8 July 2020

Manufacturer helps local pupils make moves with university outreach scheme

A Sheffield-based postural support equipment specialist is helping to engage children across the city in engineering after partnering with an outreach scheme launched by the University of Sheffield.

Photograph of children making bikes

Jenx Ltd, based on Wardsend Road in Hillsborough, is the first city engineering firm to take part in the University of Sheffield’s Maker{Move} initiative, a hands-on mobile workshop designed to engage children in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) in educational and community settings.

The scheme is part of the University’s Maker{Futures} programme, an ambitious scheme driven by the University’s School of Education and supported by the Faculty of Engineering. It aims to support and promote maker education in schools, libraries and museums.

The initiative is set to re-launch in September, in accordance with Government Covid-19 guidelines, following a successful initial workshop at Northfield Junior School in Dronfield earlier this year.

Around 150 children were involved in the day, which included a ‘Build a Bike’ workshop. The workshop invited children at the school to build a ‘balance bike’ from scratch. It then gave them the chance to test their creation within the school’s grounds.

The best bit about the activity is that children can then actually ride their creations – they start to think like an engineer, figuring out why it's not working and trying something else. Brilliant!

Dr Alison Buxton

Maker{Futures} programme

All equipment used to build the bikes was designed and donated by Jenx, with members of the firm’s team working closely with the Maker{Futures} team to develop and manufacture the bespoke activity.

The workshop received praise from pupils, teachers and project organisers – with one 10-year-old pupil saying: “I never knew how to build a bike before and today I have managed to build one and ride it in the hall.

“It was quite hard but I like mine because I had different size wheels. It was fun."

Rebecca Timperly, Headteacher at Northfield Junior School, said: "The day was amazing! I think the build a bike activity was great. The children really engaged and worked together to figure out what goes where, and it really put their problem-solving skills to the test. I can’t wait to repeat it!”

Dr Alison Buxton, of the Maker{Futures} programme, said: "Jenx have been brilliant with donating their time and efforts to design and make an activity to engage children in engineering through our Maker{Move} mobile makerspace outreach programme for schools.

“The build a bike activity allows children to get hands-on to see how bikes are put together and mix the pieces up to create their own design. 

“The best bit about the activity is that children can then actually ride their creations – they start to think like an engineer, figuring out why it's not working and trying something else. Brilliant!"

Jenx Design Engineer, Jack Wilson, who originally designed the Build a Bike activity, said: “We’re really proud to be the first engineering business on board with the University of Sheffield’s Maker{Move} programme.

It was fantastic to see the impact which our activity had on children at Northfield Junior School, with so many pupils developing the skills and ways of thinking needed for a future career in engineering.

Jack Wilson

Jenx Design Engineer

“In addition to our involvement in the Maker{Move} programme, our staff regularly engage with students and pupils at schools, colleges and universities in Sheffield. We also have a hugely popular apprenticeships programme and are always looking for ways to develop the skills of young people across the region.”

For more information on the Maker{Futures} project, visit www.makerfutures.org.