Over the last year BEAR Scotland has engaged with over 4,000 school pupils and teachers through its education outreach programme. Educational materials have been produced, online sessions have been delivered, and BEAR has worked with schools to develop engineering activities and challenges for the curriculum.
A package of new materials has been produced for schools as part of the BEAR Cubs and BEAR Academy programmes. This has been developed to show the next generation the range and diversity of engineering-related jobs and skills, and to showcase the work that BEAR Scotland does to manage and maintain trunk roads and bridges.
BEAR is also delivering online sessions to primary and secondary schools across the country, in partnership with Education Scotland as part of the delivery team for the Developing the Young Workforce Live programme. Each session comprises a 50-minute live, interactive, online presentation and discussion, and this is followed up in class with an engineering challenge.
The BEAR Builder Challenge has been specially designed for upper primary schools. This is a whole class activity where, using practical skills like cutting, folding, and constructing, the pupils all work together to create a model polar bear.
Working with the Engineering Development Trust (EDT), BEAR has helped S1 and S2 pupils to understand the importance of the circular economy. Pupils from Earlston High School, Falkirk High School and Gracemount High School successfully worked through the Industrial Cadets Challenger programme by taking part in a careers Q&A with BEAR staff and completing challenges based on designing a more sustainable lighting appliance and more sustainable ways to monitor the trunk road network.
Chaz Watson from the Engineering Development Trust said: “We are delighted to offer this opportunity to young people in Scotland, and to be able to reach schools located in different parts of the country. This Industrial Cadets Challenger experience has been incredibly valuable for participating students to develop soft skills and project work experience needed for future STEM jobs.
“We want to thank BEAR Scotland for supporting these schools, and for not only providing insight into STEM industry but also the different entry paths students can take to begin a STEM career. “
As well as delivering directly to school pupils, BEAR has also held several successful teacher sessions – effectively ‘teaching the teacher’, increasing their knowledge and understanding of engineering and trunk roads, so that they feel better equipped to deliver these STEM activities in the school curriculum.
BEAR is working with James Young High School in Livingston to develop a new Engineering Science and Technology course for their S3-S6 pupils, and a partnership has been established with Queensferry High School, working with their technology department to help develop their STEM Academy and provide “real life” challenges that can be incorporated into the curriculum.
This year has also seen BEAR continue to provide presentations, work placements and sponsorship to students at higher and further education institutions, including Edinburgh Napier University, Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh College.
Elaine Barrie, BEAR Scotland’s Customer Care Officer responsible for the education programme, commented: “The constraints imposed by COVID-19 restrictions have actually provided an opportunity to reach out virtually to schools across the country, resulting in more engagement than would have been possible with face-to-face visits. Multiple schools can participate in each session, helping to raise the profile of engineering and other roads careers and spread the word about BEAR Scotland’s work. We’re excited to see the results!”