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Greenpower: preparing and inspiring young people about STEM, Sustainability and Engineering

At the Careers & Enterprise Company – we love to celebrate firsts.

We are delighted that the first ever electric car race to shut down a city – in this case Hull – has been led by young people and the fantastic charity Greenpower.

Why I love Greenpower

Greenpower is a UK based charity that gets young people excited about STEM through hands on experience building and racing electric vehicles.

The organisation has been operating for 20 years this year and is educating a future workforce on sustainable engineering. It teaches skills of design and technology as well as teamwork and creativity.

The vehicles that were raced this this weekend were built by young people aged 11-25 years.

The challenge was that cars had to complete the entire course on one charged battery.

Initiatives like this are the perfect example of best-practice careers education.

Because they are engaging.

Motorsports is an exciting topic for a lot of young people. The thrill of the Hull street race is that these young participants know that their creativity, teamwork and engineering skills have made it happen.

All student teams have been paired with employee volunteers from local businesses who spend time helping the team design and build their car and provide valuable insights into a STEM career. These include brilliant employers like Siemens, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, Solid Edge and Ford.

Fun and inclusive

I had the opportunity to try out one of the Greenpower cars at Sirius Academy in Hull. I can comment from personal experience that the cars go fast!

I have seen many teams doing fantastic things through Greenpower – achieving more than they ever expected.

I was recently told about a team put together by the University of Hull Schools and Colleges Liaison Service – which works in partnership with Barnardo’s Hull Young Carers and Sibling Support Service.  Each of the 10 young people, aged between 11 – 16, have caring responsibilities for a family member.

16 year-old Mark said, “I got involved with the Greenpower project because I have always been interested in engineering. When I was invited to take part, I said yes immediately. I was hoping to learn about what tools and car parts are and what they are used for as well as scientific reasons for why the car might or might not work”.

Harvey (14) said, “My team’s biggest strengths were teamwork. We all had to work together to design our car. We all had different ideas but we had to find a way to include them all. We worked together to build the car”.

Their team name was Xtreme Spark, and they put the car together in three days – and painted the panels and fundraised for extra equipment.

The group were mentored by Brian Houston, an Academic Specialist in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Hull.

Proven impact

Greenpower teaches young people things they will cherish for life.

From mentoring and teamwork skills, to technical STEM skills.

A young lady I met at a recent Greenpower event told me that she had always been confident she could lead a team ‘now she knew she could also build cars’.

More than 10,000 students take part in Greenpower programs each year, from primary school age through to university. Within this group, there is a significant increase in the intention to study STEM subjects[1].

There is an 80% increase in young peoples’ interest in pursuing an apprenticeship in engineering and a 55% increase in young peoples’ interest in pursuing opportunities or studies in areas involving maths and physics.

A large proportion of their participants are female (often close to half), bucking the trend of underrepresentation of women in this area.

I am delighted that the Careers & Enterprise Company has played a part in support this fantastic organisation and the huge impact it is having on our young people and future workforce.

Why not Give An Hour?

 

Resources:

You can view this short video to see how a Project Blyth team got on at the International Kit Car Final in October.