Tomorrow's designers & technologists supported by Dudgeon grant
A grant from the Dudgeon Community Fund has enabled Neatherd High School in Dereham, Norfolk to establish an out-of-hours Design School, On your Bike. The aim is to inspire students to embrace STEM education [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] as they consider their future career options.
The Design School runs from 3:30-5:30pm once a week, and groups of between 15 and 20 students, aged 12 to 16 years, undertake a practical STEM project which seeks to provide a solution to an identified problem. The Design School initiative started in September 2018, and, with each project structured to last for a half a school term, two projects have so far been completed.
On your Bike saw students working with representatives from local business Pauls Cycles to improve their skills in basic bicycle maintenance, gaining valuable skills in identifying parts of the bike to repair and maintain.
Students then went on to study micro controllers, using these to develop their own design of a bicycle light, with rapid prototyping being used to produce a casing for each light. WestCotec, a Dereham based business producing vehicle activated traffic signs, supported student progress and the development of their design ideas.
With support from Norfolk County Council, all the students who participated in the On your Bike project also had the opportunity to participate in road safety training, improving their awareness of road hazards.
Book Stands was a community design project inspired by Dereham Library's desire to identify bookstands which would help engage more readers in the library. Having been given that brief, students had to choose a genre of book for which they would design a stand. Initial design pieces were modelled using proto-card, and this was then taken into a CAD design software package before being sent to the laser cutter to be machined. The stands were then bent to shape using an industrial strip heater.
The stands are currently on display at Dereham Library, accompanied by each student's design paperwork.
The Design School initiative has been spearheaded by Jason Chapman, Head of Design Technology at Neatherd High School, who said: "It would have been impossible to fund this initiative from internal resources, so my colleagues and I are extremely grateful to the Dudgeon Community Fund for this grant. With some of the grant funding, the department has purchased a 3D printer which is proving invaluable in producing prototype models of students' designs. The first two projects involved 39 students, and enabled the School to form strong links with two external organisations and two local businesses. The third project, Light Your Night, is now underway; a total of 22 students spread across two groups are involved and the project is being supported by two external organisations."
Sonja Chirico Indrebø is the Power Plant Manager of the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm which provides the funding for the Dudgeon Community Fund.
She said: "With over 60 students already engaged in this highly practical initiative, I shall be very interested to see how many of them embark on a STEM career pathway as they move into their GCSE studies."