Ramsgate Arts Primary girls explore their engineering skills

Developing skills at Ramsgate Arts Primary

Girls at Ramsgate Arts Primary are being encouraged to explore and develop their engineering skills.

An after school club run by professionals from Cummins Power Generators has caught the imagination of girls from Years 3 to 6 who are keen to do more in the subject at a time when there are only around 10 per cent of women working as engineers in the UK.

The girls were set a series of tasks to work out using their own current skills plus advice from their Cummins tutors who explained: “Our aim is to show how fun and exciting science and engineering can be through innovating, creating and building real-life models.”

Working in mixed age teams, the girls tackled a number of tasks that included using K’nex building kits, making a walking robot, a drain pipe and cup stack challenge.

They also had to build a sturdy miniature bridge using basic materials and work out a way to protect an egg when it was dropped from a series of increasing heights using rubber bands, lollipop sticks, string, pipe-cleaners and plastic bags.

Luke Holland, whose background is applied mechanics, is one of the Cummins team at the workshops. He said: “There are not many girls who decide to take up engineering in later life. It is important to give them a foundation into physics, mechanics and science at an early age so they have an engineering experience.”

The Cummins project also encourages collaboration and teamwork, helps develop problem-solving and trouble-shooting skills, and have fun with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths).

Ruby, aged 9 from Year 5, said the workshops were fascinating. She said: “I really want to be an engineer when I am older. I loved making the robots and solving the problem of how to drop an egg from a height without it smashing.

“I think it would be good if more girls took up engineering.”

Isobel said: “It is amazing fun making the bridges and trying to get them to be strong enough,” while Sienna agreed and added: “I really enjoy making things. It is interesting.”

Head of School Nick Budge believes it is vital to help address the engineering gender gap. He said “Only around 10 per cent of UK engineers are women and that is terribly low.

“STEAM topics and projects are important to us as an arts primary because it gives our children a real diversity of learning.

“Working with professionals from Cummins is always a rewarding experience for our pupils and it enriches their skills base, broadens their horizons and they have hands-on fun too.”

Report Peter Barnett