Science and Sport: harnessing the London Olympics

An initiative that plans to harness the London 2012 Olympics in order to engage and inspire young people in science, engineering and technology (SET) has received a grant of £10,000 from The Ove Arup Foundation.

‘100 Years of Sport Innovation: Showcasing how science has transformed sport’ is an initiative aimed at exploring the ways in which SET can improve sporting achievement, and how it has revolutionised both sports equipment and performance over the years.

The pilot project, organised by Equalitec, part of the Portia organisation, will focus on ten schools in London’s Hackney – an area that will be affected strongly by the 2012 Olympics. The project will draw comparisons between the London Olympics of 1908, 1948 and 2012, combining online resources with real-world events, in a bid to stimulate debate and improve the quality of education in SET.

Dr Elizabeth Pollitzer (pictured), who is director at Portia/Equalitec, declared the award “a godsend… it has been essential in setting up the pilot project.”

“Hackney is one of the most deprived areas in London, and we want to take the Olympics, which the students are already engaged with, and use that to develop an interest in SET.

“We are working with the Institutions of Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering to send volunteer engineers into ten schools in Hackney to work with the pupils and encourage them to discuss future innovations.

“Our initial hope is for the pilot project to be a success, so that we can repurpose it and roll it out across the UK.”

Speaking of the direct benefits of the Ove Arup Foundation’s award, Dr Pollitzer explained: “One of the most difficult things is to gather the funds to get an idea across in the first place. When you can do that and attract organisations like the ICE and IMechE you can achieve so much more than you would have.”