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Over 2600 pupils from schools around Heathrow got an introduction to coding and robotics through the Secondary School Challenge.

Taking place from March to May, the Heathrow Secondary School Challenge visited 14 schools across the boroughs of Ealing, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Slough and Spelthorne where over half of Heathrow’s 76,000 employees come from.

In its seventh year the challenge taught year 8 pupils about coding as part of the Government’s STEM programme which aims to get more young people to take up science, technology, engineering and maths. It was based on the 21 driverless ‘pods’ that are used to transport passengers from business car parks to Terminal 5. Working in teams, the pupils built their own pods out of Lego, and then programmed them to travel a set route. The challenge finished with a pod race off between teams at the end.

The interactive sessions were joined by 141 colleagues from Heathrow who were able to share their knowledge and experience.

Heathrow Chief Information Officer, Stuart Birrell, said: “Investing in key skills such as coding through schemes like our Secondary School Challenge is important to us and the schools we work with. It was great to see such enthusiasm from the pupils to learn new skills as they got to grips with this year’s challenge. Hopefully some of these young people will be inspired to become our engineers of the future.”
The final school to take part in the Heathrow Secondary School Challenge was Featherstone High School in Ealing.

Head of Careers at Featherstone High School, Andrew Webb, said: “As a school we were really impressed by the excellent programme. Working with the Lego robots gave the Year 8 students the opportunity to put their coding skills into practice on a practical application. The presence of a wider range of Heathrow's employees gave the students the opportunity to find out what it is engineers really do and the wide range of entry routes into the profession. As Year 8 students consider their future careers the day has helped many to understand the vast range of highly skilled and well-paid jobs available within the local community.”

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