Pupils challenged to invent wearable tech of the future

Leeds Beckett launch wearables challenge to inspire next generation of entrepreneurs

An innovative ‘wearable technology’ challenge for Yorkshire school pupils, aimed to inspire the next generation of digital entrepreneurs, was launched this December at an event at Leeds Beckett University.

The challenge – created by Premier Farnell and supported by Leeds Beckett University and Ahead Partnership in Leeds – is to design a new piece of wearable technology in a bid to encourage young people to pursue a career that utilises a STEM discipline. Over 150 pupils are set to take part across 10 schools and academies in Leeds, Barnsley, Halifax and Castleford.

Nick Cope, Associate Dean for Enterprise and Employability at Leeds Beckett University, said: “Leeds Beckett University is delighted to be involved in this exciting project. It gives our students the opportunity to share their expertise and gain valuable experience of working with young people in our region. Projects such as this open young people’s eyes to the opportunities available to them in the important areas of innovative design, technology and engineering for their future studies and careers.”

Steven Webb, Company Secretary at Premier Farnell, and Governor and Vice Chairman at Leeds Beckett University, said: “We ran this competition last year with five schools in Leeds and this year will see 10 schools take part which is fantastic. Coding in education is critical for us as a business as it is these young people who will become our stars of the future.”

These students are at the stage in their careers where they are making subject decisions that really affect their futures. Gaining well-structured work experience is vital to these decision – Stephanie Burras

Each of the 10 schools have received five CodeBug development boards – a wearable piece of technology designed to introduce programming and electronics concepts to younger age groups – as well as additional budget provided by Premier Farnell to spend on electronic components required to complete their designs.

As well as a guest speech from Amy Mather – the first winner of Europe’s Digital Girl Award at age 13, and recognised for her leadership, entrepreneurship and creativity in digital – Dr Andrew Robinson, creator of the CodeBug, addressed the students at the launch event, before Steven Webb formally launched the competition.

Stephanie Burras CBE, CEO of Ahead Partnership, added: “We have been connecting businesses and schools successfully for five years with our Make the Grade programme in Yorkshire and the Wearable Technology Challenge is an inspired way to bring vital STEM subjects to life. These students are at the stage in their careers where they are making subject decisions that really affect their futures. Gaining well-structured work experience is vital to these decisions”.

The winners of the ‘Wearable Technology’ competition will be announced on 15 March 2016 where each school will have the opportunity to display their best design before a panel of judges.

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