Inspiring children through STEM
GWP assist Innovation Ben with workshops and Inventor Club
GWP Packaging has teamed up with a “cardboard ninja” to inspire the next generation of engineers and inventors.
Ben Edmonds, the founder of Innovation Ben, runs a weekly inventor club for kids online and visits schools throughout the UK to help with STEM-related activities.
Having seen a significant increase in interest in his classes, Ben found himself using a growing amount of corrugated cardboard. GWP has since stepped in to sponsor Ben’s workshops and courses by providing the materials he uses.
About the project
Ben Edmonds launched Innovation Ben and began running in-person STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) workshops around five years ago.
Combining this with his day job as a Principal Engineer at Dyson, Ben was able to reach many children at schools in Wiltshire and the surrounding area.
However, due to the pandemic and lock-downs, Ben took his “Inventor Club” online, allowing him to reach hundreds of young people worldwide.
With this success came the need for more of the raw materials used in his workshops – and in particular, cardboard. Having worked with them as part of Dyson (the Malmesbury-based company is a long-standing customer of GWP), Ben approached GWP to request assistance and support.
I have been running my workshops since 2017 and began to provide more online classes during the pandemic. But as the number of sessions has grown, I have found myself using more and more cardboard material.
I have worked with GWP as part of Dyson for several years, so I was keen to get them on board. When I approached them, they were eager to help.
GWP’s way of working, thought processes and products align perfectly with what I am trying to achieve. I’m delighted that we have the opportunity to inspire future generations of world changers through a mutual love of cardboard!
About Innovation Ben
Offering a mixture of in-person workshops and online classes, Innovation Ben provides engineering and STEM workshops in schools across the UK every week.
Although sessions are generally aimed at young people aged between 7 and 17, he has recently been working with students at The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology, Gloucestershire University, Lund University in Sweden and even taught a group of retirees Computer-Aided Design.
Ben has also been working closely with the UTC (University Technical College) network, exploring ways to roll out Inventor Club across their 48 schools. The aim is to use them as a centre of excellence to inspire local primary-aged children into STEM activities. They are currently looking for a sponsor to help pilot the project before expanding further.
Ben is also currently talking with Marlborough College, exploring ways to get involved with their brand-new Innovation centre. Besides this, he is working with Westonbirt on a long-term project to help them build an innovative, focused approach to primary school education and deliver their summer-long STEM programme as part of their International Language School.
He is even launching a global DT innovation competition in partnership with Doha College and COBIS that will reach over 280 schools worldwide, and recently ran his first online Inventor Club with a group of students in Hong Kong!
STEM For all
Ben is also passionate about inspiring children and groups who may not normally consider STEM subjects to get involved with his classes. This includes female students, who may not consider science, technology and in particular engineering as an option.
The perception of engineering is that it is something of a male-dominated industry. As a dad of three girls, this is something I find incredibly frustrating – we are effectively losing half of the potential future engineers before they have a chance to develop a love for it.
Although cardboard may not be the obvious choice for engineering workshops, it provides the perfect solution for Ben’s activities.
It is a surprisingly versatile material that can be cut, joined and fabricated in a huge variety of ways. It can also provide a good degree of strength and durability, is relatively low cost, and is of course recyclable and environmentally friendly.
Cardboard is undoubtedly my favourite material – and I say that having worked with titanium, pressure die-cast aluminium, deep-drawn stainless steel, and a multitude of technical plastics in my career to date. It is incredibly accessible and versatile and allows for some fantastic projects – I have even used it to create a driveable Transformers fancy dress costume!
Similar projects GWP has helped with
GWP itself has a strong history of working with students at local schools and colleges.
For example, the company set an engineering challenge for students to create handling trays for use at Swindon Foodbank (which were manufactured and are still in use today).
GWP has also hosted site visits from UTC Swindon students and supplied material for a team of apprentices taking part in the Greenpower Challenge. GWP has also participated in the Career Ready scheme and had a former employee, Chris Ricketts, win Wiltshire College Apprentice of the Year.
This is in addition to a wide range of art projects involving primary and college-aged pupils. This even included a full-scale art exhibition to mark GWP’s 25th anniversary produced entirely from cardboard!
Ruth Cook, Managing Director of GWP Group, commented:
We have noticed a real lack of suitable candidates when recruiting for engineering and design-type roles as a business. Getting children not only involved with, but excited about, STEM and design subjects is crucial to avoiding a looming skills gap – and the work Ben is doing will make a big difference.
Ben’s enthusiasm and passion for inspiring the next generation of engineers and inventors shines through. So, when he approached us, we were delighted to be able to help.
Find out more
For further details on Innovation Ben, including the online and in-person course dates and info for teachers, please visit innovationben.com