Now in its sixth year, the engineering-based theatre show hopes to inspire 25,000 school children about science and engineering in 2011. Recent studies by industry body Engineering UK, have estimated that not only will just 10% of pupils continue with science post 16, but in the next 10 years the number of 18 year olds who choose to study science, technology, engineering and maths beyond that age could fall by a further 16%.
Hosted by Brains, the roadshow, which consists of a live theatre performance followed by two workshops, will tour 250 schools across the length and breadth of the UK. The first workshop challenges students to programme a Lego Mindstorm vehicle, using laptop computers to navigate a short course. The second workshop, delivered by Royal Air Force personnel, will look at examples of how nature has inspired engineering inventions. BAE Systems for example has used biomimicry to design kit including BugEye – an optical imaging system based on the eye of a microscopic fly called the Xenos peckii.
Speaking at the launch event today, Nigel Whitehead, Group Managing Director at BAE Systems said: “The Schools Roadshow is a key element of our Skills 2020 programme which aims to ensure BAE Systems and the wider engineering community have the right skills to operate successfully in 2020. It’s crucial for the UK’s economic wellbeing that more young people choose careers in science, engineering, technology and maths. We’re particularly pleased to be working with the Royal Air Force as we share many of the same objectives in protecting the UK’s pipeline of engineering talent .”
Blue Peter presenter Andy Akinwolere added: “Today has been fascinating for me! The roadshow makes the connections between science and everyday life and brings home why engineering is so important. It’s been great to watch it in action.”
Air Vice Marshal Simon Bollom, Director Combat Air, said: “Having a career as an engineer in the UK Royal Air Force allows you to work in locations across the world. Looking after some of the most technologically advanced aircraft requires the very best in engineering talent. The Schools Roadshow is designed to inspire and encourage young people to consider the incredible opportunities that are open to them in these specialist fields.”
Through its Skills 2020 programme, BAE Systems invests more than £50M per annum in the UK in education and schools activity, university partnerships and training and development for employees. Skills 2020 represents BAE Systems' commitment to ensuring it has the right skills to remain competitive and operate successfully in the UK over the next decade, into 2020 and beyond. The company has a dedicated website with a range of free on-line resources for pupils and teachers at www.baesystems.com/education