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Primary school students create innovative solutions in STEM Challenge final

Over 80 primary school students from across Worcestershire took part in the 2023 Primary STEM challenge final to showcase their innovative thinking.

After the success of the 2022 Worcestershire Primary STEM challenge, which returned to a physical format for the first time since the COVID pandemic, 2023 marked another successful competition.

The challenge the school students had to overcome this year was to design and build an automated warehouse system for Arrow XL who are based in Worcester.

40 schools from across the county were invited to the final event, which again was hosted at local engineering organisation, Yamazaki Mazak’s UK Headquarters in Worcester.

The 2023 Primary STEM challenge saw over 3000 pupils from across Worcestershire taking part to develop innovative solutions to the challenge presented to them.

Congratulations to the winning teams from Nunnery Wood Primary School and Eldersfield Lawn Church of England Primary School. There were also highly commended runners up and a big well done to Grimley and Holt Church of England Primary School and Broadheath Church of England Primary School for their efforts.

Whilst the judges deliberated, the students were given the chance to visit Mazak’s European Technology Centre. This was a fantastic opportunity, allowing them to get up close and even operate some of the CNC machine tools that Mazak manufacture. It was clear from the feedback that this aspect of the day was a real highlight for the students.

STEMworks, Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, Worcestershire County Council and the District Councils would also like to thank the many judges from local businesses and private organisations who kindly donated their time to help judge the final.

The judges for the final were:

  • Max Jones – Parts and Material Control Senior Manager, Mazak.
  • Andy Growcott - Apprentice and Outreach Supervisor, Mazak.
  • Adam Jeffries – General Manager, Arrow XL.
  • Richard Allen – Learning and Development Manager, Arrow XL.
  • Sylwia Berlinska – UK Productions Supervisor, Southco Manufacturing Ltd.
  • Jon Rebbeck – New Product Manager – Europe and India, Southco Manufacturing Ltd.
  • Dr Nick Wain – R&D and Test Manager, Vax Limited.
  • Lisa Bradbury – Worcestershire Children’s First.

Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “I would like to congratulate the winners, runners up and all the participants from this year’s Primary Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) challenge. Everyone who came along developed creative solutions to the special challenge set.

“The Worcestershire LEP and partners aim to inspire young people into the careers of the future.  This event is one of many within a programme of activity that is helping to do just that. By giving young people the opportunity to explore STEM interests and is all part of our journey to create the county’s future workforce.”

Sarah Lalor from STEMworks UK, said: ““It is a real privilege to be part of this program. The children are given the opportunity to develop essential skills such as problem solving, communication and teamwork within a real world context.  Positive experiences like these are important for children to have exposure to potential STEM sector careers which they might otherwise be unaware of.”

Max Jones, People Development Manager, for Yamazaki Mazak UK, added: “It was fantastic to once again host the Primary STEM challenge here at Mazak, and to see the students put their problem-solving skills to the test in an authentic engineering environment. There were some great team performances from all of the entrants, and I’d like to extend a hearty congratulations to the winners on behalf of everyone at Mazak.

“Fostering the next generation of engineering talents is central to the Mazak philosophy. While we have multiple entry points for school and university leavers, as well as experienced engineers and career-changers a like, activities such as the Primary STEM challenge are a brilliant way of enlightening young minds to the rewarding opportunities a career in engineering can deliver.”

Continuing to build on the growing success of the Primary STEM challenge, the Worcestershire Primary STEM challenge already has 32 schools registered for the 2024 competition to help inspire the next wave of students.

The Primary STEM challenge competition is run by STEMworks UK – a not for profit company, in partnership with Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, Worcestershire County Council and District Councils across the county.

For more information on the STEM challenge programmes and the other workshops delivered by STEMworks, visit the STEMworks website.

To learn more about the work taking place across Worcestershire to help create the county’s future workforce, please visit the Skills4Worcestershire website.

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