Low carbon challenge at Northampton College to 'Ignite The Spark' in scientists and engineers of the future

Northampton College, Booth Lane.
Northampton College, Booth Lane.

Schools from across Northamptonshire will go head-to-head to compete in a ‘low carbon challenge’ aimed at inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.

'The Big Rig’ will be held as part of Northampton College’s ongoing ‘Igniting The Spark’ campaign – a drive to encourage young people to consider courses in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.

The event, to be held on April 24 and 25, will see teams of eight Year 10 and 11 pupils competing against other local secondary schools to install a solar powered water system on a large scaffolding platform at the college’s Booth Lane campus.

The challenge will consist of a mixture of practical and theoretical sessions linked to the curriculum, with a strong focus on health and safety. Teams will be judged on a range of set criteria including how well they understand and plan the project, economical use of materials, design of a rain water collection system, waste management process and how effective they are as a team.

Hands-on activities will enhance pupils’ problem solving skills and improve communication team-working and leadership skills. At the end of the session, tutors will provide feedback and pupils will be encouraged to reflect on their group experiences. Daily winners will then compete in a final on Friday, April 27.

Patrick Leavey, deputy principal at Northampton College, said: “We hope ‘The Big Rig’ will mark a renewed interest in, and commitment to, the development of science, engineering and technology as a career for young people in Northamptonshire.

“There is a skills gap in these industries, representing an opportunity for young people to step in and bring their own ideas and thinking to the workplace. We want to create a future workforce capable of thinking for themselves, solving problems quickly and efficiently and using technology to create innovative new ways of doing business.”

The session follows on from two previous ‘Igniting The Spark’ workshops held in conjunction with the UK Space academy, which has seen students from seven Northamptonshire schools take a voyage of discovery to unearth the secrets of the solar system and find out more about the science of space.

Northampton College has recently revealed its proposal for a £4.75million Advanced Construction Engineering (ACE) Centre at Booth Lane, which will help train the next generation of construction industry professionals including builders, plumbers, carpenters and decorators and teach pioneering new techniques aimed at equipping future workers with the very latest skills.

Alongside courses which focus on craft skills there will also be courses at Level 3 for those looking for supervisory, technician or management careers in the sector, such as in Civil Engineering, Building Services Engineering, or Project Management.

Building work on the centre, which will include a revolutionary ‘Digital Lab’ featuring a Virtual Reality classroom, 3D printing facilities and industry-standard workshop equipment, is scheduled to get underway next summer.