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IBM's Blue Fusion inspires students for National Science and Engineering Week

HURSLEY, U.K. - 12 Mar 2012: Blue Fusion has been run for more than a decade at Europe’s largest software development lab, IBM Hursley.

In a series of one day events, 14 and 15 year-old students participate in a number of exciting activities specifically designed to show the possibilities of engineering and technology.

The days are organised by IBM volunteers, many of whom are part of the IBM Graduate Programme.

To maximise the educational benefits from the event, teachers are encouraged to follow up with classroom exercises that build on the themes explored within these activities.

This year, Blue Fusion invited more schools to Hursley, introducing new activities for the students to take part in. Please see below details of this year's activities:

Robo Rescue
The game is controlled using a 3D sensor which must first be calibrated. Players must ‘teach’ the computer what it is seeing through the sensor. Once ready, the team controls a robot through a disaster zone in a virtual city to aid crisis victims. There are a number of different ‘missions’ that need completing, priorities must be set to decide on what actions to take to help. Educational elements: Science & Mathematics

Mystery Chase
Half of the Island of Utopia has a power outage. Players become investigators, solving a number of mini game puzzles to find out why the power isn't working. Players must navigate to specific points on the island. Once at the correct location, a computer based mini game activates; the completion of which unlocks clues and further puzzles.
Educational elements: Science & Mathematics, PSHEE.

Insane Terrain
Players must design a wheel to fit the different types of terrain to allow a rover vehicle to travel the maximum distance with limited energy supplies. Wheel designs are made using a virtual, 2D deformable mesh that can be changed to suit the many different types of terrain the wheel will need to run on. The aim of the game is to create the most effective wheel, performing across all terrains. Educational elements: Geography, Design & Technology.

Flight Frenzy
This game sees players  take the role of air traffic controllers. The controllers are presented with a top-down view of an airport. Aircraft enter from the edge of the screen in preparation to land. The aim of the game is to draw the landing path of each aircraft whilst avoiding other aircraft. Educational elements: PSHEE, ICT.

Don’t Crash
A team game where each player controls a separate thruster to steer a rocket ship. The aim is to fly a spaceship to another planet and land probes on the surface. Coordination and quick thinking will be challenged whilst making this treacherous journey to another world. Educational elements: ICT & Science.

Cannon Conundrum
Two cannons must be aimed and fired at targets. The ease with which each target can be hit varies. Magnets, trampolines and black holes can be used to change the movement of projectiles. Educational elements: ICT, Science, Design & Technology.

Slick Racer
Teams work together to assess and control the physical impact of external and internal elements on a model racing car. Speed, steering, down force and tyre grip must be taken into consideration as the car races on different surfaces, and in different conditions. Educational elements: ICT, Design & Technology.

Market Mayhem
Teaches the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to control  the route of a travelling salesman around a virtual city. Decisions to visit specific customers are based on financial gain, distance and speed. The objective is to produce the most intelligent salesman.
Educational elements: Science & ICT.

About IBM Hursley and the Community Programmes

In 1958, IBM took ownership of Hursley House and the surrounding grounds. Over the past 50 years, the Hursley Laboratory has continued the commitment to corporate citizenship that dates back to IBM’s founding in 1914; encouraging employees to take part in charitable events locally, within the wider community and even internationally.

This timeless site plays host to a range of programmes to engage school-aged children in Science, Maths, Technology and Engineering subjects. By engaging talent at an early age and encouraging prolonged study in industry related subjects, IBM continues to employ expertise in technology to address social and education issues.

Beyond Blue Fusion, for younger students of Primary school age, IBM also hosts events such as XploreIT and Try Science days as well as think.IT. The latter is designed especially to inspire girls to take an interest in continued study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

A year-long volunteer programme that connects IBM employees with teachers and 14 to 15 year-old students, Mentorplace provides continued support and advice leading up to GCSE examinations.

On Demand Community Challenges
With projects submitted throughout the year by IBM employees, grants are awarded for projects focussed on skills-related volunteering, enabling IBM volunteers to share their knowledge, expertise and business skills to provide a long term benefit to charitable organisations. From one off events to training schemes and environmental or renovation work, the On Demand Community Challenge programme aims to affect positive change in the communities in which IBM employees work and live.

Work Experience

Throughout the year, Hursley hosts a large number of work experience students across the various Laboratory areas. The IBM Hursley Work Experience programme adds significant value to students by developing an understanding of the professional environment. The programme immerses participants within all aspects of the working world, through effective communication and hands-on learning. Each individual is given a detailed programme of objectives and activities to complete during their stay. Students are given the opportunity to learn about work processes first-hand, experience business relationships at work, discover the expectations employees have of their colleagues as well as developing new skills and knowledge applicable to the IT industry.

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