Melton Mowbray youngsters get up to speed with superfast broadband
Primary school children in Melton Mowbray were the first in Leicestershire to try out a new learning resource developed by the county council which explains how fibre broadband works.
The new learning tool, known as ‘the interactive cube’ was developed by the Superfast Leicestershire team to teach children how the internet reaches their homes and broaden the knowledge of youngsters around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) skills.
With the STEM skills gap costing the UK £1.5bn a year, inspiring British school children to pursue these subjects has never been more important. 
The Superfast Leicestershire interactive cube aims to help Leicestershire children bridge this gap. Through building their own fibre broadband network and connecting all the towns and villages, children can learn about the engineering behind the delivery and installation of fibre broadband.
The group of Year 6 pupils, at Brownlow Primary School in Melton, spent the morning learning how fibre broadband travels from their local telephone exchange into their homes, enabling them to use the internet for learning, as well as enjoying popular apps such as YouTube and Netflix.
Pam Posnett, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member and Brownlow governor, said:
“The event is a great opportunity for children to learn the technical detail behind fibre broadband, the interactive cube will be areal asset to the Superfast Leicestershire team and demonstrates the importance of supporting children and encouraging them to take an interest in science and technology so they’re prepared for what the future brings.”
The pupils also talked with Openreach engineer Nick Woodward about his role in making fibre broadband available
Nick said: “It was great to spend time with the children at Brownlow. They are of a generation that is able to do more online than any before them, and you can only imagine the possibilities as they get older. We may have even inspired an engineer of the future.”
Alongside the technical side pupils also learnt about the safety aspects of using broadband from a representative from Leicestershire Police force, who are at the forefront of the drive to raise awareness of the dangers of living in an increasing digital world.
Damien Turrell, Headteacher of Brownlow Primary School, said: “Brownlow is so pleased to work with Superfast Leicestershire to launch this one of a kind event. Giving the pupils the opportunity to learn the technical side of something they use every day and how to use it responsibly is fantastic. I’m really thankful to Leicestershire County Council, Openreach, and Leicestershire police for coming along and making a day that year 6 will not forget in a very long time.”
The new interactive learning cube is 60cm cubed and features a magnetic surface which is designed to look like a map of a local village. Buildings that are familiar to children such as libraries and shops have been included alongside homes, farms and telephone exchange points so they can see how the main fibre network or spine is so important to the project. Information on how it all works is included on the sides, along with an information key and a suggested game to play.
Superfast Leicestershire is playing a leading role in making faster broadband available in rural areas - already reaching more than 70,000 homes and businesses across the county since the first broadband cabinet went live in 2014.
More than 94 per cent of premises across the Borough of Melton now have access to superfast broadband.
A typical Melton home, covered by the Superfast Leicestershire programme, can now download a HD YouTube clip in less than eight seconds, compared to around two minutes previously. Or a two hour HD movie in four minutes, compared to around an hour.
The most recent parts of Leicestershire to benefit from superfast fibre broadband include Gumley, Sapcote, and Barton in the Beans, who are getting a fibre connection for the very first time
Anyone who would like to host their own broadband event can get in touch with the Superfast Leicestershire team on firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information about the programme visit www.superfastleicestershire.org.uk. Search #SuperfastLeics on Twitter for the latest updates
According to a 2018 report by STEM Learning - https://www.stem.org.uk/news-and-views/news/skills-shortage-costing-stem-sector-15bn
According to independent thinkbroadband.com - http://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/melton,E07000133