Over 1200 students discuss solutions and skills to reach net-zero in School Eco-Week events

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Three secondary schools in the West have recently held Inspire Sustainability Eco-Weeks, with their students learning about the challenges that we face in order to reach net-zero by 2030, and the green skills and solutions needed in order to overcome them.

Bristol Brunel Academy, Digitech Studio School and Hans Price Academy have held events including career stands with prospective employers from the area, where students challenged them on their green credentials; sessions from the DETI Inspire team debating sustainable solutions from real engineers in the area; and interactive hook-a-duck stands encouraging students to identify their own green skills and apply them to the net-zero challenge.

The Eco Weeks form part of the Inspire Sustainability project, funded as part of the Green Futures project from the West of England Combined Authority. Through meeting all our real life role models working on sustainability solutions, it’s hoped young people will gain a greater awareness of the diverse green jobs available in the West.

In the DETI Inspire sessions, students debated targets for net-zero, including lowering waste by 65%, and Bristol City Council’s promise to reduce traffic by 40%, all by the year 2030. Then the students of various age groups, discussed the different solutions to the challenges faced when reaching for those targets. Such as insulating new homes and retrofitting older ones, city planning focussing on low-carbon transport, ways to hold their schools to account for their eco-choices, and the many green skills and careers that would come from the push for net-zero.

Across the week, the DETI Inspire team delivered a whole-school assembly, multiple live school online broadcasts tuned into by whole year groups, 15 fully facilitated sessions, and hosted an employer careers fair.

In total the team directly delivered to over 1200 young people, with future events and engagements also being planned. Many of the students reached have formed school eco-clubs, where they work together with the school to become more sustainable. Many of the students have taken inspiration from the sessions, and brought real solutions for sustainability to the school’s leadership. It’s really great to see that the students are turning to climate action and developing their green skills, and actively making a difference in their school.

To learn more about the sessions, the plans for future Eco-weeks, and to book the DETI Inspire team for future STEM and sustainability outreach, please contact the team at the engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk inbox. You can also download the lesson plans and materials from the sessions at the link below: https://www.digitaltrailblazers.net/resources

Engineers meet to inspire the next generation

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On Tuesday 13th September, Engineers across the West of England gathered at UWE Bristol to glean insights into how to ‘Inspire young people in Engineering’.

The 20 diverse engineers were led through the “how to” of engaging & inspiring children by the science communication experts from local Bristol planetarium company, Explorer Dome.

Explorer Dome have been travelling throughout the country for over 20 years, providing children with a science experience inside their awe-inspiring inflatable planetariums. They drew on this wealth of experience at the training session, to guide the engineers through the basics, with plenty of examples and opportunities for the engineers to ‘have a go’.

Attendees reported an overall increase in confidence in delivering engineering outreach to children and said the following:

“Great top tips! [I have a] better idea of how to interact and communicate science with children.”

Presenters know what they’re doing! Inspiring and I hope I can be a good communicator like them someday.”

Really helpful content and activities.”

With more diverse representation recognised as an important factor to increase the numbers and diversity of engineers joining the workforce, it was great to have so many female engineers present (13 out of 20 attendees), as well as engineers from range of ethnic backgrounds. Thanks to everyone who joined us and we wish you the best with your school outreach!

What’s next to inspire the next generation of engineers?

This training was funded as part of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s public engagement grant scheme – Ingenious – secured by UWE. This Ingenious funding will also be used to extend the impact of Explorer Dome’s ‘We Make Our Future’ show – a show all about engineering a sustainable future.

The show was was originally developed in 2021 as a collaboration between Explorer Dome and UWE Engineering’s outreach team, with initial funding from the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) initiative. Now Ingenious funds are enabling the team to take ‘We Make our Future’ into schools in areas of socioeconomic deprivation in the West of England.

The team is also extending some of the content of the show – adding in videos from local engineers, to showcase the breadth of people in engineering and inspire the diverse and socially conscious engineers of tomorrow. 

Some of the engineers seen at training this month, may well become those inspirational role models showcased inside the planetarium in the coming months!

Additional Information

UWE Engineering

You can find out more about UWE Engineering and the activities of the Outreach team on the UWE Engineering our Future website.

Explorer Dome

Explorer Dome is an internationally known, vibrant, popular science outreach organisation.
They travel across the UK presenting live science shows for schools, festivals and special events. Hands-on demonstrations and stunning visuals combined with knowledgeable, enthusiastic and professional presenters: Explorer Dome is presenter-led, lively, interactive and fun!

Royal Academy of Engineering – Ingenious: public engagement awards

Ingenious is an awards scheme for projects that engage the public with engineers and engineering while providing engineers with skills and opportunities in public engagement.

They prioritise projects that reach diverse and underrepresented audiences including communities in the most deprived neighbourhoods in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and that engage with engineers and people of different genders, ages and ethnic backgrounds.

DETI

DETI is funded by the West of England Combined Authority; it is transforming engineering for the digital era and inspiring the next generation of engineers. It is helping identify the technologies that will drive innovation in developing sustainable products, systems, businesses, infrastructure and transport that underpin a net zero environment. It is creating a new, diverse engineering community and systems to investigate, develop & demonstrate the advanced digital technologies and skills needed for the sustainable products of the future.

Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) is a strategic programme of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), delivered by the National Composites Centre (NCC) in partnership with the Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS), Digital Catapult, the University of the West of England (UWE), the University of Bristol, and the University of Bath. WECA funding of £5m is match funded by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.

UWE’s Engineering Family Fun Day a Great Success!

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Families from around Bristol recently came to UWE’s brand new School of Engineering building to enjoy a range of free science and engineering-based activities.

The families that came to the event explored different aspects of engineering such as coding and robotics through LEGO Mindstorm and Pepper (our humanoid robot), digitally engineering solutions to citywide problems through Minecraft, designing the best wind turbine blade in our craft activity, and other stations featuring, eco-houses, crafting and a free planetarium show from Explorer Dome.

The visitors to UWE’s new Engineering building were wowed by the space available to student engineers and also by an exhibition of children’s inventions. The inventions were submitted to the Leaders Award competition – a nationwide scheme that encourages children to solve problems using engineering thinking.

The event was a perfect opportunity to inspire younger children to think like engineers whilst having fun along the way, as well as introducing them to technology that they may not have been able to interact with otherwise. One 13 year old visitor exclaimed how much she loved the fun day saying one day she “would like to come here herself (UWE) and learn more” whilst another couldn’t wait to get home and try to make their own robots.

We would like to thank all the staff of UWE, helpers, and students that made this event happen for making it an amazing day!

A toolkit and training for youth climate social action

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A toolkit and training for effective youth climate comms and social action

UWE Bristol’s Science Communication Unit (SCU) is launching a new Youth Climate Action Toolkit to empower young people to act on things that matter to them. The toolkit is suitable for 16-24-year-olds, and we encourage you to please download and share the kit with any (young) person you think may benefit from these tools!

The newly developed toolkit has been produced in partnership with young people from the Avon Schools Eco Network, following pilot training held with the DETI Inspire team in the School of Engineering.

The pilot involved 12 young climate activists who learnt how to be more effective with their own campaigning, whilst forming the foundations of this new toolkit to support other young people. As well as empowering young people to act, the toolkit aims to speak with and engage diverse audiences that may not otherwise take part (e.g., through filmmaking, persuasive writing and interactive stalls, etc).

What is inside the toolkit?

To allow any young person to use the materials independently of the training, the toolkit has been designed to stand-alone or complement the training. It consists of four sections:

  • Section one: lays the foundations for effective team working, with a skills audit for young people to assess their baseline entrepreneurial skills for sustainability, and time set aside to define their action project based on need
  • Section two: encourages readers to understand different worldviews – including those from different sides of the political spectrum, and people in positions of power and influence
  • Section three: drills down into the communication methods, allowing readers to select the right method for their audience and to prototype and test their communications
  • Section four: encourages readers to reflect on their learnings, re-assess their skills and evaluate the impact of their communications

Training in the community

The SCU team have also been delivering the Youth Climate Communications to local colleges and youth groups. The training is modular, which allows it to be adapted to suit the needs and interests of the organisations involved.

The training is already being modified to suit the needs of one college, where they have aims to support a more sustainable educational environment by delivering to their students over a two-week period at the end of term. Students will vote on a priority for action within their college and then work in teams, with the support of a coach, developing a communications and behaviour change campaign which could then be delivered in the following term.

The young people’s experience of the programme is being evaluated to better understand whether their attitudes, skills and behaviours relating to sustainability, change as a result of the training. Findings will be shared on this blog later this year.

For empowerment programmes

Meanwhile, aspects of the training are also being delivered to participants of more established empowerment programmes, such as this year’s Catalyse Change programme, Bristol Education Partnership’s Climate Challenge and The Global Goals Centre’s Groundbreakers awards, with the toolkit also featuring in the Groundbreakers’ action pack.

A future aim of the project is to deliver the training online to youth groups and educational establishments across the country, and beyond, with training provided to educators to deliver the programme themselves. For a taster of what this training could look like, head to our YouTube where you can access the social media component of the training.

Where it all began

The training emerged from conversations among the SCU and colleagues about the desire to share our knowledge on climate communications and active citizenship more broadly, so when a funding opportunity arose the Unit was quick to pull together a team to make their dream a reality. The all-female team consists of academics and researchers in disciplines ranging from human geography, engineering, and environmental anthropology – to building physics and entrepreneurship. What unites them is a common interest in supporting young people to develop the skills and confidence they need to take action about things that matter to them.

This training is the first offering from UWE’s Climate Action Hub, also established by the SCU. The Hub is a place for researchers and students to connect with communities for climate action. There is already some work on campus doing just this, such as the children’s workshops delivered by DETI Inspire and Inspire Sustainability, but this is the first time training has been put in place to support the University and communities to do more.

To find out more about the in-person and online toolkit or to connect to the Climate Action Hub, email project manager Sophie Laggan.

To download the toolkit click here.

Family Fun day at UWE’s Engineering!

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Tickets are going fast for UWE’s family fun day – taking place on Saturday 25th June in the brand new Engineering building on UWE’s Frenchay campus.

Get your free tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/leaders-award-family-fun-day-tickets-344241203707

Running: 10am – 4:30pm

We’ll have lots of exciting activities for the whole family – all the best local science-y activities in one place – robots, Minecraft & an amazing FREE planetarium show!

UWE is bringing all this together to celebrate the amazing inventions children in the South-West designed for the Leaders Award competition – with shortlisted entries on display alongside the robots, music technology, crafty activities, eco-house activity and did I mention a FREE planetarium show?!

UWE Engineering inspires local children to redesign our world

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The Engineering Outreach team at UWE Bristol are sending engaging role models, alongside a fully immersive planetarium show, into schools to inspire local children to think creatively – like an engineer – and design a sustainable future for our planet.

The “We Make Our Future” show was developed in collaboration with the science entertainment wizards from Explorer Dome, the Bristol-based mobile planetarium company, and funded initially by the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) initiative. Today new support for the educational show has been announced by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s public engagement grant scheme – Ingenious.

This funding will allow Explorer Dome to take the show to 4000 more children in the West of England. As well as enabling the team to incorporate videos from local engineers, to showcase the breadth of people in engineering and inspire the diverse and socially conscious engineers of tomorrow. 

“There are so many inspiring engineers and careers in the West of England and we’ve been celebrating this diversity with our Engineering Curiosity card set as part of our DETI Inspire work,” said UWE Bristol’s project lead, Associate Professor Laura Fogg-Rogers.

“We’re now really excited to bring their stories to the big screen – inside a huge inflatable dome with surround sound to inspire the engineers of the future!”

We Make Our Future

The 360° digital projections in the mobile planetariums take children on a journey – exploring the history of human ingenuity, from the Stone Age to the Space Age, then pivoting to focus on humanity’s current big challenge – tackling climate change.

Reducing our carbon emissions means redesigning nearly everything we use in the modern world – a vast job that requires lots of imagination and a whole myriad of skills and techniques. And whilst the West of England is a hotbed for engineering, there is a shortfall of skills in the workforce.

This initiative looks to address the skills shortfall of the future by encouraging young people to see themselves as engineers. Role models are key to children envisioning themselves in future careers, which is why including diverse engineers is crucial.

“We were honoured to showcase our dome experience at COP26, and it was clear that seeing real-life engineers tackling these big problems was inspirational to audiences,” said Explorer Dome Director and Senior Presenter, Joshua Yates. “That’s why we want to hear from diverse engineers making a difference and support them to tell their stories to young people across the West”.  

In the next few months, the team at UWE Bristol and Explorer Dome will be recruiting local engineers and training them to engage young people, then selecting five engineers to make inspiring films in their workplaces. Training will enhance the engineers’ ability to communicate sustainability solutions in a positive way – something which is hugely important to change attitudes and behaviours towards climate action.

Films of sustainability engineers at their workplaces will showcase how the engineering design process can address the Climate and Ecological Emergency. All adding to the show’s ability to light up the imaginations of the next generation as it travels throughout the region.

If you’re a local engineer with a sustainability focus – please do get in touch to get involved with our training – louisa.cockbill@uwe.ac.uk

Additional information

The show was first presented to the public at the COP26 Planetarium in November 2021 and has now visited several schools in the region. The Ingenious bid enhances the legacy of the show, by enabling Explorer Dome to physically visit 10 schools, along with 10 Zoom shows, reaching around 4000 children aged 8 –13 years from across the West of England in total. All with no charge to the schools or children’s families.

Diversity in the engineering workforce is very low, therefore this project will target underrepresented populations many of which can be found in areas and schools within the top 25% most deprived neighbourhoods of the West of England.

UWE Engineering

You can find out more about UWE Engineering and the activities of the Outreach team on the UWE Engineering our Future website.

Explorer Dome

Explorer Dome is an internationally known, vibrant, popular science outreach organisation.
Based in Bristol, Birmingham and London, we travel across the UK presenting live science shows for schools, festivals and special events. Hands-on demonstrations and stunning visuals combined with knowledgeable, enthusiastic and professional presenters: Explorer Dome is presenter-led, lively, interactive and fun!

Royal Academy of Engineering – Ingenious: public engagement awards

Ingenious is an awards scheme for projects that engage the public with engineers and engineering while providing engineers with skills and opportunities in public engagement.

They prioritise projects that reach diverse and underrepresented audiences including communities in the most deprived neighbourhoods in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and that engage with engineers and people of different genders, ages and ethnic backgrounds.

DETI

DETI is funded by the West of England Combined Authority; it is transforming engineering for the digital era and inspiring the next generation of engineers. It is helping identify the technologies that will drive innovation in developing sustainable products, systems, businesses, infrastructure and transport that underpin a net zero environment. It is creating a new, diverse engineering community and systems to investigate, develop & demonstrate the advanced digital technologies and skills needed for the sustainable products of the future.

Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) is a strategic programme of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), delivered by the National Composites Centre (NCC) in partnership with the Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS), Digital Catapult, the University of the West of England (UWE), the University of Bristol, and the University of Bath. WECA funding of £5m is match funded by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.

Local Engineers wowed by children’s inventions

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Yesterday, a range of Engineers from across the South West scurried out of the rain and into UWE’s outreach classroom to find out what local children had invented in this round of – “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”

A nationwide competition, the engineers soon got dug into the entries (and the biscuits!) sharing the most inventive, interesting, and down-right crazy ones with the group.

“It’s fun!” said Paul Powell of Babcock International

Gill Richardson who works on rail projects at Porterbrook said, “There are some fascinating ideas…really inventive.”

For Darren Kewley, from the MOD, he returns year after year to these grading days to hear the stories.”I think my favourite part is seeing their personal stories come through – the real world problems they face and seeing them apply engineering to fix those problems.”

He gave an example that had particularly struck him. “One child explained how their Gran was in hospital and it broke their heart to see the problems she was facing. They explained in the letter that they hadn’t known what to do, but after hearing about this competition, realised that engineering could help.”

The kids taking part in this competition have got it – Engineering solves problems and can help make the world a better place!

And on that uplifting note, we look forward to find out the winners at the celebration day in June – thanks everyone for volunteering their time to make this competition great.

Science through stories

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Last week, UWE’s storytelling extraordinaire -Jane Carter – trained up 31 local scientists to make their selected STEM stereotype-busting books come alive for children.

This training is the first step in a new scientist storytelling programme in schools – launched by the DETI Inspire team at UWE Bristol, in collaboration with the West of England STEM Ambassador hub.

The Inspire team want every child in the West of England to see themselves as scientists, and are using books to immerse children in stories featuring women, people from black, Asian and minority ethnicity backgrounds and people with neurodiversity having science-y fun. All delivered by wonderfully inspiring STEM Ambassadors with their own unique story and passions to tell.

The “Curious Stories for Curious Children” model has previously been deployed in science-related locations across the city – but now we want to reach an even wider spread of children in Bristol’s schools.

The outreach classroom in UWE’s new Engineering Building was opened up for the training – which wasn’t for the faint hearted, whether online or in-person. The participants dived into the book “Tadpole’s promise” which led them along a tale of two star-crossed lovers (a tadpole & a caterpillar) as they explored ideas about how to introduce a book and build intrigue. All before the rather brutal ending!

It was a hands-on workshop, with every STEM Ambassador leaving with a book from our library tucked under their arm and some sparkling ideas on how best to engage children with the content.

We can’t wait to hear how the kids find the storytelling sessions!

Be inspired by children’s innovations

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On Wednesday 6th April – pop along to the Prototype and Play lab in UWE’s School of Engineering for an hour (or as long as you want) to take a look at some of the intriguing inventions school children have been coming up with.

Children all over the country are currently furiously scribbling designs – all intended to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. They are entering those ideas into the Leaders Award – and thousands of those entries will turn up at UWE Bristol (the Leaders Awards partner in the South West) for grading by our lovely local engineers.

Grading isn’t an onerous process – quite the opposite – you’ll simply be flicking through some drawings and putting the most interesting/credible ideas through to be shortlisted. Whilst being plied with tea and coffee plus biscuits (and maybe cake?!) of course.

Every year grading participants really enjoy the experience and leave feeling inspired and intrigued by ideas such as, solar powered blankets or a variable light braking system on cars.

When: Wednesday 6th April – drop in sessions – come along whenever suits you

Location: 4Z002 (the Prototype & Play lab) in UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering (Frenchay Campus)

Contact: louisa.cockbill@uwe.ac.uk for more information and sign up here – we like to know how many people to expect (for biscuit buying purposes)

You can see the Leaders Award process below – all starting with the challenge “If you were an engineer, what would you do?” Step 6 – grading is where you would be helping out.

STEM through storytelling

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Sign up to help show children that STEM is for everyone!

This year, the DETI Inspire team at UWE Bristol, in collaboration with the West of England STEM Ambassador hub, are launching a scientist storytelling programme in schools.

Why?

We want every child in the West of England to see themselves as scientists, and what better way than through immersing them in stories featuring women, people from black, Asian and minority ethnicity backgrounds and people with neurodiversity having science-y fun. All delivered by you, a real-life scientist, with your own unique story and passions to tell.

And it works – we’ve previously deployed the “Curious Stories for Curious Children” template, but in locations all over the city, from the Suspension Bridge to local Libraries – and it was a great success!

STEM Ambassadors attended an inspiring training session and then spread out to cover 11 events over October half-term 2019, where they engaged nearly 300 children and adults both during the story and in the following Q&A sessions. My colleagues and I were extremely impressed with all the STEM Ambassadors involved and the responses they invoked.

Now we’re going into schools where we hope to engage with more children, and make it possible for them to envision themselves as scientists.

Get involved

But we need ambassadors to get involved- if you’re an approved STEM Ambassadors you can view the offer and sign up here: https://www.stem.org.uk/platform/activity/6267bfd8-d695-42be-bb04-caa12542e11a

And if all this tickles your fancy, then why not register as a STEM Ambassador to get involved. Plus you’ll get to see what other school outreach the STEM Ambassador Hub can connect you to.

Short training is provided!

As before, we’ll provide the storytelling training – scheduled for 3rd Feb, 4pm on UWE’s Frenchay campus. It’ll be led by UWE Bristol’s Associate Professor Jane Carter, who specialises in promoting reading with young children. (This training session isn’t mandatory, but I attended it last time – it really was brilliant and so worth trying to get along to)

What books?

We have a library of books, specially selected to change perceptions of what science is and who scientists are. Once you’re signed up, we’ll match you with a great stereotype-challenging (and super fun) science-y book and fix a date for you to go into school. (And if you want to go into your local school – please do let us know)

You can check out the book list here and I hope to meet many of you on Feb 3rd!

A STEM Ambassador storytelling at We the Curious in October 2019

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