Leonardo teams with The Smallpeice Trust on STEM workshop

Posted on 12 July, 2021 by Advance 

Leonardo has teamed up with childrenÂ’s educational charity, The Smallpeice Trust, to host a free virtual STEM (Science, Engineering and Maths) workshop for primary schools across the UK, in celebration of International Women in Engineering Day on 23rd June.


Dr Kevin P. Stenson, CEO of The Smallpeice Trust.
Courtesy The Smallpeice Trust

Primary schools in Yeovil, Southampton, Basildon, Luton and Edinburgh were invited to take part in the interactive engineering workshop, which involved pupils building and testing their own gliders. The equipment and materials for the project were supplied for free to schools by The Smallpeice Trust and Leonardo, in an effort to give more children the chance to experience the exciting world of engineering.

International Women in Engineering Day celebrates the incredible work of female engineers around the world, yet today women make up just 11% of the UK’s engineering workforce. The Smallpeice Trust and Leonardo are working together to combat misconceptions around STEM and inspire more children, particularly girls, to explore their potential in engineering.

The event kicked off with a talk from Kris Harrison, UK Engineering Innovation Lead at Leonardo, who introduced students to the world of engineering and looked at how it can help people in practice. The move to a virtual format allowed the celebrations to go ahead whilst complying with social distancing requirements, with the added benefit of reaching a wider range and number of students.

Pupils were guided through the Glider Challenge by The Smallpeice Trust’s specialist team of education officers, who provided virtual instruction on how to plan, create, test and improve the gliders. The collaborative virtual event meant that schools could interact with The Smallpeice Trust team and get expert guidance on their projects.

The virtual workshop encouraged pupils to have fun with building their own engineering designs while learning how factors such as balance, wing shape and forces acting on the gliders can impact flight.

Dr Kevin P. Stenson, CEO of The Smallpeice Trust, said: “It’s absolutely brilliant to see so many pupils from across the country participate in our latest primary STEM engagement programme with Leonardo, and demonstrate that engineering is full of fun, creativity and teamwork. Gaining hands-on experience like this is vital in getting more children interested in STEM subjects, and subsequently STEM related careers, to address the engineering industry’s current deficit of two million people.”

Kris Harrison, UK Engineering Innovation Lead  at Leonardo said, “International Women in Engineering Day provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase the work being done by female engineers, and to open the eyes of the next generation as to what a career in engineering might mean to them. By continuing our work with The Smallpeice Trust on this ‘design and make’ project, we have been able to work with so many students to help them see how they can use their existing skills to problem solve and create some amazing gliders.”

Chelsea Tidy, Class Teacher at Pirniehall Primary School said: “The children enjoyed using the materials to create their own gliders. They enjoyed recording and comparing their results. A good event to explore the importance of engineering, addressing any misconceptions girls might have. Very well organised with great resources. Pupils enjoyed the experience.”

Lauren, pupil at Collingwood Primary School, said: “I hadn't thought about engineering before, but I loved designing and making the glider as it was a fun and interactive day.”

Daisy, pupil at Collingwood Primary School, said: “The process of designing and creating the gliders was my favourite part! I enjoyed thinking about the shapes of the wings and tails and seeing how fast they would fly.”