Hundreds of school children shrieked with delight as they investigated the world of science in the unusual setting of a Royal Navy warship.
On the first of two days 200 children aged 9-11 from 20 primary schools from across Plymouth took part in a science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) competition on HMS Bulwark – hosted at Devonport Royal Dockyard by the Royal Naval, Babcock International and MoD.
This is the first event of its kind aimed at children of this age and aims to raise the aspiration and awareness of STEM subjects and careers by taking part in ten STEM activities across five locations in the amphibious landing ship in a fun, inspiring and hands-on way.
Captain Martyn Williams, head of engineering for the Devonport Flotilla, said the event was vital to plan ahead and address the shortage of engineers across the UK and in the maritime sector: “The two-day event is about enthusing the next generation of engineers and scientists by staging a series of interactive, hands-on science-based activities.
“The idea of bringing children from the classroom into a warship is to open their eyes and broaden their horizons to what happens in the real world of engineering and technology. It is important not to close off subject options too early at school. To stop maths and science subjects later at school would shut down half of all job opportunities to school leavers. So we must interest the children as early as possible.’’
The thought-provoking and memorable event is supported by Mayflower 400, City College Plymouth, Careers South West group, Plymouth City Council, Plymouth University and the National Marine Aquarium. Activities include assembling simple hydraulic circuits, to building fan powered boats, building and racing CD racers and various engineering puzzles.
At the end of each day prizes were presented to winning individuals and teams by senior business leaders. The Big Bang Competition
Schools taking part are Beechwood, Boringdon, College Road, Compton, Ernesettle Community, Holycross, Knowle, Marine Academy, Mary Dean, Mayflower Academy, Mount Wise, Oakwood, Plympton St Maurice, St Budeaux Foundation, St George, Victoria Road, Weston Mill, Woodford, Widey Court and Yealmpstone Farm.
Craig Lockhart, MD, Naval Marine, based at Devonport Royal Dockyard, said: “I am delighted that, in conjunction with our partners from the MoD and Royal Navy, we are able to offer so many local students the unique opportunity to take part in such a hands-on STEM experience on board a warship. As part of our quest to build engineers of the future it is events like this where students can experiment with a wide range of activities and exercises covering the entire STEM spectrum. A number of local businesses are also involved in the event. Thank you to them for their on-going support and I hope that everyone who attends has a memorable and productive day.”