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Sellafield hosts local school kids to inspire future engineers

by Mark Cantrell
Sellafield's Engineering Centre of Excellence (ECE) turned itself into a play centre with a serious purpose, when it hosted primary schoolchildren for a celebration of British Science Week.

Sellafield’s Engineering Centre of Excellence (ECE) turned itself into a play centre with a serious purpose, when it hosted primary schoolchildren for a celebration of British Science Week.

More than 50 children were treated to an immersive experience, getting hands-on with crawler robots, drone simulators, and 3D printers at the state-of-the art engineering centre.

The aim was to shine a light on the range of careers available in robotics, artificial intelligence, and more – and maybe inspire these young minds to consider careers in these fields once they grow older.

The visit from pupils of the Distington Community School, in Workington, Cumbria, to the engineering centre at Cleator Moor saw children aged seven to 11 set a series of engineering challenges.

They enjoyed a host of activities led by the team at the centre, each set up to show the diversity within an engineering career. Some tried their hand at constructing marshmallow and spaghetti towers, night rover robots, and paper rockets, while others took to the sky on a drone simulator.

The school visit was timed with British Science Week, a celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) that runs from March 8-17. Through these events, the ECE team endeavour to peak children’s interest in STEM subjects.

Claire O’Connor, ECE’s socio-economic lead, said: “It’s always a pleasure to see the kids interacting with our team and enjoying all aspects of STEM. We enjoy these days just as much as they do, and we hope that the students from Distington left the centre with enthusiasm for a career in engineering.

“This is where it starts, the experiences you have at school shape your attitude and expertise for the future. We want to play our part in laying the foundation for the next generation of engineers and innovators.”

The activities gave students an interactive opportunity to practice their scientific knowledge in an environment outside the classroom, where they were able to ask questions and learn more about life as an engineer.

Scarlett, a Year Five student, said: “There has been lots to do and I’ve really enjoyed it. The drone simulator was my favourite, and I managed to drive it without crashing. I’ve never done something like that before.”

Olivia from Year Three said: “The Lego was definitely my favourite, I have Lego sets at home but I got to build a robot with my friends here. We also saw a robot dog walk down the stairs!”

Teachers from Distington School had approached the ECE to help them expand on their science curriculum.

Steven Bragg, Year Four teacher and science lead at the school, said: “Science feeds into everyday life, and with so many STEM careers here in Cumbria we wanted to let the children see what was right on their doorstep.

“It’s been great to see them having a go at something different, and they really enjoyed getting out of their comfort zone – we’d love to come back.”

This was the first school visit to Sellafield’s Centre of Excellence this year. The facility regularly hosts students, apprentices, and offers upskilling – helping to shape the region’s engineers.

Main image: Claire O’Connor from Sellafield helps a student to construct a night rover


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