As students settle into the new school year, third- and fourth-class pupils and their teachers are encouraged to explore the world of engineering by taking part in the STEPS Young Engineers Award.
Now in its third year, the STEPS Young Engineers Award encourages students to develop creative engineering projects that could help to improve their local community. The award is one of four primary and post primary student engineering initiatives coordinated by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme – funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Department of Education and Skills and industry leaders ARUP, ESB, Intel and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).
Participation in the primary school competition has doubled since its inaugural year, with over 200 schools submitting over 600 entries into last year’s competition. In May, students from Arles National School, Co. Laois were crowned overall champions for their ‘Let’s All Play Together’ project entry which sought to develop an inclusive playground where all children could play together, having noticed that children in wheelchairs have no swings or playground equipment in their local area.
Third- and fourth-class teachers are now encouraged to register online from 2 – 27 September to take part in this year’s competition. Teachers will be provided with resources for classroom use, including a teacher’s guide and engineering project book for students. A series of webinars will also be held for teachers to help guide them through the competition. Teachers are also encouraged to invite local engineers, or sign up for a STEPS Volunteer Engineer, to visit their classrooms either in person or virtually to gain an understanding of the role of engineers in their communities and get feedback on their projects. The STEPS Young Engineers Award also meets the criteria to be included within Step 3 of Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Science and Maths Awards.
Encouraging teachers to inspire students in the classroom, Caroline Spillane, Director General of Engineers Ireland said: “Engineers play a critical role in shaping the world around us and play an important role in addressing some of society’s biggest challenges by providing creative and sustainable solutions.
“Many of Ireland’s future engineering leaders are currently seated in primary schools across the country. We must inspire these students to find out more about the countless opportunities a career in engineering offers and participation in the STEPS Young Engineers Award is a fantastic way in which to engage our future engineering talent. The competition has achieved a number of positive results to date with over 50% of students noting that the competition had made them more interested in becoming an engineer, while 90% of teachers noted that their participation had a positive effect on their own confidence and ability to teach engineering to their students,” Ms Spillane added.
Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland, commented: “SFI are proud to support the STEPS Young Engineers Award. Thank you to the teachers and volunteer engineers who take part and spark a curiosity in students during these formative years that could end up being a lifelong interest or career choice for them. We encourage third- and fourth-class teachers to participate in this year’s competition and look forward to reviewing the students’ creative and innovative project entries.”
For more information on the STEPS Young Engineers Award, visit: https://www.engineersireland.ie/Schools/Get-involved/Young-Engineers-Award