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Primary school gets first-hand insight into engineers' work

September 24th, 2016 7:15 AM

By Siobhan Cronin

Students at Crosshaven NS receiving engineering certs.

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A WEST Cork primary school has teamed up with a UCC-based company, founded by a Clonakilty man, to promote science, arts and technology subjects.

Steam Education brings the ‘Stem’ subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), plus arts, into primary schools in a series of fun and interesting demonstrations and experiments, with the aim of fanning the flames of wonder and excitement that these subjects can bring to young and enquiring minds.

Steam was established in 2014 by Clonakilty native and scientist Seamus Devlin, who started the programme in his child’s local school, Darrara NS, having noticed that not all the subjects were being taught at primary level.

Now it is a successful not-for-profit firm, supported by such heavy-hitters as BAM, Eli Lilly, Sisk, GSK and DePuy.

It is hoped that by involving children at this young age, it will prompt some of the professionals of the future to think about having a career in those areas.

Abbeystrewry National School in Skibbereen has teamed up with Steam this year, and will welcome hour-long weekly visits from local engineers who will talk about their work and careers with the children.

Abbeystrewry’s partner firm is Bam construction, which has just completed construction of the nearby state-of-the-art Skibbereen Community School. As a result, two Bam engineers will be co-teaching the ‘Engineering in a Box’ programme at the school, and encouraging the children to see engineering in a fun and practical way.

Engineers Michael O’Brien and Conor Nolan will spend one hour a week over 10 weeks, interacting with the children and teachers at Abbeystrewry and running experiments and demonstrations to get the kids involved.

Steam Education, now based at the UCC Western Gateway Building, says its Science in a Box programme covers everything from the Big Bang to human biology, linked to the primary school and junior cert curricula.

The engineers will teach alongside the teachers and the programme comprises interactive games  to help the children learn the key scientific concepts in each lesson.

‘In Bam, we put a lot of work into professional development and sharing our expertise with people who may or may not be directly involved with construction,’ explained Conor.  ‘Both Michael and I were put forward by Bam, to deliver this programme in conjunction with Engineers Ireland and Steam,’ he added.

Michael, from Marcroom, pointed out how it will work in practice: ‘ The programme will be one day a week for 10 weeks. Conor and I have split it, so each of us will do five weeks. This will be my first time getting involved with Steam, so we are looking forward to sharing our experience of working in the construction industry.’

The duo say that it will hopefully help to inspire the students: 

‘Over the past few years, the construction industry has suffered academically with a lack of engineers, quantity surveyors, architects and more, and now, with construction and engineering starting to gradually pick up, this programme will benefit the kids to think about their future hopefully in engineering and construction,’ added Conor.

If you are a company wishing to sponsor a school, phone 021 4205437.

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