Two academics from Cranfield University recently visited Sharnbrook Primary School, Bedfordshire to give Year 5 and Year 2 pupils an insight into some of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) research conducted on campus.

Dr Toby Waine, Lecturer in Applied Remote Sensing at Cranfield University, demonstrated the use of satellites and drones in farming, taking along a large drone that he was able to demonstrate to the nine- and 10-year-old pupils.

Dr Waine also got pupils involved in hands-on activities. Using a portable spectrophotometer – a piece of apparatus that measures the intensity of light in a part of the spectrum – he asked pupils to guess what part of the spectrum coloured classroom objects would be in.

Speaking about the morning’s activities, Dr Waine said: “It was great to see the pupils getting excited about the topics that we covered and the technology involved. Relating the activities to everyday classroom objects helped to explain how drones and imagery are used to provide farmers with valuable information out in the countryside.”

In addition, Dr Sandra Messenger, Knowledge Exchange Manager at Cranfield University, took along a “Double” Robot. The device, which displays the users face on a tablet attached to a self-balancing robot, enables the user to navigate and communicate virtually at a remote venue.

Dr Messenger said: “The pupils were fascinated by our ‘Double’ Robot and even set up an obstacle course for me to navigate through. Activities such as this are fantastic for getting pupils as young as five and six to understand how satellite technology can be used in different settings across the world.”

Meshelle Headley, Year 2 teacher at Sharnbrook Primary School, said: “These fun and interactive sessions have really helped our pupils to understand the importance and relevance of science and engineering in the real world. So far we have been supported in the topics of insects and space and are looking forward to more help with our plant topic this summer.”

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

Environment and Agrifood at Cranfield

For the past 50 years, Cranfield has been contributing to enhancing natural capital and ensuring that global food systems are more resilient for the future. We are recognised worldwide by industry, government and academe for our research and teaching in plants, soil, water and air.

We believe that environmental problems can be alleviated through technological innovation and risk management.

Cranfield is a key partner in two of the four UK Government-sponsored Agri-tech Centres – Agri-Epi (Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre) and CHaP (Crop Health and Protection), with over £10 million invested in new infrastructure since 2017.

Our education, research and consultancy is enhanced by our world-class facilities including the National Reference Centre for Soils, which houses the largest collection of its kind in Europe and is recognised as the UK’s definitive source of national soils information, and our big data visualisation suite, which has tools to analyse big data collections including environmental resources from 280 countries/territories worldwide.

In 2017, Cranfield was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for research and education in large-scale soil and environmental data for the sustainable use of natural resources in the UK and worldwide, the first time in the Prize’s history that an award has been given for soil science.