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There is a global need for STEM skills. By 2025 1.8 million more engineers will be needed in the UK. A figure which barely scratches the surface of how fundamental these skills will be in all modern roles.
To address this skill shortage the Government has a multi-faceted plan of which Defence plays a large role in developing STEM skills. Military engineers are uniquely placed to provide practical, hands on and engaging STEM experiences.
To find out more we sat down and talked to Staff Sergeant Frazer Stark of Defence Munitions Kineton who regularly uses the MTa STEM kit to develop these critical skills in cadets across the country.
The robustness, versatility, value for money and the ease with which our instructors can deploy them.
We can pick the bags of kit up and take them literally anywhere knowing that we can run an exciting session. Added to that the facilitator guides allow instructors to simply and easily understand how to run activities. This allows us to focus on the real learning rather than worrying about the nuances of the activity.
“It’s Easy to use, Easy to learn, Easy to deliver and very good value for money.”
Over the past 2 years we’ve used the MTa kits in nearly 200 events. What’s incredible is that none of it is broken. My biggest concern with the kit is that one of the younger kids we work with might try to eat it!
I mainly use the STEM Kit to develop skills within cadet units.
It’s perfect as the versatility allows me pick relevant activities based on the audience. I could have a group of 16yr olds from the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) for an hour who have never seen the kit before. With them I can run an exciting introduction to STEM session and introduce mechanical thinking skills.
Alternatively, I could have an older group of cadets with whom I’ve already run several sessions using the MTa STEM kit. For them I can advance their mechanical thinking skills with more complex activities and develop their team and leadership skills at the same time.
In both cases the sessions support the technical capabilities we teach which are vital to the cadets personal and career development.
The excitement, energy and willingness to engage from the cadets is incredible. The cadets talk about how they enjoy the practicality and interactivity of the activities as well as how it makes them think in new ways.
“The excitement, energy and willingness to engage from the cadets is incredible.”
I enjoy watching the cadets do Boxed In. On the surface it is a simple activity and the cadets are brimming with confidence and eager to get started. Once they get stuck in though they realise that there is a lot more complexity to it.
This activity introduces planning concepts within that complexity and so fosters calm thinking under pressure.
From a personal perspective I find it fascinating to see the different team dynamics and processes play out. It’s a simple task which teaches a valuable lesson.
As a unit we are engineers first and foremost so being technically minded and having good mechanical reasoning skills play a vital role in what we do.
With our specialism of working as ammunition technicians and explosive engineers these skills play a vital role in overcoming challenges in the field. We are often brought into complex situations where there is no manual. This makes us reliant on our ability to think and problem solve using STEM skills.
They think it’s brilliant. Specifically, they talk about how they can take one MTa STEM kit and go anywhere and run any STEM activity. Plus, they love how tough the kit is. It’s hard wearing and has survived trips up and down mountains, across the country and the barracks.
They also love how dynamic the kit is. We’ve used it with primary schools, secondary schools, colleges and even businesses who want to do some team building activities with us. Even the range of individuals we use it with is impressive, from autistic children to engineering students; the kit works for all.
It’s Easy to use, Easy to learn, Easy to deliver and very good value for money.
Funds are always tight but if you think about how regularly we use it the cost per event is currently sitting at about £8.75 and that will only decrease. For less than a tenner a session I’ll take that any day!