Schools Activities -2014


IMechE - Dorchester and Weymouth Area Schools Liaison Officer
Septernber 2013 to August 2014

Introduction and Overview

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) is committed to inspiring young students and staff in schools and colleges to enter Engineering and Science careers.

In Dorset this work has been taken forward under the guidance of the Schools Liaison Officer (SLO) for some 20 years.

We take a three level approach based on our experience over these years.

Year 4 (8-9 years old) is the optimum age for inspiring young people’s minds and catching their imagination and interest in Science and Engineering.  They are taken on day-trips to 'Explore at Bristol', where they learn by using all the hands on machinery and experiments, and a field trip to the Jurassic Coast where the Rangers inspire them by discovering the natural wonders, and challenging them to think out how species have adapted and the environment has evolved (see below for details).

The feedback from each student is on the IMechE website and the outcome is amazing.  They are really enthused and inspired.

At Secondary level Years 7 and 8 (11 to 13 Years old) we are involved in school activities to enable them to experience design, product design, electronics, control, textiles and food technology - in the broadest sense of Technology.

At the top level we work to inspire the Staff in the Schools and College Design & Technology Departments with the possibilities for their students.

This year we have just taken delivery of an IMechE funded 3D Printer, to link with the previously provided Solidworks CAD. This was delivered to Budmouth College at the end of August and has been set to work.  The staff are inspired and enthused by it already, and can't wait to use it with their students.  The head teacher was impressed and we have lifted the status of Design and Technology within the College even higher.

The trips are jointly funded by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Schools, Parents and Pupils themselves.

Budmouth College

The Design and Inventors Club participated in a Qinetiq competition to investigate boat design parameters, to a given specification and motor.  We produced experimental model hull designs and then built a remote controlled model boat to our final design.  This was planned for a national race at Haslar hydrodynamics facility, and we won the 'Most Innovative Design' prize this year.  This was a great experience for our team.  The Club continued in the summer term, designing and building their own projects.

We built a Greenpower Car in 2010/11 and are still working on a second lightweight version for the 2014/15 race season.

The IMechE have procured a 3D printer for Budmouth College to evaluate, and see how it can be used to enthuse and inspire all areas of the D & T department: product design, graphics design, control, electronics, food technology and textiles.

The printer was delivered to school 27 August 2014 and has been set to work and will be evaluated over the next two terms, when a report will be issued for consideration by the Wessex Area.


Broadmayne First School and Frome Valley CE VA First School took a 70-seat coach to “Explore @ Bristol” (see below) on 19 June 2014.  We left at 08.00, arrived at 10.45, stay until 15.00 and arrived back at 17.45.  We took 46 Year 4s plus 10 adults.

We also took the Year 4s from Broadmayne First School to the “Durlston Country Park” (see below) for a Science Field Day on 3 April 2014.We arrived at 10.00 and left at 14.15.  We took 26 Year 4s and 7 adults.


Piddle Valley CE First School, Puddletown CE First School and Cheselbourne Village School took a 70-seat coach to “Explore @ Bristol” (see below) on 9 June 2014.  We left at 08.00 and got back at 18.20.  We took 57 Year 4s plus 10 adults.

We also took the Year 4s from Piddle Valley CE First School, Puddletown CE First School to the “Durlston Country Park” (see below) for a Science Field Day on10 July 2014.  We arrived at 10.50 and left at 14.00.We took 53 Year 4s and 8 adults.

A first this year we expanded the work into Portesham CE VA School.  This is a small village school, rather isolated between the Weymouth and Bridport school areas.  They have 46 pupils and we took Years 2, 3, 4, and 5 (7 to 10 years old) to the “Durlston Country Park” (see below) for a Science Field Day on 25 June 14 arriving at 10.30 until 13.40.  We took 41 students and 7 adults.  It was particularly interesting to  see how the younger ones benefited.



Outline Costs (2014 cost base)

The cost of an “Explore @ Bristol” trip is about £600 for a 56 seater coach, plus about £300 for entry fees; say £900.

The cost of a “Durlston County Park” trip is about £240 to £260 for a coach plus around £100 for Ranger guides, say £350.

So the cost for a both trips is thus about £900 + £350 = about £1250.

The budget requested for 2014/2015 is for IMechE Dorchester and Weymouth Area to pay £1000 towards this, and the staff, pupils and the schools £250; to cover both visits.

For 2014/2015 we have requested an extra £1000 to expand this work, ideally this will support small village schools, as the larger schools are better able to fund the activities.

We also supply materials to schools for Projects to enable the inspiration to continue during the daytime curriculum. This year we have requested £600 to cover the schools and college.

This work takes around 350 hours of the SLO time each year, as it is necessary to go on the trips to enthuse the young people and to be seen around the schools.



Durlston Country Park

Durlston Country Park provides a really excellent day that I strongly recommend.  The Rangers are really good at explaining how scientists work from the evidence around, to work out how the birds, fishes, animals and vegetation evolved and adapted in this area.  We then go outside into the local habitats to find examples and the Rangers explain why they were there, based on food-chains and adaptations to the environment.  Then they present the local bird population and show us models.  We can also see right into one of the nesting colonies over the cliffs, via a video camera set-up.  We go out onto the cliff tops and look down to see the species wheeling around below us.

This year we visited the new Durlston Castle 'Visitor Experience' with it's panoramic fly-over of the Jurassic Coast and cliffs, and 'The Rock' experiential room.

New in 2013 the Rangers had collected an amazing collection of moths, the night before, and introduced the children close up to ten or so different types, which they could have, very carefully, perched on their fingers.

Explore @ Bristol

“Explore @ Bristol” provides young people with a wonderful day of totally hands on experience of many aspects of Science and Engineering.  They are always enthused and inspired as you can see from the Thank You letters provided on the IMechE website. Many students persuade their parents to take them back!  There is a huge amount of learning when guided by IMechE and Staff.  The planetarium is inspirational and the 20 minute demonstrations are often explosive!


Steve Stubbing
Schools Liaison Officer
IMechE Dorchester and Weymouth Area

3rd September 2014

© 2011 Institution of Mechanical Engineers. IMechE is a registered charity in England and Wales number 206882