BUDDING young scientists and engineers gave up some of their Easter holidays to take part in a low carbon residential at EDF Energy’s Cannington Court training centre.
Some 50 Year Nine students from schools across Somerset spent four days tackling a range of scientific and construction challenges through the Hinkley Point C Inspire education programme.
Challenges ranged from designing a water-powered turbine to generate electricity to working together to try and fix a leaking pipe hidden under a sealed box using nothing more than a torch, a spanner and an endoscope.
They were also given an insight into how EDF Energy uses social media to promote low carbon energy generation by taking control of the company’s @edfehinkleyc Twitter account.
They used #studenttakeover to shout about their work during the residential with Tweets including their own ideas for producing low carbon electricity and a photo of their wind powered car.
The pupils came from Chilton Trinity School, Haygrove School, Robert Blake Science College all in Bridgwater, Bishop Fox’s School in Taunton, Wellington School, Huish Episcopi Academy, Kingsmead School in Wiveliscombe, St Dunstan’s School in Glastonbury, The Blue School in Wells, the Kings of Wessex Academy in Cheddar and Wadham School in Yeovil.
Since it was launched in 2011, the Inspire programme has made 104,000 connections with the next generation of engineers and scientists.
The programme aims to prepare young people to take advantage of the huge opportunities the Hinkley Point C project will bring by inspiring them to explore the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics – known as STEM.
Somerset schools were each invited to put forward five students for the residential which was delivered in partnership with STEMworks and Bridgwater College.
The pupils were split into eight groups for the three days, with each group mentored by EDF Energy graduates.
Darren Towers, EDF Energy’s Head of Education and Skills, said: “All the young people who took part had volunteered to be there during their school holidays which showed real commitment on their behalf.
“The UK faces a major skills gap so it’s vital for our business and the country that we encourage this kind of interest and enable even more young people to gain hands-on experience of STEM through programmes like Inspire.
“The low carbon residential is particularly effective as our graduates help run the workshops and mentor the students taking part. That means the pupils can meet young people who are already in our company and get some real-life guidance about what we do and the opportunities available to them.”
The students enjoyed a games evening, sports, a low ropes challenge and a visit to Hinkley Point B power station during the four days.
The event culminated with an evening presentation and an exhibition of work for parents, guardians and teachers.
Simon Kettle of STEMworks said: “By the end of the residential we want each student to realise that not all jobs with EDF Energy are for engineers – there is a huge breadth of skills needed, including physicists, supply chain, project planners and environmental scientists.
“We make sure they have fun as well as finding their stay educational and it’s a great opportunity for young people to come and meet EDF Energy and see what the company and the world of STEM is all about.”