A New School Session

20160704_eduoffr_legostem_image6-image-kate-mcfarlane“Everything is awesome… I learnt a lot of new things about REME engineering”. This was the response from a 10 year old pupil at Lyneham Primary School to the Museum’s latest education workshop. Since the Museum moved to Lyneham, we have been busy working with schools to develop new, exciting workshops and our latest project looks like it will be one of the best we’ve ever offered.

Being new to north Wiltshire, a focus group was run with local Primary School teachers to see what we could offer our new audience. Of the may ideas discussed, the teachers wanted a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) workshop based on the interesting and unique vehicles which will be on display in the Museum. Lego Education was seen to be a wonderful material to work with, and one which could help us to meet the need of local schools. The pupils could engage with it whilst making it easier to build complex machines in the short timeframe which schools have during a Museum visit. The only issue with using Lego was expense, and this was made more of an issue when buying for a class of over 30 pupils. So, financial support would have to be obtained to make this project a reality.


Funding was sought from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) Engineering Education Grant Scheme. With their assistance, and guidance from Lieutenant Colonel Ian Parsons (Chair of Western Region IMechE), the Museum was able to purchase multiple Lego sets, each with a battery pack, motor, axles, pulleys, gears and much more.

The Museum also teamed up with Lyneham Primary School, who supplied class space and pupils to run six trial workshops. Pupils were paired up and tasked to design and build a powered recovery vehicle in an hour, which could then tow a toy truck. The children loved getting stuck into the Lego sets and many fantastic designs were produced. “The best part of the workshop is that you can do your own design” commented one Year 4 girl.

The most challenging part for the children was converting the power of the motor to the wheels via some form of transmission. Thankfully they had the support of 3 Artificer Sergeant Majors: Warrant Officer 1st Class Flynn, Hart and Watson, from 8 Training Battalion REME. With their help the pupils were able to use a combination of cogs, axles and pulleys to power their recovery vehicles.

20160705_eduoffr_legostem_image5-image-oliver-parrThe workshops were a great success and the Museum received excellent feedback from all involved. The next step will be to run more workshops using this new Lego Education resource in the Museum, once we’re open to the public.

The Museum would like to thank the IMechE and IET for their support in this project. The project’s success was also down to the staff and pupils of Lyneham Primary School, who were willing subjects for this trial. The support of the institute members for these early trials has been crucial in helping the Museum get the learning level right for these initial trial workshops.

As a result of this project, the Museum now has the resources and experience to run Lego engineering workshops with visiting schools. By using the exciting collection in the Museum we can engage with even more young people and help inspire a new generation of engineers.

Oliver Parr – Education Officer




“Good Morning, Mr Parr”

Welcome signThere is nothing more unusual than facing 400 children while they speak out your name in unison. I have delivered a few assemblies now, one about Remembrance and a few on the topic of VE Day, but the welcome is something I have yet to get used to.

“Today I am here to talk to you about Armed Forces Day”, and I crack on with why I am there.

As Education Officer for the REME Museum, I have had many challenges in my five years of being in the post. One was a group visit of over 90 pupils studying Local History to a Museum designed to hold a lot less. Another was a visit by only five children with multiple learning difficulties for which I needed to find new ways to help them access the collection. My new challenge is to start an education programme for the new location with a new Museum, and this is a challenge which I am looking forward to.

Since our site in Arborfield is closed to the public, my main focus is to start talking to schools near our new site in Lyneham. Assemblies, which for this week were focusing on Armed Forces Day, are a great first step into schools. They are places where we can talk to both children and teachers about who REME are and what sort of thing they should be expecting in the Museum when it opens in Autumn 2016.

The Armed Forces Day assembly focuses on two things: what the Armed Forces do for us and who they are. I talk about protection, peace, aid and innovation. We discuss the role of veterans, men, women and members of the commonwealth who make up our fighting forces (but with a little REME bias!). With the help of a few young volunteers from the audience, the school has a chance to explore some uniform and kit from both World War Two and the present day.

After a barrage of wonderful questions, that usually deviate off track a bit, class by class they file out of the hall leaving just me and a member of staff. After a quick handshake, I am off. In all I come away from the school knowing that many kids have had a great experience with the collections, they have learnt lots. If that was only after 15 minutes in a school hall, imagine what they will learn once they are able to visit the actual Museum.

Oliver Parr – Education Officer

Oliver Parr, Education Officer