Watt Women Primary Outreach

Updated: Oct 3, 2020

In February, the Watt Women society from Heriot-Watt University organised and led 4 insight days on engineering and science topics to pupils at Currie primary school. The first session with pupils aged 7 to 8 explained solid, liquids and gases and was expertly led by president Emily Mason. The pupils explored how different states reacted when in enclosed spaces and gained insight from the 7 society volunteers from across the engineering and science subjects at Heriot-Watt.

The following two sessions for primary 4 (ages 8 to 9) and primary 6 pupils (aged 10-11) explored how engineering has transformed technology throughout history. These had a focus firstly on future transport solutions and secondly on advances in prosthetic and robotic technology. They were lead by vice president Juliette Goddard.

Although struggled when shown the ancient technology of a floppy disk..."is that an iPad?"

The closing quiz highlighted to the volunteers how aware the young students are of the technologically advanced world around us. In particular the physical changes in mobile phones to the dramatic graphical advances in mobile gaming, from Snake to modern network games, only over the past 20 years. Moreover, the students were making interesting comments on modern technologies such as 3D printing and touch sensitive prosthetic hands. Although they struggled when shown the ancient technology of a floppy disk, one of the students asking "is that an iPad?".

During the third session to the primary 7 classes, a hydraulically controlled robotic arm demonstrated the power of pressure-driven devices and how technology does not always need to incorporate complicated electronic systems to work. It was an exciting challenge to share the knowledge gained through courses at university in an engaging way to introduce the world of science and engineering to primary pupils.

The pupils enjoyed giving each other high fives with their hand-made robot hand! The challenge resulted in 3 engaging, insightful sessions for both the pupils and also the students who ran the sessions.

In our final outreach session, we were joined by Liza and Callum from the Robotics Society and we were able to show how scientists and engineers use light in various different applications. Rosie Mulligan kicked off the session explaining how astronomers discover what elements a star is made from by studying the light spectrum emitted from the star. The kids used the cardboard spectroscopes to find that their torches all emitted different kinds of light.

In the second half of the session, Liza and Callum demonstrated the light-following robot from one of their robotics projects and the activity using the LED microbit games proved popular. The pupils asked all sorts of questions from why we chose to study the subject that we do to what was the biggest robot we had ever made.

These sessions are possible thanks to the student members of the Watt Women society, the support of the school of EPS at Heriot-Watt university and our affiliated partners Equate Scotland and the Women in Engineering Society (WES).

Interested in getting in touch to volunteer for the next session or organise a session with us for your students? Join or contact us here - Watt Women Society

Written by Juliette Goddard on Linkedin


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