Full STEM ahead!

The education team have launched their brand new learning programme, 'Canal & River Trust - STEM' at the Cheltenham Science Festival.

Nothing is off limits at the Cheltenham Science Festival and this year's programme was jam packed with amazing science; from the state of the planet, to the latest stem cell research, to the secrets of the perfect cup of tea. It was the perfect opportunity to launch our brand new STEM learning programme, which has been developed with support from Rolls-Royce.

'Canal & River Trust - STEM' aims to inspire young people about the many STEM related career options available along our waterways. With the help of volunteer STEM Ambassadors, some of which already work in STEM roles across the Trust, the programme will offer free outreach workshops to secondary schools across England and Wales.

The Canal & River Trust team were set up in the 'Discover Zone' all week, demonstrating some of the STEM workshops on offer, including how gears work, testing the pH value of water and trialling canal bank protection techniques. Volunteer Anna Birt describes their busy week:

'Staff and volunteers from the Canal & River Trust are now recovering from an extremely busy week at the Cheltenham Science Festival, where the team interacted with nearly 4000 people throughout the five day event!

Our stand was dedicated to teaching our younger visitors about the engineering and conservation work carried out by the Trust on our nation's canal and river systems. The popular attraction was the 'Build a Crane' activity, which is designed to demonstrate how gears, cogs and pulleys can lift weights easily and efficiently. With a ready made model to copy, our visitors had to construct a crane that could lift a weight with as little effort as possible. More enthusiastic engineers could experiment with different size cogs to understand about gear ratio and mechanical advantage.

We also taught about hydraulics and their function in waterways engineering. A simple exercise involving pushing water through a syringe and along a tube to lift a pebble up from its stand showed the power of water pressure to move and lift objects.

Our conservation demonstration showed how riverbanks can be supported to reduce erosion by using various methods. The purpose was to show that different bank protection methods work best in different areas. Sometimes purpose built stone banks can offer protection where natural defences aren't sufficient.'

A big thank you is due to all the volunteers and staff that helped out at the Cheltemham Science Festival.

More information about Canal & River Trust - STEM can be found here - with details on how to book a free workshop for your school.

Last date edited: 15 June 2017

About this blog

The Education Team

The Education Team delivers two main learning programmes. Explorers which is aimed at primary school children and uniformed groups, and STEM which is aimed at secondary schools. We provide free, curriculum linked learning resources for teachers and offer a range of outreach sessions to inspire children and young people about our waterways. Our fantastic Education Volunteers deliver sessions on the towpath or in school, bringing the stories of our waterways to life.


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