Gloucestershire global engineering company, Renishaw, has joined nine local special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) schools across Gloucestershire in helping to teach students about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Renishaw provided each school with two discovery boxes one to introduce them to Renishaw and Engineering and the other to discover some of the STEM Outreach projects that they run with schools to promote STEM careers. The company is currently running virtual workshops alongside exploring the contents of the boxes to help students understand more about engineering and to reach out to more diverse audiences with the key message that Engineering careers are accessible to all.
The boxes were designed to bring a multi-sensory experience of seeing, hearing, doing, and touching for students. The first discovery box offered participants the chance to feel like an Engineer by trying on a lab coat and safety glasses, the students then had the chance to learn about the company’s expertise including 3D printing with both metal and plastic 3D parts providing textures and colours and a brain-shaped stress reliever linking into Renishaw’s neuromate® robot used for neurosurgery.
The contents of the second STEM Outreach projects discovery box revealed a Renishaw spinning top linking into the magnetic top chaser activity, once spun the top provided movement and sound for all. An RGB torch, where students learnt that the Red, Green and Blue LEDs each emit a pure colour, but when colours are added in different proportions they make all the colours of the rainbow, creating an array of colours to see and finally some rigid and flexible printed circuit boards which are commonly used in all type of electronic devices and seen frequently as part of the Technology Teardown sessions that the team offers to run with schools.
“As the boxes were being opened, I presented a virtual workshop to help explain the importance of each item and describe how they could be used in engineering and STEM environments,” commented Rebecca Bound, STEM Outreach Officer at Renishaw. “Using the physical and sensory aspects of the boxes, we could engage the students far more effectively than with a presentation on its own, and we really enjoyed this more practical approach. The boxes will now stay with the schools, so we can continue to educate future generations of students in this interactive way.
“During the presentation, we discussed different STEM career options with the students, including our engineering apprenticeships,” continued Bound. “The engineering industry is forecast to have a large skills gap, so encouraging students from a diverse range of backgrounds to consider engineering will help inspire more young people to become excited about engineering.”
“SEND learners can be the furthest away from the labour market and it’s important for them to learn what they can do and the support that is available to them,” explained Lauren Greening, SEND Enterprise Coordinator and Programme Leader at GFirst LEP.” Since I suggested the discovery boxes to Renishaw, the company has been so accommodating with providing everything we need, which has really helped the careers agenda at the local SEND schools.
“Students with sensory needs work best when they are touching and feeling the objects they are interacting with, but the pandemic caused a lot of sensory activities to come to a halt,” continued Greening. “It is important that we reach out to students with a wide variety of needs and using a more hands-on approach to careers training is beneficial for future employers as it is for students. It empowers them to experience the industry for themselves, giving them a feel for everything it has to offer.”
Renishaw is one of the Cornerstone employers for the GFirst LEP group which works collaboratively in conjunction with the Careers Hub to develop initiatives and best practice to ensure that all young people in the county are inspired and have the opportunities they need to be prepared for the future world of work in Gloucestershire and beyond.