We're starting work with a team of Rolls-Royce graduates to develop an education programme aimed at getting more young people interested in engineering and science.
The team will be designing interactive kits giving teachers fun and exciting outdoor learning experiences to help them bring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects to life.
Aimed at 7-14 year olds, the canal-based programme will help children understand the practical uses of engineering and science as well as appreciate how turning points in design and technology, such as the canal boom during the Industrial Revolution, shaped the world we live in today.
Linked to the National Curriculum, the programme will be based around a travelling roadshow delivered by 16-24 year old volunteers with a particular interest in STEM subjects. The volunteers will support children as they use the interactive kits and take part in fun activities, encouraging them to be creative and scientific as they learn how canals were built and explore the basic principles of engineering. A nationwide team of engineers will also act as STEM mentors within schools taking part.
Research shows that real-life examples and interactive sessions can play an important part in getting young people more engaged with STEM subjects and encouraging them to think about future career opportunities. With half of the population living within five miles of a canal or river, a visit to a local waterway offers a great opportunity for youngsters to explore the impressive examples of engineering on their doorstep.
Stories and characters
Richard Parry, chief executive of the Trust, said; “Our waterways are full of great stories and characters that young people love but they're also really accessible. Amazing feats of canal engineering designed and built by the likes of James Brindley, William Jessop and Thomas Telford can be found everywhere so our waterways are ideal places to bring these subjects to life.
“We're really excited to be working with such a renowned organisation as Rolls-Royce and can't wait to see what their creative minds come up with. With such a rich subject matter and the innovation of one of the world's leading engineering firms we'll be able to develop an engaging and fun programme that, delivered by a creative and enthusiastic team of young volunteers, will really capture the imaginations of budding engineers.”
Debbie Duro, community investment manager for Rolls-Royce, said; “Working with the Canal & River Trust will provide our new graduates with an excellent opportunity to inspire, engage and enthuse children about engineering and science using the canal network. We are really excited about this project which supports our target to reach 6 million people through our STEM programmes and activities by 2020.”
The team will be working over the next nine months to design and test the kits with prototypes tested in schools from September. The final kits will be launched in 2016 to coincide with the bicentenary of the birth of James Brindley, the father of canal engineering in Britain.