STEM and innovation classes
Free scholarships offered to displaced Ukrainian children
GWP Packaging and “cardboard ninja” Ben Edmonds have continued their partnership to offer STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and innovation lessons to children who have been brought to the UK from Ukraine.
The scheme allows Ukrainian children between the ages of 7 and 15 to take part in Ben’s in-person classes (held in Swindon) for free – with the course fees covered by Ben and GWP.
The idea is to encourage children with a passion for engineering and science to develop their understanding whilst becoming more involved in the local community.
About the scheme
Ben Edmonds, aka Innovation Ben, is the named inventor on multiple global patents and works as a principal engineer at Dyson. However, Ben also runs a weekly inventor club for kids in his spare time and is looking to support refugees by offering several places on his courses on a scholarship basis.
While I am not in a position to host a refugee family, after everything they have been through, I am keen to offer any support I can. Providing free scholarships on my courses seemed like a small way I could contribute to welcoming them and hopefully making the transition to living in a new country easier. The aim is to provide something fun and inspiring for them to be involved with.
There are three places on offer to Ukrainian children – free of charge – thanks to the joint partnership between Innovation Ben and GWP.
I am not a big company. It’s just me running my courses in the evenings, trying to pass on my passion for design, engineering and innovation to the next generation. Thanks to the generosity of GWP – who have kindly pledged to match me with 50% of the course fees – I will be able to offer three places this term free of charge to children from Ukraine who have a flair for these subjects.
GWP Packaging, part of Macfarlane Group PLC, already sponsors Innovation Ben by providing all the cardboard he uses for Inventor Club and his educational workshops.
Hundreds of children at Westonbirt’s International English Language Summer School recently utilised cardboard material supplied by GWP in a series of projects. Participants used the materials to invent and test innovative bridges, ocean-cleaning machines and ingenious delivery devices.
Matt Dobson, Marketing manager at GWP, commented:
GWP has had a long-standing relationship with Ben. His enthusiasm for inspiring the next generation of designers and engineers is something we feel is incredibly important. So, when Ben suggested helping Ukrainian children in the local area take part in his courses, we were delighted to be able to help.
Press and radio coverage
The idea to help Ukrainian children garnered a fair amount of attention in the local community.
Besides coverage of the project by the local press (including Swindon Link, Business & Innovation Magazine, and The Business Exchange), plus industry publications such as The Packaging Portal, BBC Radio Wiltshire also interviewed Ben and GWP Marketing Manager Matt Dobson.
You can listen to the interview on BBC Sounds for a limited time or use the link below to download an MP3 recording.
Ben is a Senior Design Manager in Dyson’s New Product Innovation department (who themselves are a customer of GWP). Still, alongside his full-time job, he also works as a freelance product designer and maker. More recently, he has spent more time as a teacher, trainer and speaker.
This means that, besides Inventor Club and his other ventures, Ben has also launched a global DT innovation competition this Autumn in partnership with Doha College and COBIS, allowing him to reach over 280 schools worldwide.
He also recently ran his first online Inventor Club with a group of students in Hong Kong to raise money for the Disasters Emergency Committee.
Over the last five years, I have realised that what I love almost as much as being an inventor is helping others develop confidence in their capacity to solve problems creatively and innovate. I believe there is a creative genius inside everyone, and I love to equip people with new ways of thinking and the tools and skills to get their ideas out into the world.
As well as helping Ben, GWP has led several similar STEM and student-focused projects.
Most notably, this included setting a design challenge for Swindon College students to create a handling and storage system – using corrugated cardboard – for Swindon Foodbank. The winning design was produced at GWP’s factory in Cricklade and is still in use at the Foodbank nine years on.
Besides this, GWP has hosted visits for engineering students from UTC college in Swindon, helping them understand manufacturing processes in the packaging industry.
GWP has also commissioned art college students to create an art installation made only from cardboard (to mark 25 years in business) and a similar project using only waste materials. These projects are in addition to more lighthearted initiatives, including supplying cardboard Christmas trees for primary school children to decorate.
This term of Inventor Club is going to be all about transportation.
Students will be making cars fly, creating a working monorail, designing the car of the future, jet-powering dragsters for time trials, making trains climb cliffsides and building soap box racers!
The criteria to apply for the places are as follows. Children should be between 7 and 15 years old. They will either describe or show in some way (pictures or videos) why they would like to join Inventor Club. The candidates will be enthusiastic and love tinkering, making, creating, and having a fascination with problem-solving and how things work.
English language skills are not a priority, just a passion for design engineering and a desire to learn.
Whilst Ben offers online sessions from anywhere in the UK and internationally, children applying must live within commuting distance of Swindon (where Ben runs his weekly club at UTC Swindon on Tuesday evenings).
Candidates wishing to apply must do so before the end of October by emailing email@example.com or contacting @innovationben on social media.
Find out more
For further information on everything that Ben is up to, you can also visit his website at innovationben.com.