Babcock brings engineering and robotics to life for Cumbrian children
26 April 2010
Babcock International Nuclear Division is supporting Cumbria STEM Centre at a series of events designed to inspire the next generation of engineers. Two very successful events have already been held this year. Following on from this success, two more events are planned, a Robodance competition at Sellafield May 6-7 and two more Control Technology Days at Barrow-in-Furness November 19-20.
Cumbria’s STEM Centre exists to excite and inspire young people about science, technology, engineering and maths careers. Its MD, Tony Gill, said: “We have a high profile with local primary and secondary schools. Our events are fun, but there is a serious message. Babcock supplies us with a remote manipulator and superb STEM ambassadors, but the star of the show has to be a friendly robot called Oscar, who acts as a compere for all these Control Technology events. We couldn’t mount these events without Babcock’s help.”
All the activities designed for the children focus on the engineering skills required by the nuclear industry, especially robotics and remote handling. In the May Robodance Event at Sellafield, the children will split into teams of four to build and programme a small robot to move in time to a music track of their choice. The children have to master both RoboLab software and LEGO Mindstorms hardware in order to design a robot able to dance. However, it isn’t just about the technology, as problem solving and teamwork are considered just as important. The Day culminates in the RoboDance Competition.
The Control Technology Days and Robolab Events allow the children to rotate around a series of activities, including Babcock’s flight simulator, electronic dice, mini manipulators and an assortment of robotic arms. They are supported by Babcock’s STEM Ambassadors, Malcolm Freeman, Pearse Toner, Derek Hudson and Stephen Keene, who bring technology to life in a way that simply isn’t possible in a classroom environment. The feedback the team has received from the schools which take part has been overwhelmingly positive, with teachers reporting that the Days have provoked a great deal of class discussion and that they also cover many aspects of the ICT curriculum requirements.
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