Pupils attend interactive STEM day with Tarmac

Pupils from Bellingham Middle School and Dr Thomlinson Middle School attended an action-packed STEM event at Tarmac’s Barrasford Quarry, which brought Northumberland National Park’s first six-week STEM Festival to a close.

Tarmac, the UK’s largest construction materials company, hosted the STEM day at its Barrasford Quarry site in Hexham on Thursday 21 October 2021, which was attended by almost 80 year eight students from two local schools.

Students were involved in four sessions including careers, geology, tech and land management, with the day coming to a close with a planned detonation, all in the name of STEM.

Rachel Baron, Learning Officer at Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “We’re incredibly proud of how our first STEM Festival has been received by the public and by schools, and we’re grateful to the team at Tarmac for organising such a fantastic STEM day for the pupils to bring the Festival to a close.

“We’ve seen an increase in demand for outdoor learning from school communities following the disruptive period of uncertainty and the impact of COVID-19, which is why using creative ways via Northumberland National Park’s Learning Programme, such as this quarry visit, to engage and get pupils involved with learning, is so important and impactful.

“Science and Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are at the heart of everything the National Park stands for and aims to achieve, and through the STEM Festival’s activities and events, we hope everyone involved now understands more about the National Park and its purpose to help protect, conserve and enhance the landscape for the future.”

A grou of school children on site at Barrasford Quarry

John Riley, regional operations director at Tarmac, said: “As a sponsor of The STEM Festival at The Sill, we were delighted to welcome Bellingham Middle School and Dr Thomlinson Middle School to Barrasford Quarry.

“The team at the site enjoyed showing the pupils around the operation and letting them experience first-hand how important STEM is when it comes to running a quarry.”

Dan Carr, quarry manager at Barrasford Quarry, added: “This was a truly great event and a brilliant opportunity for us to showcase our business and how we operate the quarry in a sustainable way. We put a great deal of effort into planning and delivering the day, so to see the interaction between our presenters and the children was really rewarding. We hope we can build on these foundations and support the STEM Festival in the future.”

The careers session explored the different roles at the quarry, and activities that helped to tackle gender stereotype in the industry. Students could also experience a drill simulator, where they virtually learnt how to drive the machinery and learn how it worked, and take part in a competition to name the site’s newest truck.

During the geology session, the pupils learnt about the science and history of the area, the formation of the Whin Sill; a dramatic and iconic ridge of rock along which Hadrian’s Wall was built in Northumberland National Park, as well as understanding Tarmac’s wildlife responsibilities and why reinstating land where work has been carried out is so important to the area’s biodiversity. Pupils also had the opportunity to learn about the tech used on the quarry, and equipment used to plan and manage land effectively.

With the increase in need for outdoor learning, Northumberland National Park has recently launched a Recovery Curriculum. Find out more by visiting https://www.thesill.org.uk/learning/northumberland-national-park-recovery-curriculum/.

The STEM Festival was funded by Reece Foundation and supported by Tarmac.