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2 April 2008
Joy Warde, Outreach Officer at the Department of
The educational outreach undertaken by the Department of Engineering to engage children and young people in the challenge of hands-on activities such as building rockets and planes, skyscrapers and bridges - has been recognised by a prestigious national award.
Joy Warde, Outreach Officer here at the Department of Engineering, was one of a small group of practitioners to receive special commendation from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network (STEMNET) for an outstanding contribution to initiatives that encourage young peoples interest in engineering.
Funded by the Department of Trade and Industry, STEMNET works with partners in industry and education to run initiatives that encourage a flow of creative young people into the science, technology and engineering sectors.
The 2008 awards for Science and Engineering Ambassadors (SEAs) were presented by Ian Pearson, Minister for Science and Innovation, Lord Sainsbury and Jon Tickle, presenter of the TV show Brainiac at a ceremony at the House of Lords.
Joy was nominated for an SEA award by SETPoint Cambridge and St Albans RC Primary School in Cambridge. In its nomination St Albans wrote that, as a female engineer, Joy had challenged pupils stereotypical views of the profession, and had inspired them to discover new skills, such as team work and problem solving.
Working with more than 120 undergraduate and graduate volunteers, Joy stages a busy programme of outreach activities at the Department of Engineering for children, families and young people. Each year these attract participation by around 2,000 people, many of whom come from a 20-mile radius of Cambridge.
Some activities are staged for schools and groups; others are open to the general public. Regular free events such as the Discover Engineering family workshops are so popular that they are booked up well in advance. Events like this are a great opportunity for local families to visit the Engineering Department, meet some real engineers and complete a fun hands-on challenge, said Joy.
The overall emphasis is on hands-on activities that encourage participants to get to grips with basic concepts such as flight and strong structures. The success of interactive sessions stems from well-planned projects, a plentiful supply of materials, and interaction between participants (who may be as young as six) and enthusiastic volunteers.
Volunteers get involved to share their enthusiasm for engineering with visiting school pupils and families, and also to get involved in the kind of activities many of them wished they could have done at school, said Joy.
Around 50 volunteers took part in the Rocket Car Derby session organised as part of Cambridge Science Festival. It was fabulous to see families using some basic engineering principles to design, build and test a rocket car and also have lots of fun, said Joy.
For details of events and activities run by the Department of Engineering visit the Outreach web pages at: www.eng.cam.ac.uk/outreach/.
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