Sidero, Ireland’s software, cloud and digital transformation specialist, is bringing a fun and hands-on 10-week engineering programme to pupils in Ardkeenan National School, Co. Roscommon, in association with STEAM Education Ltd.
STEAM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Maths) is an initiative created to inspire children to love STEAM subjects, and increase their awareness of and interest in careers in these areas.
Sidero is introducing Ardkeenan’s 5th and 6th class pupils to the areas of environmental, mechanical, civil, electrical, and biomedical engineering during weekly interactive sessions. The immersive and collaborative Engineering-in-a-Box programme uses many recycled materials in fun activities with lesson plans provided by STEAM Education Ltd.
Exploring civil engineering, pupils were tasked with building bridges made of lollipop sticks that needed to be strong enough to hold a bottle of water. Delving into electrical engineering, the pupils tested LED lights and circuits to gauge the flow of electricity and experimented with floating boats to gain a better understanding of buoyancy, a key area of transport engineering.
With a fun and creative approach to biomedical engineering, pupils created cyborg hands out of foam fingers and looking more closely at environmental engineering, Sidero demonstrated filtration using water and tea leaves. For their final STEAM project, the pupils have the chance to put what they’ve learned into practice and make something of their choice – a train, boat, robot, or something entirely different.
The STEAM sessions come at a formative time for the pupils at Ardkeenan, as they prepare to transition into secondary school, where subjects like engineering are a feasible option for them.
STEAM Education’s ethos is rooted in inclusive and inspirational engagement, including practical, fun, challenging, and participatory methodologies – developed and delivered by and with relevant content and educational experts (including children themselves). The initiative follows a co-teaching model where real-life STEAM experts from industry and academia work with primary school teachers, using specially designed tools and content to encourage and inspire.
Alice D’Arcy, MD of STEAM Education, said: “Encouraging children to try these subjects in a fun way and engaging their creative and critical thinking brains at this age, with the support of real life engineers, is really positive and empowering – we are delighted that Sidero are so supportive of the children of Ardkeenan NS and the development of their future careers.”
Nicola Bishop, Engineer and Scrum Master, and Sidero lead for the STEAM initiative, said: “It’s so important to encourage an interest in STEAM subjects from a young age in an effort to narrow the technology skills gap across the board. It’s also vital to encourage more girls to pursue careers in these areas to tackle the gender imbalance in the industry. Programmes like this encourage all pupils to take the leap into the world of engineering and tech, but also shows girls that these are viable career options for them. I can see it’s giving them confidence to try new things – most girls wouldn’t have tried electrical circuits before, but they’re so enthusiastic.
“It’s clear that the pupils are learning how to think in a different way. Parents are telling me their kids are finding things in the recycling bin and building robots! It teaches kids that nothing creative is a bad idea; it could be a great idea that may not have worked the first time. That’s the beauty of engineering – if something doesn’t work the first time, then you go back and try again and make it better.
“Sidero is delighted to be involved in this worthwhile project and helping to nurture the next generation of technologists.”