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Science@Work students visit East Leake site

Nottingham students win VIP manufacturing site tour to see science at work

Hard work has paid off for 12 Nottinghamshire students whose enthusiasm for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects won them a tour of our East Leake site.

The Year 9 students from The Farnborough Academy in Clifton have been taking part in a ‘Science@Work’ programme, backed by British Gypsum which manufactures plaster products and interior lining systems for the building industry right around the UK. 

The programme aims to help students see how STEM subjects are used in the workplace and to help teachers develop a more real-world approach to teaching science. This course involved 140 students in seven classroom-based lessons focusing on plaster and interior lining systems-related subjects such as ceiling tile acoustics and testing the properties of British Gypsum’s specialist magnetic plaster.  They also examined broader environmental challenges facing many industries, such as reducing water use and carbon footprint.  

Following the classroom lessons, students took part in a ‘speed networking’ event where they quizzed a variety of employees about how they use the STEM subjects in their everyday jobs.

 
The whole project culminated in teachers selecting the 12 students who had impressed the most – and this group was invited to our site at East Leake for a very special tailor-made visit to the manufacturing site.

They toured the plaster and plasterboard manufacturing plant and the various offices on the site.  In addition, they had an opportunity to quiz people in various STEM-related roles on site, and finally they made some plaster bags, similar to those used in the manufacture of plaster. 

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Sustainability Assistant Rachel Morris coordinated the event.  She said: 

“It’s been a pleasure for our company to partner The Farnborough Academy and support this STEM initiative.  We recognise how important it is for young people to understand the importance of STEM subjects and the variety of roles in which they are applied in the workplace.  Hosting the winning students here on site has been really enjoyable for the team here, with the high point being the site tour to see the processes involved in manufacturing such an everyday product as plaster and plasterboard."

“The whole programme has demonstrated the benefits of industry/education partnerships and we hope all the students involved have ‘food for thought’ in terms of future career options.” 

The Farnborough Academy’s Deputy Head of Science, Graham Johnston added: 

“It is always challenging for students to relate classroom learning to possible future careers. Meeting the employees really helped the students to increase their awareness of the role of science and STEM in the workplace. It is rewarding working with companies like British Gypsum who want to invest time and resources in careers education and this ‘Science@Work’ programme has been a hugely positive partnership.  We hope we can continue to work with the company on initiatives like this in the future.”

Comments from the students included: 

  • “Talking to people was the most helpful activity as I became more aware of the different jobs available.”
  • “The best thing about the tour was seeing the amount of gypsum they mine.”
  • “The most helpful activity was during lunchtime when we could ask the volunteers anything and a lot of good, helpful information came out.  The most important thing that I learned was that Health and Safety is the taken very seriously.  Making the bag was the best part of the day.”
  • “The best part of the tour was seeing the plaster stuff being put onto the paper.”
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