Now in its fifth year, the 2010 Schools Road-show will be larger than ever before, visiting over 300 schools over the course of the year. The show will be seen by around 40,000 young people from age 9-14 in towns and cities across the UK, from Portsmouth to Glasgow.
The theme for this year’s Road-show is ‘biomimetics’ or biologically inspired technologies. Demonstrating how engineers and scientists throughout history have taken their cue from the performance of animals and plants, a touring theatre group will bring to life the vital role that nature has played in influencing the design of some of the world’s most iconic inventions, from helicopters and submarines to the Harrier jump-jet.
As the UK’s largest employer of skilled engineers, BAE Systems is working with the Royal Air Force to encourage pupils to take a greater interest in science, technology, engineering and maths to help counter a decline in those choosing engineering as a career. Recent studies 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 will fall by 16%. This steadily declining pool of engineering talent is a real challenge for British industry and the armed forces.
BAE Systems’ Chairman Dick Olver said: “The Schools Road-show is a fantastic opportunity for us to show young people the practical applications of science and engineering in the real world, as well as outlining the rewarding careers available”
Air Vice Marshal Nick Kurth, Chief of Staff Support, Air Command and head of the engineering profession in the RAF added: “Having a career as an engineer in the RAF 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. One-third of the 41,000 personnel in the RAF do jobs connected with engineering and these roles are open to men and women equally.”
Naturalist Nick Baker, currently presenting Weird Creatures on Channel 5, is backing the initiative after his own childhood passion for science and the natural world inspired him to dedicate his life to studying the animal kingdom.
Nick commented: “Science and nature are more closely tied together than people might think. There are many great engineering innovations that have been in some way influenced or inspired by the natural world.
“Showing how engineers and scientists are inspired by animals and plants brings science and engineering to life in a way children can easily relate to.”
The thirty minute youth theatre performance is followed by workshops in which students explore what it means to be an engineer with a BAE Systems engineering graduate. Pupils work in teams with a BAE Systems or RAF engineer to use what they have learnt about biomimetics to design either a revolutionary new wing, or a vehicle to ‘walk’ across water without breaking its surface.
Designs will be entered into a competition, with the winner picked at the end of the tour.
BAE Systems’ education programme is a Business in the Community ‘Big Tick’ Award winner. Further details of its innovative approach to develop a clearer understanding of engineering and its application in the world around us can be found on a dedicated website which details a range of free on-line resources for pupils and teachers (www.baesystems.com/education).
About BAE Systems
BAE Systems is a global defence, security and aerospace company with approximately 107,000 employees worldwide. The Company delivers a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services. In 2009 BAE Systems reported sales of £22.4 billion (US$ 36.2 billion)
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