On Thursday 7 December, ten Year 8 and Year 9 pupils were selected to attend the TeenTech Live event At the All Nations Centre in Cardiff. TeenTech is a national competition requiring pupils to work in teams of up to three to develop and create a product which addresses today's current problems within a range of fields, from safety to health and education, and transport and design. The task requires teamwork, innovation and creativity. TeenTech Live aims to give participants an insight into different businesses and challenges all while inspiring them to generate new ideas that approach current issues. It also allows those who take part to work with STEM Ambassadors and other experts in their fields to discuss their ideas.
The day began with a Q&A session in the main hall where everyone was encouraged to use voting buttons to share their level of interest in science, engineering and technology, hosted by the founder of TeenTech, Maggie Philbin. During this session, our pupils enthusiastically participated in giving their answers and were also encouraged to write up their ideas for their TeenTech projects on post-its which were then shared on an ‘ideas’ wall in the main room. The day then proceeded to have three separate hour-long sessions called ‘The Insight Zone’, ‘The Challenge Zone’ and ‘The Innovation Zone’.
In the insight zone, our girls were treated to small group sessions with different exhibitors, who discussed potential career paths such as engineering in designing hospital wards, with staff from the NHS, to working with semi-conductors and electrically-conducting play-doh, to gaining an insight into robotics, coastal management and encryption with Bletchley Park. Our pupils engaged actively and were inspired to consider their careers from many different perspectives. We then moved onto the challenge zone, where a team from Oracle talked about the use of AI in interpreting British Sign Language, and our girls learnt the alphabet and then deciphered various sentences, using AI-generated interpretation of British Sign Language. This was followed by a session with BAE Systems where pupils worked in teams to create a boat that would not sink under continuing additional weights. The energy and enthusiasm presented by the girls in this challenge were remarkable and wonderful to see! After this competition, pupils then were able to talk to the people from BAE about their career pathways and how they came to work at BAE. It was fascinating to see how apprenticeships, degrees, internships and graduate training schemes all played a role here, as well as the breadth of career interest represented.
The last session of the day provided participants with the opportunity to work in pairs to continue to develop their projects and innovative ideas for their entry to TeenTech for March 2024. Two of our pupils were then selected from our table to present to the rest of the schools, who were in attendance, about their idea. This involved creating a slogan, developing a logo and beginning to consider what sources of information would be useful in carrying out the research to develop the product further.
At the end of the day, three of our teams received recognition for their work. One received a special mention for their innovative idea which they put on the ideas wall, the second team was placed in the final six for 'Best Idea of the Day' and the third team received certificates for MSJ for their presentation during the innovation session. All in all, this was a great day out, our pupils rose to the occasion, were involved and excited about the activities they were presented with and came away full of new ideas on how to take their TeenTech projects forward – well done to all the pupils!
Written by Mrs Whitmore, Teacher of Biology & Head of STEAM