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Cobham-Ultra partners with the 1851 Trust’s STEMCrew school’s roadshows

The 1851 Trust, in partnership with the British Women’s and Youth Americas Cup team’s major partner UK engineering and technology companies Cobham and Ultra Electronics (Ultra), has launched a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) roadshow initiative.

Image courtesy Cobham-Ultra

Through its programme STEMCrew, the 1851 Trust uses athletes and professional sports to inspire youth through STEM and climate learning.

On Wednesday 26th June, 120 students aged 11-14 from schools in York (Joseph Rowntree School, Fulford School, Tadcaster Grammar, Vale of York Academy) participated in the inaugural roadshow event at The University of York. The roadshow leverages professional sailing's real-world context and inspiration to engage students in STEM and showcases diverse career opportunities.

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Partnering with Cobham-Ultra, two of the world's leading innovators in aerospace and marine technology, which together employ over 600 engineers in the UK, has enabled the STEMCrew roadshows programme. This partnership is a natural fit, reflecting a shared commitment to innovation and excellence with Athena Pathway entering teams with the aim to win the inaugural Puig Women’s America’s Cup and retain the UniCredit Youth’s America’s Cup for Great Britain in Barcelona this Autumn.

The free sessions focused on empowering youth to make informed career decisions, challenge STEM stereotypes and boost participation, confidence and contribution in classes. Developed by 1851 Trust’s expert teaching team with feedback from Athena Pathway’s sailors and Cobham-Ultra engineers, the key stage three curriculum included interactive sessions on coding, optimising physical performance and understanding force and drag. Students were invited into the world of the America’s Cup, where teams compete on foiling boats at speeds over 100kph, making it the world’s most technologically advanced sailing competition.

Physics lessons came alive as students designed the most aerodynamic boat, testing each design in a state-of-the-art wind tunnel. Technology's importance was highlighted through Sphero balls, with coding skills required to navigate the America’s Cup course in Barcelona. Students particularly enjoyed an inspiring session on STEM careers, which featured personal journeys of Britain’s Youth and Women’s America’s Cup team members, demonstrating where STEM education can lead in sports.

“An incredibly informative, engaging STEM day where all pupils were keen to get in evolved with every activity. Pupils spoke highly of each session and all came back bubbling with how exciting the event was.” Jen O’Brien, Science Teacher, York High School

For the last decade, the 1851 Trust has delivered free STEM and climate education resources and roadshows for eight to 16 year olds across the UK. Over 40% of UK secondary schools utilise the award-winning resources through their digital education platforms STEM Crew (www.stemcrew.org) and Protect Our Future (protectourfuture.org).

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Shonnel Malani, Chairman of the Board of Cobham and Ultra Electronics, said: “We are incredibly proud of our work to broaden access to STEM-based careers. Our goal in collaborating with Athena Pathway and 1851 Trust on the roadshow programme has always been to use sailing's wonders to teach STEM in the classroom. With our sport-led activities, we hope to engage and excite 11–14-year-olds throughout our four UK-based roadshows, which will draw inspiration from the real-world experiences of the Women’s America’s Cup and Youth America’s Cup.

This partnership builds on our £5 million pledge to leading higher education institutions, which allows the opportunity for students from underrepresented groups to pursue an education in engineering. This announcement is focused on inspiring the next generation to consider studies and a career in STEM-related fields, as we ultimately look to help the UK build the skilled workforce of the future.”

Athena Pathway is a new UK programme for female and youth athletes, founded by the world’s most decorated Olympic sailors, Hannah Mills (OBE) and Sir Ben Ainslie (CBE). Hannah Mills, Athena Pathway co-founder, Team Principal and Helm, stated: “Everyone in the team is passionate about supporting the next ¬generation, across multiple fields. Our partnership with Cobham Ultra will showcase the science and engineering that goes into this sport, and the breadth of opportunities for STEM careers available to young people that we hope will inspire the scientists and engineers of tomorrow.”

Alex Hughes, Athena Pathway Trimmer for the GBR America’s Cup Youth Team, who attended the roadshow said: “I really think that days like today, are essential. STEM has many relationships to professional sports and professional sailing. We would not be able to sail America’s Cup yachts without STEM and it's so heavily invested in our sport and daily activities, from technology to communications, materials to structures, everything revolves around STEM. There are so many industries globally that find STEM crucial and would not be able to operate without STEM, so being able to get young people interested and into a career within STEM through the 1851 Trust Road Shows is vital for the future.”

Founded by Sir Ben Ainslie in 2014, with HRH The Princess of Wales as its Royal Patron, The 1851 Trust is an education charity harnessing the power of sport to inspire young people through STEM learning and climate action, aiming to break down educational barriers to provide young people with the skills and training to become innovators of the future and stewards of the environment. Jo Grindley, 1851 Trust CEO, said: “Our education roadshows deliver positive, long-term impacts on the education and careers aspirations of young people inspired by STEM. We want to engage the next generation of innovators through free interactive, curriculum-linked workshops that illustrate the links between sport and the world science, technology and engineering and the opportunities within STEM and Green skills careers.”

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