Cisco and STEMNET challenge school children to plan local Olympics and Paralympics

Cisco and STEMNET have set UK school children the challenge of designing their own Olympic or Paralympic event to boost technology and science skills.

School children across the country have been set the challenge of creating a plan for an Olympic or Paralympic event in their home town, as a part of a programme to increase skills in technology and science subjects.

In partnership with Cisco’s Out of the Blocks Series, STEMNET (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network) is asking 11-16 year olds to design full plans that cover stadium design, facilities, and even come up with ideas for the opening and closing ceremonies.

Kicking off this week and running until 15 May, the winner will receive £2,500, second place £1,000 and third £500. All winning teams win eight tickets to one of the 2012 London Olympics or Paralympics events.

Groups of between four-to-six students can enter, with the final eight schools being shortlisted for the Challenge Final on 6 July. The winning entry will be judged by Cisco, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, STEMNET, Buro Happold and Pearson.

Neil Crockett, managing director London 2012, of Cisco UK and Ireland said: “With the uptake of STEM subjects dropping year on year, it has never been more crucial to the future of the UK economy to address the shortcomings in ICT education and help schoolchildren and students to maximise their potential.

“It is the responsibility of big businesses and industry leaders to support government education schemes and inspire this generation – they are, after all, the future of our success.”

Kirsten Bodley, chief executive of STEMNET, said: “The aim is for students to experience STEM skills in practice and understand that science and technology doesn't just happen in the classroom, but is a hugely important and enthralling sector to be involved in.

“STEMNET hopes that initiatives like the STEM Challenges will help to inspire the next generation of great British STEM professionals."

Last year The UK’s Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) called on science and engineering businesses to run Faraday challenge days, which are designed to use practical challenges and interactive learning to showcase science, technology, engineering and maths-based careers to 12 and 13 year olds.

The IET also pledged to spend £500,000 on a campaign to attract more British school leavers into taking science and maths classes. According to the IET, 20% of migrant workers fill professional science jobs in the UK and one in four UK engineering businesses believed they would not be able to find British skilled recruits within the next five years.

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