Mazak hosts local primary school students in STEM Challenge Final

Yamazaki Mazak hosted over 80 primary school students from across Worcestershire as they showcased their skills and ideas in the 2023 Primary STEM Challenge Final.

After the success of the 2022 Worcestershire Primary STEM Challenge, which returned to a physical format for the first time since the COVID pandemic, this year’s competition once again highlighted the breadth of young engineering talent on display throughout the county. 

The Worcestershire Primary STEM team hosted two-hour workshops at over 40 schools throughout the county which focused on educating students on structures and mechanisms, before tasking them to solve a construction challenge of their own.

This year’s brief was set by Worcester-based home delivery and warehousing specialists, Arrow XL, and focused on using K’NEX to create a model warehouse automation cell. Each design, which needed to fit on an A3 sheet of paper, had to incorporate at least three shelves and be able to transport a 13cm red K’NEX rod.

Each school then put forward their best team to reproduce their design and compete at the Primary STEM Challenge Final, which was once again held at Mazak’s UK Headquarters in Worcester, on Thursday 15th June.

While the judges deliberated, all the students who took part in the final were given a guided tour of Mazak’s European Technology Centre, which also included the opportunity to help program some of Mazak’s latest machine tools on display.

Teams from Nunnery Wood Primary School and Eldersfield Lawn CofE Primary School were eventually crowned winners, with Grimley & Holt CofE Primary School and Broadheath CofE Primary School being recognised as highly commended runners up.

Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “I would like to congratulate the winners, runners up and all the participants from this year’s Primary Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Challenge. Everyone who came along developed creative solutions to the special challenge set. 

“The Worcestershire LEP and its partners aim to inspire young people to consider a future career in STEM industries and this event is one of many within a programme of activity that is helping to do just that. By giving young people the opportunity to explore STEM interests we can help to create the county’s future workforce.”

Sarah Lalor from STEMworks UK, said: “It is a real privilege to be part of this programme. The children are given the opportunity to develop essential skills such as problem solving, communication and teamwork within a real-world context.  Positive experiences like these are important for children to have exposure to potential STEM sector careers which they might otherwise be unaware of.”

Max Jones, People Development Manager, for Yamazaki Mazak UK, added: “It was fantastic to once again host the Primary STEM Challenge Final here at Mazak, and to see the students put their problem-solving skills to the test in an authentic engineering environment. There were some great team performances from all of the entrants, and I’d like to extend a hearty congratulations to the winners on behalf of everyone at Mazak.

“Fostering the next generation of engineering talent is central to the Mazak philosophy. While we have multiple entry points for school and university leavers, as well as experienced engineers and career-changers alike, activities such as the Primary STEM Challenge are a brilliant way of enlightening young minds to the rewarding opportunities a career in engineering can deliver.”

The Primary STEM challenge competition is run by STEMworks UK – a not-for-profit company, in partnership with Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, Worcestershire County Council and District Councils across the county. Over 32 schools have already signed up for the 2024 competition.