A workshop has been held for Sheffield schoolgirls to build their creative confidence and get them engaged with science, technology, engineering, art and maths (STEM).
Around 110 pupils gathered at Hinde House Secondary School in Shiregreen on Monday for the outreach event which encouraged them to explore their creative and problem solving skills by working in teams to build an aircraft out of different materials.
As well as the practical aspect, the Year 5 and Year 6 students from both Concord Junior School and Hinde House Primary School received a talk from Dr Alison Buxton, of Steam Works – a not-for-profit organisation on a mission to get more children engaged in STEM and STEAM careers.
She spoke of the exciting aspects of such careers in a bid to encourage them to get involved in engineering in later life, and hopefully bridge the gap between the number of men and women in those roles.
Figures from the latest State of Engineering Report – which was released last year – revealed that while women comprised nearly 50 per cent of the overall UK workforce in 2016, they only made up 20.5% of those working in engineering sector.
And, the proportion was even lower when looking at those working in care and related engineering roles at 12 per cent.
Dr Buxton, Director of Steam Works, said: “We tend to find that, through our work with schools, a lot of children have creativity and confidence in their own creativity at quite a young age but as they go through school a lot of that creativity is often lost.
“They lose the confidence in their own creative abilities so it is really important to give them the opportunity to work on their own designs and do their own problem solving and to have that going on as an outlet to help them with other areas.
“This is a key age before they go to high school, lots of them have got SATs coming up, and it is something different for them.”
Working in teams, the girls designed, manufactured and constructed their planes even using electrical engineering to put electronics in their projects too.
They were joined by representatives from the Royal Air Force youth outreach team, volunteers from the STEM industry and those with regular roles in the RAF who were on hand to answer questions and help if necessary.
Dr Buxton added: “Through these workshops the girls are able to discover their own skills in these areas, so they’re learning about how engineers are creative, solving problems and using their skills to help people.”
Steam Works work closely with the RAF and hosts numerous events in schools in a bid to encourage young people into STEM careers.
Dave Owens, STEM coordinator and maths teacher at Hinde House Secondary School, said: "The ability to get people like this in to school to run these kind of events is inspirational to these young girls particularly.
"They're invaluable, it is not something that they get everyday in the curriculum as such. It is great to see them working as a team and developing skills."