Pictured above – left: Kilpatrick School Students, centre: Kilpatrick team underwater vehicle, right: Hermitage Academy team. 

By Alison Hill

Student teams from Kilpatrick School, Dalmuir, and Hermitage Academy, Helensburgh, celebrated winning awards last week, taking the top honours in a new STEM initiative, SUBS in Schools, which challenges school students to build and control an underwater vehicle.

SUBS in Schools was launched last year in 15 Scottish schools by Engineering in Motion (EIM), a leading global education programme provider, with lead supporter, the Royal Navy. COVID-19 severely impacted the scheduled live finals of the competition, with plans for students to showcase their vehicles in a pool falling victim to national restrictions.

However, the hard work put in by the students building, testing and modifying their underwater vehicles, as well as producing portfolios of their work and developing a verbal presentation of their competition journey, was judged by an expert panel of engineers.

Kilpatrick School won the Portfolio Award and Hermitage Academy were winners in the Verbal Presentation Award. Both school teams have been presented with a specially commissioned coin by the Royal Navy, certificates and £500 STEM equipment gift vouchers. Three other schools submitted competition entries and were rewarded with £200 STEM gift vouchers.

John Phee from the Kilpatrick School team said of winning the Portfolio Award, “We learned new skills including understanding buoyancy, using new tools, producing technical drawings and teamwork. It’s been hard work to fit in working on the project with lessons, lockdown and social distancing and we’re very proud, not only to have completed the project but also win the award. It was great news when we heard this from our teacher.”

Sandy Cameron, Technical Teacher from Hermitage Academy said, “The students organised themselves into roles and worked together as a team, learning a lot along the way. They were very keen to complete the project and enjoyed the visit from the Royal Navy. A colleague, Jenny Ritchie, also worked with the boys and we both saw how SUBS in Schools inspired them. It was a practical, real life application of their STEM learning which brought it alive for them.”

SUBS in Schools is a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education programme where students have the opportunity to learn about complex engineering systems while building a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). In the challenge, the vehicle is designed to complete a series of underwater tests including a speed challenge, object retrieval and an obstacle course.

Andrew Denford, Founder and Chairman, Engineering in Motion said of the student’s work, “All the schools put in tremendous effort and persevered with the project despite all that is happening. This was a pilot competition and although we weren’t able to judge all the elements of students’ work, we’ve seen from their enthusiasm and the interest shown by other schools, that there is scope for us to roll-out an expanded programme next year.

“SUBS in Schools is a novel cross-curricular initiative that uses underwater technology and marine engineering to inspire and engage with students, showcasing the exciting opportunities of a STEM career. Congratulations to all the students who competed and particularly for our two winning teams.”

Commander Dave Pinder, the Royal Navy’s STEM lead for Scotland, said: “We were incredibly impressed with all of the school teams that took part in SUBS in Schools and, in particular, the winners Hermitage Academy and Kilpatrick School.  Our Royal Navy STEM representatives had the opportunity to spend time with some of the students last year and to review their work and give some pointers. Their enthusiasm and hard work was evident in their designs, presentations and portfolios.

“We hope that the competition has inspired the students to think about a future in a STEM-related field and that they build on the skills that they have gained during SUBS in Schools.”

SUBS in Schools has a roster of partners including lead supporter, the Royal Navy and official supporters: ESP, EIM, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, Denford, IMarEST, Seafarers UK, UCL Mechanical Engineering, BMT Global, Qinetiq and Sea Cadets.

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