engaging over 65,000 pupils in the academic year 2021-22.
The research demonstrates that primary teachers find STEM subjects more difficult to teach, and this lack of skills increases the disengagement of pupils with these subjects from a very early age. Primary Engineer has addressed this issue by providing teachers with practical skills and academic knowledge to subtly apply and embed the theoretical into the practical, effectively 'STEM by Stealth'.
The impact on the teaching professionals and their pupils has been reported anecdotally in numerous schools, Ofsted reports and evaluations from Engineering UK's Tomorrow's Engineers programme, which funded some of Primary Engineers' engagement with schools, have also demonstrated a significant impact on learning outcomes and experiences.
Since 2005 Primary Engineer has responded to the demand led by teachers and local companies expanding the programme from the first Primary Engineer training days delivered to primary teachers to a comprehensive suite of training and whole class activities.
Plantworx and CEA are looking for sponsorship support from Plantworx Exhibitors and CEA member companies – £800 is the cost to become a sponsor of the 2023 Primary Engineer event – this fee covers funding for teacher training, providing the materials and the project delivery.
All companies involved will receive widespread publicity, which will surround this event and be invited to the 'Celebration Event', which will be held on Thursday, 15th June 2023, at the Plantworx Exhibition, East of England Arena and Events Centre, Peterborough.