School dinners have gone through many transformations over the years but none quite like this; St Helen’s Primary in Canning Town, London is aiming to use lunchtime to whet young people’s appetites for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers, as it sets out to 3D print pupils’ lunches this week.
If new research by The Big Bang Fair, the UK’s largest event aimed at inspiring young people into STEM, is anything to go on, pupils would very much prefer geometric fish & chips, and cauliflower cogs and gears to the usual fare. A study conducted into their opinions of the cutting edge technology found 71% of 11-16 year-olds think it’s crucial to have access to this kind of technology at school – not just in science labs and classrooms, but the school gym, playground and even the canteen, with 40% believing it will enable them to learn something while they eat.
The study into youngsters’ attitudes to 3D printing also revealed their open-mindedness and optimism about the vast possibilities this technology holds: one fifth (20%) believe we will all have 3D printers in our homes as the norm within 3-4 years, and two thirds (67%) of kids believe it will be the norm within 10 years.
And so this week, dinner ladies will be working alongside engineers to serve up a vision of the (possible) school dinners of the not-too-distant future.
GEOMETRIC FISH & CHIPS – Hexagonal beans, cod and potato
CAULIFLOWER COGS - Mechanical cogs of cauliflower purée
HUMMUS & GUACAMOLE LIZARD - Hummus exoskeleton and avocado scales
FIBONACCI SPIRAL SQUASH - Butternut squash Fibonacci spiral with tomato & olive oil
SPACE BROCCOLI - Three dimensional broccoli star
PI OF THE DAY - Fruit and yoghurt π
Interestingly, the majority (71%) believe it’s important to access cutting edge technology such as 3D printing as part of daily life at school, partly as it’d be them using the equipment or software in the future, but also because 41% believe making it part of school life is the fairest way for all children, regardless of their social, economic or personal circumstances to experience important technologies.
Claire O’Sullivan from St. Helen’s Primary School, commented: “We were delighted when The Big Bang Fair approached us to be part of the 3D printed school dinners project. Demonstrating STEM in this way is a fantastic opportunity to allow our pupils to see innovative technology first-hand and there is nothing that gets them more excited than bringing classroom learning to life.”
Beth Elgood, Director of Communications at EngineeringUK, organisers of The Big Bang Fair and Competition, said: “Our research and this trial show just how big an appetite there is amongst young people to experience new technologies. Indeed, this year’s UK Young Engineer of the Year, JoshMitchell, developed a flat-pack printer that he hopes will make 3D printing more accessible to everyone. Building on young people’s curiosity about how they might shape the world in the future and inspiring them to think about where their science, technology, engineering and maths studies might take them, is what The Big Bang Fair and Competition are all about.”
Brenda Yearsley, UK Schools and Education Development Manager, Global Social Innovation Team at Siemens, a long term supporter of The Fair added, “3D printing is fast becoming a mainstream technology but that makes it no less ground-breaking and exciting, with a vast number of applications across sectors, from medicine to motor sports, improving lives across the board and enabling STEM specialists to make ever bigger leaps and bounds in their fields. At Siemens we are investing £27million in a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that enables us to increase our fleet of 3D printing machines from 15 to 50 over the next five years, so to see The Big Bang Fair working with young people, which we look forward to having on our teams in years to come, is fantastic.”
For more information about The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair, please contact the press office on: 0207 234 9150 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org