Aeronautics and space ­leader Airbus sign a new three-year partnership with Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium to support the charity in its mission to spark children’s curiosity in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

“Airbus has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with our charity” said Ben Ward, CEO of Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium.

“They were one of the charity’s founding industry partners, sponsor of the planetarium and committed supporter of the STEM Ambassador programme (the UK’s national STEM volunteering scheme) for which we are the regional coordinator.”

Winchester Science Centre was founded in 1985 as Hampshire Technology Trust in response to the local shortage of scientists, engineers and technicians. In 2002, the charity moved to its present award-winning site on the outskirts of Winchester and has firmly established itself as a regional leader in science communication. The Science Centre welcomes around 180,000 visitors annually, including over 40,000 school children, who participate in hands-on science, and live science shows, workshops and planetarium shows. The team engages thousands more through school and community outreach activities.

Jo Sawford, Airbus’ Head of Site at Portsmouth said: “Supporting STEM activities is key for us – to engage with future engineers, scientists and technicians. We are delighted to again partner with Winchester Science Centre and support their work in inspiring the next generation of aerospace pioneers.”

Ben Ward continued - “At Winchester Science Centre we want to excite children and their grown-ups and show them that science is fun, creative, varied, rewarding, life-changing and most importantly, that every child has the potential and capacity to be involved.

 “There are huge career opportunities for young people in our region, with major STEM businesses like Airbus, operating on our doorstep. But for many children, access to these opportunities can be limited for reasons such as, an out-of-date perception of science, unconscious bias, a low level of confidence amongst parents and teachers, limited access to fun, high quality STEM experiences, and poor visibility of STEM role models. We want to change that.

“Airbus employs a 14,000-strong workforce in the UK across more than 25 sites stretching the length and breadth of the country, including five sites within a two-hour drive of Winchester.

“Having the support of Airbus as a corporate partner enables us to reach children who are struggling to engage in STEM. Through our Widening Participation programme we are pleased to be working with selected schools across our region that we have identified as needing additional support, and running a number of events within these communities for greater impact.”