Over 40 primary schools take part in county STEM challenge final

Primary school students from across Worcestershire took part in the Primary STEM challenge final to showcase their innovative thinking.

After delivering a hybrid STEM challenge in 2021, the 2022 Worcestershire Primary STEM challenge brought back the physical final challenge environment.

The challenge the school students had to overcome this year was to design and build a model robotic system to sort recycling. This was linked to the EnviroSort Recycling Plant in Norton near Worcester which processes all of the recycling from Worcestershire and Herefordshire. The main issue at the Plant is contamination of the recycling such as soft plastics.

Finalists had to therefore design a system that detected and removed the contaminant whilst also separating 2 different types of metal.

67 schools from across Worcestershire were invited to the final event, however only 42 schools could attend the final hosted at Yamazaki Mazak’s UK Headquarters in Worcester.

Previously in 2019, the Primary STEM Challenge final was held at Sixways Stadium and saw 38 schools attend to create their solutions. Throughout the 2022 Worcestershire Primary STEM challenge over 2500 students took part.

Congratulations to the winning teams from Nunnery Wood Primary School and Alvechurch CofE Middle School. There were also highly commended runners up and a big well done to Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Primary School and Upton upon Severn CofE Primary School for their efforts.

Whilst the judges deliberated, the students were given a unique opportunity to visit the Mazak European Technology Centre. This was a fantastic opportunity, allowing them to get up close and even operate some of the CNC machines that Mazak make. It was clear from the feedback that this aspect of the day was a real highlight for the students.

The judges enjoyed the final sharing high praise for the event, “It is so lovely to see such inquisitive minds with so much potential” and “It is very inspiring to know that you may have influenced a young person to pursue a future career in a STEM discipline”.

The team would also like to thank the many judges from local businesses and private organisations who donated their time to help judge the final and ensure the event was a success.

The judges for the final were, Max Jones from Yamazaki Mazak UK, Ken Taylor from the Children’s Air Ambulance Service, Sylvia Berlinska from Southco Manufacturing UK, Beth Clayton and Russell Humphries from Amcor, Lara Lockley from Malvern Panalytical, Tracey Mirrelson from QinetiQ and Amy Bloom and Lorna James from STEM Ambassadors.

Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “I thoroughly enjoyed getting to be involved in the final of this year’s Primary STEM challenge. Many congratulations to the winners and runners up, but also well done to all the finalists for their hard work.

“This programme is just one of the ways the Worcestershire LEP and partners are working to create the county’s future workforce by inspiring young people across Worcestershire to consider STEM careers.”

Sarah Lalor from STEMworks UK, said: “It was fantastic to be finally back to hosting a face-to-face final again. Events like these have such a positive impact on all of those involved and show just how important it is to connect schools with local businesses and inspire children from an early age.

“Many thanks to Mazak for allowing us to hold the final at their European Headquarters in Worcester.”

Chris Morris, Human Resources Manager for Yamazaki Mazak UK, added: “It was an absolute pleasure to host this event at Mazak and to see so many bright, young people enthusiastic about STEM. We take our role of inspiring the next generation very seriously as we know how important it is to ensure that local talent continues to be nurtured.

“The future looks bright.”

Looking ahead to the next academic year, the Worcestershire Primary STEM challenge already has 39 schools registered for the competition to help inspire the next wave of students around STEM.

The Primary STEM challenge competition is run by STEMworks UK – a not for profit company, in partnership with Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, Worcestershire County Council and District Councils across the county.

For more information on the STEM challenge programmes and the other workshops delivered by STEMworks, visit the STEMworks website on the link here. – https://www.stemworks.co.uk/wordpress/

To learn more about the work taking place across Worcestershire to help create the county’s future workforce, please visit the Skills4Worcestershire website. – https://www.skills4worcestershire.co.uk/


Pictured: Winners and runners up from the 2022 Primary STEM challenge final.