Sunderland’s bid to turn scouts into the engineers of the future

The First Ovingham Scout Group Jack Wallace making an electronic game in a session organised by the University of Sunderland Computing, Engineering and Technology Department, taking place at the Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's in a unique new partnership.

The First Ovingham Scout Group Jack Wallace making an electronic game in a session organised by the University of Sunderland Computing, Engineering and Technology Department, taking place at the Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's in a unique new partnership.

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THE University of Sunderland has piloted a unique scheme to inspire scouts to get on the road to engineering.

Fifteen members of the First Ovingham Scout Group are taking part in sessions organised by the Wearside university’s computing, engineering and technology department, taking place at the Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s, as well as at their base camp in Northumberland.

Academics at the university have been putting the youngsters through their paces via a range of activities and games, which include destroying mobile phones to see what they are made up of and learning electrical theory by building circuits to create a torch, automatic nightlight and an electronic game.

There has also been some theory work, put together in comic form, to make the sessions fun and get the youngsters, aged between 10 and 15, fired up about engineering.

This project gives them an insight into how devices and appliances which impact on our everyday lives work and offers practical hands-on experience of engineering and technology.

Once they’ve completed the sessions, the scouts will be awarded with their activity badge, sponsored by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, which demonstrates their progress in the field of engineering. They’ll also receive hooded tops with the University of Sunderland logos.

This is the first time in the region a partnership between the scouts and a university has been forged and it is hoped that the success of the programme can eventually be rolled out to scout groups across the North East.

Dr Alastair Irons, Head of Department of Computing, Engineering and Technology, said: “We hope to inspire, inform and enthuse the younger generation, from as early as Year 6 to develop an interest in engineering and technology. The skills that can be learned and developed through this partnership are exactly the sort of skills businesses and universities will be looking for.

“We’re delighted at the success of the sessions so far, the scouts have been so excited, engaged and of course that little bit competitive with each other, it’s great to see them so passionate about engineering and technology.”

Ovingham scout leader, Johnathan Howarth, said: “University of Sunderland has given the scouts a superb opportunity to discover the world or electricity, electronics and engineering.All the scouts have been fascinated by the subject and particularly enjoyed dismantling old mobile phones and building simple night lights.”