The Royal Academy of Engineering has recognised the value of delivering Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) learning through the lens of food and farming by funding the NFU’s brand new STEM education project.
The funding, which totals £29,125, will allow the NFU Education team to deliver five interactive afterschool club session throughout the autumn term, where children will get a taste of life as an agricultural engineer.
The clubs, called Anytime, Anywhere Engineers, will be hosted once a week over five weeks. These will include an introduction to different areas of agricultural engineering, interactive activities for the whole family, virtual tours and a Q&A with an engineering expert. Each session will be available to watch live or to stream after the broadcast.
As well as this, the funding will be used to develop the NFU’s bank of 3D tours to included engineering workspaces, such as Harper Adams University and the Small Robot Company, alongside its current farm tours.
This project is the latest NFU STEM resource to be freely available, alongside the Farmvention competition, Farming STEMterprise programme and Science Farm Live lessons.
NFU President Minette Batters said: “There is a skills gap within our society across all STEM roles and the lack of young people taking up engineering courses and jobs is quite stark.
“Yet this is such an exciting and important time for the engineering industry which plays a crucial role within food production, and all aspects of our society, especially as the country looks to build greener infrastructure and technologies to help realise its net zero ambition.
“But at the moment there are so many children who don’t get enough exposure to the opportunities in engineering, and whose schools don’t have the opportunity to explore the topic in much detail or take classes on trips to science and engineering museums. That’s why this funding is so important – so we can help inspire the next generation of engineers both within and outside of agriculture.
“Addressing this skills gap is going to be key for the future of our country and teaching STEM through the lens of food and farming is a great way to do it. Not only does it really ignite children’s passion for these subjects but it’s completely relevant and translatable to their learning as every aspect of STEM is used on farms.
“The success of our previous NFU Education projects have shown how beneficial learning in the context of farming can be. In March more than 223,000 students signed up for our Science Farm Live lessons and this recognition by the Royal Academy of Engineering is a further testament to the benefits of using agriculture to teach these ever important topics.
“Most importantly, as we demonstrate in our Levelling up rural Britain report, teaching in this way can help bridge the skills gap we are seeing and create a new generation of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians, whatever industry they follow a career in.”