Looking back, moving forward

July 26, 2012 - 0 Comments

London 2012 is here, schools are out and I’m reflecting on the successes of a very popular Games initiative. Cisco’s promotion of STEM skills – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – has just reached a fantastic conclusion with lots to celebrate.

Two years ago, we set out to use the Games to focus and sharpen young people’s STEM skills. We wanted to inspire budding scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, designers and tomorrow’s big thing. We knew students seeking to further their studies in STEM-based subjects could be boosted with a little imagination and creative thinking – plus some incentives. The debate continues, as the BBC reports a call for immediate action to boost student numbers in science, technology, engineering and maths.

What we achieved together

The stats speak for themselves, which proves the point:

  • 168,000 page views on the Out Of The Blocks website, including 37,000 individual visitors and 23,000 unique visitors
  • 22,000 Active Teach launches for Maths – more than 1,520 hours of maths via online Active Teach. That equates to 20 minutes for every secondary and private school in England and Wales at key stage level 4 (14 – 16 year olds)
  • 7,000 Active Teach launches for science with 16,460 teachers actively engaged
  • 10,300 visits to Challenge 2012 page during the challenges and over 700 schools taking part in the various challenges

It’s incredible to see how far-reaching the outcomes are – there’s ceaseless demand for our Out Of The Blocks maths and science books, the high volume of website traffic, the Active Teach downloads and career-inspiring videos.

The final hurdle

STEM Challenge 10 marked the end of the programme for us and our partners STEMnet, LOCOG, Pearson and Buro Happold. Schoolchildren were tasked with organising the Games in their region or city – making their own Games bid which considered sustainability, legacy, facilities, transport and their local community.

Breath-taking submissions embraced STEM skills and Games values. The finalists came to Cisco House in the Olympic Park to play Cisco’s pinball machine, meet Stephen Fry and take part in a quiz via conferencing technology – fun and learning in one. Their stunning pitches clearly showed how much we had captured their imagination:

  • basketball facilities with hemp walls and real planning permission
  • new integrated water facilities
  • a Goalball stadium complete with ticket strategy
  • football for the blind
  • a hydro-electric swimming arena
  • a triathlon event

There can be only one winner – the Pringle Stadium for Aquatics in Preston. Built as a detailed model, the worthy winners were the students from All Hallows High School. The whole city can be proud and its future Olympics proposal is in safe hands.

The challenge continues

It’s humbling to directly engage with students who offer such talent and potential and I hope we’ve played a part in inspiring some STEM stars of the future. So here’s to the next Games and the ongoing challenge of encouraging and supporting the upcoming generation of scientists, mathematicians, engineers, entrepreneurs, designers and technologists.


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