Cambridge LaunchPad reaches new heights after a very successful year

The 2017-18 academic year saw the start of a new and exciting era for the Cambridge LaunchPad programme. Building on the strong foundations laid down by founders, Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, Form the Future took on management of Cambridge LaunchPad in the Spring of 2017. Since then, we have been busy partnering school students from across Cambridgeshire with leading employers to inspire, educate and enthuse young people about STEM.

Over the year, 21 STEM industry partners delivered 25 Project Days, reaching over 6,300 students between the ages of 8 and 18, an increase of over 6000 students from 2016. With 97% of students saying they now find STEM subjects more fun or interesting and 91% of students enjoying the hands-on activities with industry professionals.

Parents have been very enthusiastic about the opportunities that Cambridge LaunchPad gives their children. Rachel King, mother of Isla, 9, from Fen Ditton Primary School said:

“Isla absolutely loved her day at Marshall. She was so much more inspired than after the usual school trip.”

During these Project Days, the students are encouraged to develop and improve the Cambridge LaunchPad core skills. These are qualities that they will use throughout their everyday lives, such as communication, teamwork, problem solving and innovation. The students that display these attributes or show improvement throughout the day are chosen to attend our annual award ceremonies to celebrate their personal development.

Molly Askham, STEM outreach events assistant at Form the Future said:

‘It has been great to celebrate the achievements of all our students and see how enthusiastic they are to take in part Cambridge LaunchPad again next year. The 2017-18 programme has been a huge success and it is so good to see that these days with our industry partners, are making a positive difference to how young people view and interact with STEM.”

The Stars awards ceremony for Year 4-6 students was held at The Babraham Institute, where the winners, parents, teachers and industry partners celebrated their success. The proceedings were kicked off by Michael Hinton, Web and Outreach Officer at the Babraham Institute, who shared his enthusiasm for STEM and how the work at the Babraham Institute helps people live longer and healthier lives. The winning students were then presented with their certificates and goodie bags and invited to enjoy a picnic and fun hands-on activities.

Catherine Condie, PR Manager at TWI said:

‘The great thing about today’s LaunchPad celebration was being able to interest so many more young people with our Lego robotics challenge – they came up with fabulous new ideas to code dancing and singing robots.’

As the Cambridge LaunchPad programme rewards through experiences, rather than monetary prizes, the Stars winners were invited to attend an educational prize trip to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, where they got the chance to take part in two activities. ‘Tiger Trackers’ taught how to identify individual tigers, find tracks and understand what these might tell conservationists, and ‘Habitats and Adaptations’ where they learnt how animals change and evolve to suit their surroundings and the variation that can occur within a species.

Jesus College hosted our Innovators and Scholars awards ceremony for Year 7-12 students, with a warm welcome given by President, Dr Stephen Siklos. After the prizegiving, the students, parents and teachers were given the opportunity to meet many of our industry partners in a careers carousel. In addition to learning more about what each company do, the students were able to learn about the diverse range of careers available to them with in STEM subjects and the different pathways they can take to get there. 45 Year 9 students said that they would be planning on choosing triple science, computing or engineering at GCSE after taking part in Cambridge LaunchPad!

The Innovators winners have the exciting opportunity to visit Bletchley Park in September for their prize trip. This year’s Scholars winners took part in an exclusive trip to the Houses Parliament where they were able to meet Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner and South Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer. They were also able to speak with Baroness Susan Garden, who is keen to improve education and reduce skills shortages across the UK and Baroness Manzil Uddin, who as the first female Muslim MP in the House of Lords, is passionate about increasing diversity and providing opportunities to people from all backgrounds.

Joe Cary, a Sixth Form student at Comberton Sixth.

“We were hugely privileged to be able to talk to MPs, Peers and Advisors who engaged in active conversation and debate with us. The sessions provided us with a valuable insight into the inner workings of the government, as well as the opportunity to debate current issues with our peers.”

We are so pleased that we have been able to work with so many students across Cambridgeshire and are very grateful for the support of all our industry partners. We would especially like to acknowledge the Founding Partners Arm, Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, Schlumbergerand TTP Group.

If you want to inspire the next generation in our STEM outreach programme, whether as a business that wishes to become an industry partner or a school who wishes to get their students involved, please contact us at cambridge-launchpad@formthefuture.org.uk.

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