Schools Activities Report - 2015


IMechE - Dorchester and Weymouth Area Schools Liaison Officer
September 2014 to August 2015

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

We take a three level approach based on our experiences over the 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, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).  Students are taken on day-trips to 'Explore @ Bristol' or 'Winchester Science Centre' where they learn by using all the hands on exhibitions and experiments.  Most schools also make 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 of Durlston Country Park and Studland Bay Reserves). This teaches students how to observe, understand and evaluate using a scientific approach.

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

Feedback from all students who attend these trips are collated and reviewed, a sample of which can be found on the Dorchester and Weymouth Area’s section of the IMechE ‘Near You’ website.  The student output can be truly amazing.  Their minds are open at this age to being really enthused and inspired.

At secondary school level Years 7 to 13 (11 to 18 years old) students are involved in college activities to enable them to experience resistant materials, engineering, graphics, electronics/control, textiles and food technology - the broadest sense of Technology.

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

The highlight of this year was the delivery of an IMechE Educational Advisory Group (EAG) funded 3D Printer, to link with the schools Computer Aided Design (CAD) system, Solidworks, previously provided by local industry donations.  This was delivered to Budmouth College at the end of August 2014 and has been set to work by the younger staff.

The printer was presented to the school by the Dorchester and Weymouth Area Chair, Dr Andrew Samways, and the Wessex Region Chair, Nick Schulkins MBE, who then toured the college facilities.  The presentation was covered by the local press (see below).

The staff are inspired and enthused by it, and have used it with all Design & Technology students from Year 7 through to Year 13 (11 to 18 years old (A level)).  The Head Teacher was impressed and we have lifted the status of Design and Technology within the College even higher.  1070 students have passed through and experienced the printer this year, and even more students have applied to take Design & Technology in the next academic year! (see below for more details).


The Design and Inventors Club meet every Wednesday during term time and is mainly Year 7s (11/12 years old).  They turn up every week and are very keen to create and manufacture items that inspire them on the night.  There have been around 20 students this year, with slightly more girls participating than boys.

The Design and Inventors Club also participated in a QinetiQ competition to investigate boat design parameters, to a given specification and drive motor.  We produced experimental model hull designs and then built a remote controlled model boat to our final design.  This was raced in a national race at Haslar hydrodynamics facility.  This was a great experience for our team.

We built a Greenpower Car in 2010/11 and are slowly working on a second lightweight version.

We have supported the Textiles and Food Technology area with materials and small items of equipment.

With funding from the IMechE Educational Advisory Group we procured a 3D printer for Budmouth College to evaluate, and see how it can be used to enthuse, inspire and introduce the concept of manufacturing to 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 evaluated this school year.

The 3D Printer has been used by 1070 students in D & T, broken down as below:

Year 7       256  )

                        )       resistant materials, engineering, graphics, electronics/control,

Year 8       267  )       textiles, food technology (6 subjects - all students Yrs 7, 8 & 9)

Year 9       210  )       (option year)

Year 10       90  )       students can opt for 1 or 2 of the 6 subjects above for Yr 10/11

Year 11       86  )

Year 12       91  )       students choosing to study 1 subject at A level - Yr 12 &13

Year 13       70  )


All of these students will have experienced, and most will have used the 3D printer, and to them this technology comes naturally.  The school has been very fortunate to obtain previous donations from local industry to purchase and support the Computer Aided Design (CAD) system, Solidworks (one of the main industry standards 3D CAD software packages) which the 3D printer integrates with seamlessly.

Provision of these items has allowed students to experience the industry standard design and prototyping, thus encouraging and lifting them to take these studies forward to A level.

A level students are also given speed interviews (with local industry support) to encourage them into Engineering, with many past students now on degree courses.


Broadmayne First School and Frome Valley CE VA First School took a 70-seat coach to “Explore @ Bristol” (see below) on 25 June 2015.  We left at 07.30, arrived at 10.15, stayed until 15.00 and arrived back at 17.30.  We took 48 Year 4s plus 8 adults.

We also took the Year 4s from Broadmayne First School to the “Durlston Country Park” (see below) for a Science Field Day on 26 March 2015.  We arrived at 10.00 and left at 14.15.  We took 24 Year 4s and 7 adults.

Piddle Valley CE First School, Puddletown CE First School and Cheselbourne Village School.  Piddle Valley took a mini-bus and two 7-seater cars to “Explore @ Bristol” (see below) on 16 June 2015.  We left at 08.15 and got back at 17.30.  We took 22 Year 4s plus 6 adults.

We also took the Year 4s from Piddle Valley CE First School to the “Kimmeridge on Jurassic Coast” (see below) for a Science Field Day on 15 July 2015.  We arrived at 10.00 and left at 14.00.  We took 22 Year 4s and 5 adults.

Puddletown CE First School went to the “Studland on Jurassic Coast” (see below) for a Science Field Day on 1 July 2015.  Arriving at 10.50 and leaving at 14.00.We took 26 Year 4s and 8 adults.

For the first time this year we expanded our contact with Portesham CE VA Primary School.  This is a small village school, rather isolated between the Weymouth and Bridport school areas.  They have 70 pupils and we took Years 3, 4, and 5 (7 to 10 years old) to the “Winchester Science Centre” (see below) on 30 January 2015 arriving at 11.00 leaving at 15.15.  We took 56 students and 15 adults.  It was particularly interesting to see how the younger ones benefited.

Portesham Primary School also visited 'Yeovilton Fleet Air Arm Museum' (see below) on 6 July 2015 taking 45 Years 3, 4 and 5 children with 8 adults by coach.  We left at 09.00 and where there from 10.15 leaving at 15.30.

In another first for this year we took 72 pupils from St Mary's Primary School, Bridport to 'Explore @ Bristol' (see below) on 1 May 2015.  Arriving at 10.35 and leaving at 15.00.  For this trip we found a double decker coach seating 85, it was expensive but this school wanted to take all their pupils on one trip and to use it as the focus for the whole school science work for the rest of the year!

We also forged a new link with Hazelbury Bryan Primary School.  They have been supported with materials, magnets and microscopes to enhance their old and broken items and have shown interest in a trip to a Science Centre or the hire of a mobile planetarium in the next academic year (2015/2016) which we are investigating the costs and viability of.

some 250 children have been on one or two trips and materials supplied will have supported many, many more.


Durlston Country Park, Kimmeridge and Studland Bay Reserves

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 have 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.

Also the Rangers have 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.

In addition for the first time this year we explored the Kimmeridge and Studland Bay Reserves.  They provide similar experiences with support from the National Trust.

'Explore @ Bristol' and 'Winchester Science Centre'

'Explore @ Bristol' and 'Winchester Science Centre' provide 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 (examples on near you website). Many students persuade their parents to take them back!  There is a huge amount of learning when guided by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers volunteers and Staff.  The planetarium is inspirational and the 20 minute workshops / demonstrations are often explosive!

Both centres have similar types of equipment, experiences and a planetarium.  Winchester access is easier being straight off the M3, whereas Bristol traffic can be very tedious.

Yeovilton Fleet Air Arm Museum

The museum arranged two workshops, one to assemble a glider and launch it from the pitching/rolling deck of a model aircraft carrier using the catapult.  During the second workshop they built a model launch rig to eject a model pilot into the air, measuring the launch height and recording results, then working out how to provide more power.

The first workshop took place underneath Concord 002! which we walked through later.

We then had a flight in a simulated helicopter landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier where we watched a simulated launch of an aircraft, and also a landing with very realistic film and sound.

This was a truly amazing day and we will encourage the other schools to go in the next academic year.


Outline Costs (2015 cost base)

The cost of an 'Explore @ Bristol' or 'Winchester Science Centre' trip are average about £650 for a coach, plus approximately £350 for entry fees; say £1000.

The cost of a “Durlston County Park” trip is approximately £250 for a coach plus around £150 for Ranger guides, say £400.

Therefore, the cost for both trips is thus around £1000 + £400 = £1400.

The budget requested for 2015/2016 by the Dorchester and Weymouth Area IMechE is £1150 towards this, and the staff, pupils and schools £250; to cover both visits.

For 2015/2016 we have requested an extra £1150 to expand this work into Hazelbury Bryan Primary school, ideally we aim to support small village schools, as the larger schools are better able to fund the activities.

We also supply materials and minor items to schools for Projects to enable the inspiration to continue during the daytime curriculum.  This year we have requested £950 to cover the schools and college above.  It is amazing what value £50 can make to update old, broken minor equipment and materials.  It lifts the teacher’s spirits as well as the students.  It does take effort to ensure that each purchase is focused on STEM themes though.

SLO time

This work takes around 300 hours of the SLO time each year, as it is necessary to go on the trips to enthuse the students and to be seen around the schools taking part and supporting activities.  Not to mention the personal satisfaction of being with such enthusiastic and keen young students and potential engineers and technologists of the future.

This has been an extremely busy year, making links with new schools and establishing their needs to fit in with their particular approach to the curriculum.

Next school year I plan to consolidate and further evaluate the work with the schools/college above, rather than add more schools.  I do have links with many other schools in the county through my other voluntary work, but want to ensure my time is most efficiently used.

Together with my other voluntary work, I attempt to keep this down to 1000 hours per year, but it's not easy.


Steve Stubbing

Schools Liaison Officer
Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Dorchester and Weymouth Area

15th July 2015

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