Black and Minority Ethnic pupils from schools in Sheffield worked to build bridges together at a special event held at the University of Sheffield on Wednesday 13 June, and got a taste of University life along the way.
Pupils from nine Sheffield schools worked in teams of eight, alongside student ambassadors, for the Build a Bridge University Challenge Day. As part of the day, pupils built their own two metre working models of bridges, made from paper tubes and connected in almost the same way as the real structures.
The event, designed to engage BME pupils with Higher Education and the possible career opportunities available to them, was organised by the University's Outreach & Access section in collaboration with representatives from Input National.
Visiting pupils from Years 9 to 11 were able to engage with student ambassadors who acted as role models, discussing their degree and career progression to date. The pupils were also helped by INPUT National, who directed teams in the production of their bridges and introduced pupils to the principles of engineering behind the creation of various bridges and structures such as the Millennium Wheel. Finished bridges were judged on the day by staff from the University and INPUT. The winning team, the ‘Sheffield Majors’, received HMV vouchers for their level of team work and the design of their bridge. All participating teams were awarded prizes and were able to take their completed structures away to display at their schools.
Julie Askew, Outreach Officer at the University of Sheffield, said:
“The University arranges a number of different workshops throughout the year for local school pupils, as part of the Building Bridges Project. The workshops that have been run to date have all been tremendous successes.”
“The Build a Bridge University Challenge Day was no exception. The event provided the perfect opportunity to raise young peoples´ awareness and aspirations of Higher Education, while having some fun at the same time. We were amazed by the level of communication and team work between students from different schools and by the high standard of the finished bridges.”
The project was set up with help from the Burngreave Study Support Consortium who helped to target pupils from a Black or Minority Ethnic background. Ian Clifford, Burngreave Study Support Consortium Manager, said:
“This has created a great opportunity for young people who would not normally have access to Higher Education. The project has raised the aspirations of the young people and made them feel less daunted and more comfortable about the prospect of a University Education.”
Jan Ramsden, a teacher at Hinde House School in Sheffield, said: “The day was extremely stimulating, educational and enjoyable for all involved. It was particularly impressive to see the level of cooperation and focus from the students from different schools.”
John Allen from Input National added: “The project provides a great opportunity for the target students to visit a university and work with students on a real engineering task. The main objective, however, is for the students to build confidence in the key skills of problem solving, working in teams with new people and developing communication techniques.”
The schools who took part in the event included: Abbeydale Grange, All Saints RC High School, Fir Vale Secondary School, High Storrs Secondary School, Hinde House Secondary School, King Ecgbert Secondary School, King Edward VII Secondary School, Parkwood High School and Silverdale Secondary School.
The winning team, the ‘Sheffield Majors’, consisted of:
Martica Russell – pupil, High Storrs School Sheffield
Julian Gosling – pupil, High Storrs School Sheffield
Chamin Khan – pupil, High Storrs School Sheffield
Fidel Lewis – pupil, Firvale School Sheffield
Shaniece Wilson – pupil, Firvale School Sheffield
Wasim Ditta – pupil, Hinde House School Sheffield
Shireen Siddique – student, University of Sheffield
Fancois Frederic – student, University of Sheffield