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Defect detectives – students join TWI for third challenge project day

Year 5 students from Fulbourn Primary School joined TWI to become defect detectives for the day

 As part of a Cambridge LaunchPad project day, the students were split into small teams and challenged to programme a Lego Mindstorms robot to detect defects along a weld line.

Together with volunteer ambassadors, many of them in the early stages of their careers, students were guided through the process of programming their robot to stop when a defect was detected, and then continue along the weld line.

The students were introduced to coding skills to complete their robots, as well as naming their programmed robots and creating a banner for the final defect detective competition – with the tasks designed to get them thinking about the real-world applications in the industry.

A large track was created using black tape to represent the weld line with intersecting red tape as the defects, where the teams tested their robots with TWI engineers and staff cheering them on.

A student from Fulbourn Primary School said:

“I loved finding the problems and working together in our teams. Making the robot was really fun and I liked looking at different materials when the design didn’t work.”

For Gabriela Gallegos Garrido Ph.D, MSci. Research Fellow, London South Bank Innovation Centre – volunteering at Cambridge LaunchPad project days helps her to share her passion for STEM, and be a female role model for other young girls with an interest in STEM. She said:

“One thing that shocked me when I started university was to see me surrounded by guys. So I guess the most important thing that students gain is to see that anyone, no matter their gender, can do engineering.

“The best reward is hearing the students talking about their different ideas for a great design. Hearing them say ‘oh, this is actually fun’. And when someone says ‘I want to be like you when I grow up’ or ‘I want to study engineering now’ – all of the effort to organise such a big day was worth it.”

By giving students the chance to work with engineers from a diverse range of backgrounds, Cambridge LaunchPad aims to show them the possibilities that are available to them and inspire them to reach their full potential.

Anne Jarman, Teacher at Fulbourn Primary School, said:

“What a fantastic opportunity. A day to engage and motivate engineers of the future. We feel both proud and privileged.”

Over the course of the day, students were encouraged to think about some of the additional skills they were developing during their activities. These skills included teamwork, communication, problem-solving and curiosity.

The team that best displayed their understanding of these values, along with having a successful robot, were given the ‘Top Team’ award and invited to attend the Cambridge LaunchPad award ceremony at the end of the academic year.

Recognition and certificates were also given for the teams that had the best design and the best teamwork.

Molly Askham, Programme Delivery Manager, said: “Through interactions with so many early career professionals, it really opens students’ eyes to the wide range of career possibilities that are available to them in the industry. Students learn that these roles are filled by people from a diverse range of backgrounds all with differing pathways to where they are now and hopefully feel inspired that they can do these jobs too!”




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Our goal is that all young people move successfully from education into employment. As a social enterprise, we are reliant on grants and corporate funding in order to work with the schools across Cambridgeshire. Even the smallest donation helps us to provide careers inspiration for every child. Click below to find out more about what your donation could do for young people in your community.