Rowan Joachim, a Transport for London Project Leader on the London Underground Crossrail Team, recently helped welcome sixty children from schools in Enfield to the London Transport Museum’s ‘Inspire Engineering’ day.
The object is to get school students to think seriously about a career in railway engineering. Over 2,000 children have now visited the museum’s Acton Depot in west London. Students take part in a hands-on day making full use of the museum’s unique transport collection.
Inspire Engineering aims to encourage Key Stage 3 schoolchildren (aged 11-14) to make exam choices relevant to an engineering career. Results and feedback are good. Demonstrating the practical applications of engineering really increases fascination in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.
As well as involving children in practical experiments – such as the Breaking Eggsperiment, where teams work together to build a train track that can carry an egg passenger – they were also introduced to an Engineering Ace, an industry ambassador, to give them a better understanding of engineering. Rowan Joachim happily took on the role.
Says Rowan, ‘At the start of the day most of the children have no real understanding of what engineering is or think it’s something to do with repairing washing machines or fixing cars. But by the end of the session they start to see just how much engineering affects their everyday lives.
‘They are always amazed when they hear about the type of work that engineers get involved in and what a creative career it can be. It’s days like this that help to make children think about the opportunities available to them, whether they take up an engineering apprenticeship after GCSEs, or stay on at school and continue to study science at A level.’
A study by the Institute of Physics showed that nearly half of all state schools in England do not send girls on to study A-level physics. A separate report from the Royal Institution’s L’Oreal Young Scientist Centre claimed that one in two schoolchildren find science and maths too difficult or too boring to study; this despite seven in ten children deciding on science-based careers. The London Transport Museum is helping put that right.