Leicester school children discover science with STEM day

Robotics, engineering and discovery was on offer yesterday as #DMUlocal teamed up with MCS Projects to help over 80 Leicester schoolchildren learn about STEM subjects.

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Year 8/9 pupils took part in exciting activities that saw them program robots, build electric cars, generate virtual portraits and delve into medical diagnosis.

By working in teams made up of different schools, children also got the chance to make new friends and build their confidence.

Joshua Frame, one of the team leaders at MCS, said: “We put on challenge days like this across the country and get kids from all sorts of schools to come in and compete over four challenges. It’s really good fun.

“Not only do they get to grips with new software or technology but they also learn to work well as a team and communications skills that will be useful for university and the world of work.

“It’s good for kids to get experience of a university campus and students because although they may be aware of STEM subjects they don’t necessarily know where they can go with them.”

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The full day event saw schoolchildren challenge for trophies in in four challenges, all while learning about the exciting career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Tom Butt, Key Stage 3 Science Co-ordinator at New College Leicester, said: “The kids have had a lot of fun and they’ve realised that they can take things they learn in science lessons out of the classroom and apply it to real life.

“One of the biggest parts of today is learning about problem solving and realising that they can think their way around a problem as well as having that confidence to get it wrong to begin with before finding a solution.”

Working in groups of four, the schoolchildren took part in:

The Robot Challenge: Using Lego Mindstorm EV3 kits, young people programmed robots using infrared and and light sensors to avoid obstacles on a track.

Electric Car Challenge: Schoolchildren designed and built battery powered vehicles using plastic kit pieces before racing them.

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E-Fit Challenge: Following a theft, pupils are asked to generate a virtual image of the thief using commercial E-Fit software.

Brain Diagnostics Challenge: Young people use X-rays, EEG scans and ‘patient’ information to diagnose a neurological illness, before investigating how technology is being used to support those with similar illnesses.

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Awards were then presented to the teams who led the way in each challenge by Chairman of the National Space Centre and Deputy Chair of the DMU Board of Governors, Mike Kapur.

Speaking to the schoolchildren, he said: “The key for me about science is that our future depends on it.

“We’re going to have to tackle some pretty important challenges like climate change and these are going to require bright, inquisitive minds like the ones on display this afternoon.”