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Mr Heayns reports on the latest in our programme of visits for students aspiring to higher education.
In late February, I took a group of fifteen Year 9 students on a visit to Edge Hill as part of our partnership scheme with the university. The aim was to introduce students to aspects of university life.
We began with a general introduction into what a university education involves and how funding works – partly to ensure that potential future applicants aren’t immediately put off the thought of applying by worries about money. The issue of student loans has been in the news a lot recently and is a concern for many young people and their parents. Students were told about how the loan system works and were given three assurances: no money is required up front, some grants are available and extra money is always there to support students, should they need it.
After our talk, three current students at Edge Hill – first-year ‘freshers’ and third years – explained the skills a young person needs to do well at university and how these skills can be practised and developed now. They also helped our students to start thinking about what it is they might want to do in the future and the likely pathways to this role or career. We did a personality test to see what jobs may suit our personality: I came out as a barn owl, presumably because I am a hoot to be around. I am not sorry about making that joke.
Despite the blizzard-like conditions, we ventured on with our campus tour, seeing the range of facilities that Edge Hill has to offer – new lecture theatres, accommodation and a brand new library due to open in September. Although the weather was brutal, we did get to see the Edge Hill ‘beach’, apparently the perfect spot to sit and enjoy the summer sun (and possibly a cruel way to remind us that it was minus six at the time!).
We finished our day with a quiz about the day’s learning. Up against other schools, it was fantastic to see that we held our own and ultimately took home the silverware. Special thanks to Aaron Tennant for the team name – ‘Aspire to HE’!
Overall, this was a fantastic enrichment opportunity for our students – currently in Year 9 – helping them in the process of thinking seriously about life after Ridgeway, about possible future careers and about maximising their potential. There will be further opportunities to experience life at other universities – hopefully not when a beast from the east is pummelling Britain!
Finally, I should like to thank Edge Hill University for hosting us.
Ridgeway students recently took part in the regional heats of the Tomorrow’s Engineers robotics competition at the University of Chester Thornton Science Park campus, along with a number of schools from around the region. Our intrepid team of ten ‘STEM’ ambassadors from Year 7 to Year 9 were accompanied by Mr Cross and Miss Thomas on what was a fantastic day of competition and team challenges. ‘STEM’ refers to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
This is Mr Cross’s account of the day.
The theme for this year’s competition was the centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force in 1918. It involved solving a number of ‘seen’ challenges (for which teams prepared in advance) and an ‘unseen’ team challenge on the day. The ‘seen’ tasks included a robot challenge, collecting Lego parts and moving around an environment using pre-programmed solutions. Teams also faced a speed challenge in which a specially built robot was timed over a four-metre track against other entries.
Each team also had to give a presentation to Airbus representatives on how engineering can help to provide solutions to humanitarian problems, and also brief engineers of Airbus on how their robot solutions had been put together. Ridgeway won the individual team trophy for this on the day.
For the unseen task we had to split in two, with one team assembling a structure of their choice out of Lego and then briefing the other half of the team from behind a screen to produce the same model. The judges were very impressed with our solution, which was correctly completed way ahead of time, and with the responses from the Year 7 students, particularly Mohamad Jouma, who was able to articulate about the simplicity of the design and demonstrate a sound understanding of some basic design and engineering principles.
Although our team was not ultimately successful in getting through to the national final in Birmingham, we were able to come together as a determined and effective team and show just what Ridgeway High School students are capable of achieving. We now look forward to preparing for next year’s competition.