Young people from London and the Isle of Wight set sail from Portsmouth on a five-day educational STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) voyage with Tall Ships Youth Trust last week thanks to funding from Lloyd’s Register Foundation.
The voyages are the culmination of a three-year STEM and the Sea project with the aim of widening the access to a whole range of maritime careers to students from disadvantaged and under-represented areas and ultimately, inspiring the next generation of marine engineers.
TSYT is the UK’s oldest and largest youth development sail training charity and works in partnership with the 1851 Trust based in Potsmouth, to deliver the STEM activities both at sea and on land.
Living and working onboard one of TSYT’s 72ft Challenger yachts, the young people learn vital life-skills such as teamwork and resilience alongside participating in practical STEM sessions. As part of the experience, students also receive a bespoke ‘STEM’ session, led by an 1851 Trust educator at its headquarters. On board the young people become members of the sailing crew as they take on a number of tasks including, navigation and checking for wind direction, hauling ropes, operating winches and helming.
Shah Kamali (16), from Stepney Green school in London, who recently took part in a STEM and the Sea voyage, said: “I wanted to learn about the sea, sailing, how the engines work and navigation. I enjoyed the full immersion living onboard and learning all about how sailors used to sail before all the technology like GPS that is used today. I would definitely recommend this experience to others. Years later you will look back and realise it was a big a help in moving you forward in a direction you otherwise would not have had the opportunity to move into.”
Dr Tim Slingsby, Director of Skills and Education at Lloyd’s Register Foundation, said: “The project is aligned to our goal of supporting education for a safer world. By inspiring participants with an experience of life at sea, the programme is bolstering the maritime industry, bringing potential new recruits to an industry starved of skilled people. As well as the residential voyage, STEM and the Sea builds on the existing collaboration between our Heritage and Education Centre (HEC) and the 1851 Trust, who are also part of the project.”
TSYT, Skipper, Sue Geary, said: “Our STEM and the Sea voyages provide young people with insights they simply could not achieve elsewhere. Through exciting and challenging sail-training on board our world-famous Challenger yachts, coupled with the activities provided by the 1851 Trust, we aim to ignite young people’s interest in sailing and STEM to introduce them to a wide range of maritime careers they previously may never have considered.”
Joe Wellerd, STEM Curriculum Lead, at 1851 Trust, added: “There is nothing more powerful than seeing the real-life application of science, technology, engineering and maths, and sailing provides so many amazing examples. It has been particularly rewarding seeing each TYST crew learning new knowledge and skills, taking on new challenges and developing new passions for the future.”
To document their learning and experiences at sea, the young people write daily blogs, which are published on the charity’s website — Voyager Blogs.