Tuesday, November 14th, 2017.

Teacher Joe Temple with young engineers

Young engineers from Laidlaw Schools Trust academies are tackling a STEM Challenge with Excelsior Academy as the runway to their success.

Pupils from Rainbird, Atkinson Road and Westgate Hill Primary academies took their first steps on the road to building their own model aircraft under the watchful eye of a team of experts.

Excelsior Academy has joined with the Success4All charity and engineering giant Reece Group to spark children’s enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and maths.

Designing and refining their own paper aeroplane to see how far their aircraft would fly with the heaviest weight it could carry was the first task of a six-week long STEM Challenge project.

It will culminate in a visit to Reece Group’s Scotswood Road premises to test out their final aircraft models as well as a tour of the premises of the world renowned engineering firm.

Joe Temple, Excelsior Academy Subject Development Leader of Engineering and Construction, said: “We are working with Success4All who are funding a series of six-week STEM projects to run throughout the year.

“The final week will see the pupils get to go and see where the engineers work at Reece, how they work and to present their project to engineers.

“The idea of the project is to involve as many students as we can from the primary schools, to get the pupils engaged with STEM subjects early on so they have been bitten by the buzz and the excitement of STEM before they reach secondary school.”

A series of challenges will focus on the different aspects of STEM throughout the school year working with large businesses.

Success4All is leading the project. The charity equips and empowers young people for a successful future in partnership with organisations including schools.

One of its aims is to set up more S4A Learning Hubs in areas of low academic achievement, using educational activities to engage young people’s intellect.

Kirsty Hayward, Success4All STEM project co-ordinator, said: “This particular challenge is all very much engineering based, it’s all about designing and testing, trial and error, to design a humanitarian aeroplane to fly the furthest and carry the most weight.

“Pupils will start by making an aeroplane out of paper and then use different materials and computers to design it and then test it.

“We want to show that the STEM project they are doing links to careers that are happening here and now in the North East.

“The whole point is that this is a practical project, team based and the pupils will be learning a lot of STEM skills without really realising it, scientific investigation skills, to get them engaged with STEM careers and to see how many different careers there are.”