#FalkirkSTEMpire PPE dream team, inspire a generation?

You may be aware that PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) has become a big issue in the fight against coronavirus.  Our schools have been generously donating their time and materials to produce PPE and support our frontline staff.  We would like to highlight and celebrate the importance of their efforts.

Braes High School, Denny High School, Graeme High School, Grangemouth High School, Larbert High School and St Mungo’s High School have been working in partnership to design, manufacture and deliver visors and surgical mask bands.  These have been requested by local pharmacies, care homes, dentists, GP surgeries and Forth Valley ICU.

There is a Scotland wide effort by Secondary Technical Teachers to create these types of PPE.  Designs and tips for manufacture are being shared. The designs for the PPE have evolved throughout the weeks.

So many schools have joined the effort requests for PPE are being redirected to the schools manufacturing in the closest areas to the request.

Our teacher are working to produce what they can with the technology available to them.  Some are using 3D printers, creating designs which suit the size of their equipment, use the least material and take the shortest time to manufacture.  Some schools have had more success adapting designs and using their laser cutters to speed up the process and utilise different material which they have available.  Some schools are manufacturing by hand on technical workshop benches.

The requests are being directed to the schools best suited to fulfil the requests and great partnerships are being built.

All this is an undeniable demonstration of the value of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills.  Our teachers have not manufactured PPE before nor will they have manufactured or managed a project on such a mass scale.  However they have the ability to think systematically and visualise how one change or action will affect another.  They can adapt, learn about and improve their work as they go ensuring they continue to get to the most effective solution.  They find problems and are creative in solving these problems, nothing is a permanent barrier.  They are working across schools and managing the best way to get the best outcome.  It is these STEM skills we are trying to equip our pupils with to enable them to thrive in their future.  This is a link to a Skills Development Scotland video about skills 4.0.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjfM9LKBBhE  Have a look.

Massive congratulations to our teachers and supportive school environments for the epic amount of work completed so far.  Apart from the obvious difference they are making in providing vital PPE perhaps also they might inspire us to reflect on the importance of STEM skills and the potential impact they could have on our learners’ futures.

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