TWI invite Year 5 students to be Defect Detectives for the day!

Year 5 students from Fulbourn Primary School were invited to a STEM activity day with TWI to discover how they use robotics to examine welded joints and detect defects. The event also aimed to show STEM subjects in a new light as part of the Cambridge LaunchPad programme, which is managed by Form the Future CIC.

Adam Cook, Year 5 teacher at Fulbourn Primary School, said

“The day offers an amazing opportunity for our students to realise what genuine engineering involves. Talking to the ambassadors, they are excited to become the next generation of engineers and see this as a career they can aspire to. They have learnt the power of effective teamwork and that things don’t always work first time around.”

One of the main activities at TWI is the essential process of inspecting the weld lines in the build of a ship’s hull. Defects or flaws can occur in the joint line where two pieces of steel or aluminium have been welded together, and give ship fabricators and ship operators the reassurance that their vessel is safe to sail.

Anna Aldred, STEM Outreach and Cambridge LaunchPad Project Manager from Form the Future CIC, said

“TWI have put together an amazing team of early career engineers. It’s great to see people just starting out in the field already inspiring the next generation.”

The students were challenged to use a LEGO Mindstorms Kit to build, programme and test a mobile robot that could successfully follow a makeshift weld line and find different defects on it, marked by red spots. The winners were Team Lightning Bolt, who will attend a prize trip that will take place in the summer, alongside Year 4–6 students from other schools and colleges that are taking part in Cambridge LaunchPad.

Year 5 student at Fulbourn Primary School, said

“I’m having a really good day! The part I have enjoyed most is being able to persevere when things in our team were not working. It has been challenging because we had to adapt our design through trial and error as we went along. I really like that boys and girls can work together because STEM is for everyone and today is definitely making me think more about STEM.”

By introducing students to inspiring role models who are passionate about their careers and break gender stereotypes, they will be able to see that certain industries, like engineering and technology, can be accessible and offer a diverse range of job opportunities.

Gabriela Gallegos Garrido, Research Fellow at London South Bank Innovation Centre based at TWI, said

“What really made my day is the message we got across to the kids: that STEM is fun, being an engineer is fun, interesting and useful, but overall, that STEM is for everyone… including girls.”

If you’re interested in being involved with Cambridge LaunchPad next year, please get in touch with Anna, our STEM Outreach Project Manager at for more information.

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