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 BAME 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

Elm Park Primary think up solutions to climate change

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UWE Bristol’s DETI Inspire team have taken their solutions focused climate change activity into schools for the first time last week (11th Jan 2022).

Year 5 and 6 classes at Elm Park Primary, took part in the curriculum-linked activities, which support children to learn about the grand challenges’ cities face in relation to urban travel, air pollution and the steps they can take collectively to make their school streets, and cities, safer, healthier and happier.

The interactive activities included a traffic survey, mapping of routes to school, graph making and solutions. Children were also shown how the Telraam traffic counting sensors can be used with a Raspberry Pi to assess urban travel.

Some of the children’s ideas can be seen below:

The workshop was based on the WeCount Schools resources, created as part of the EU citizen science project WeCount, and we’ve got more schools booked in for session delivery.

Schools in the West of England can book a FREE WeCount Schools workshop, delivered by trained outreach coordinators from UWE Bristol by completing this online booking form.

And if you’re keen for your school to have their own traffic counting sensors, WeCount still have 5 sensors left to give away to schools across the West of England. Contact engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk to apply.

Two members of team DETI arrived at Elm Park bright and early to deliver the outreach sessions!

New round of peer mentoring and outreach project, Women Like Me, for 2022

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Women Like Me is a peer mentoring and outreach project, aimed at boosting female representation in engineering.

How does it work?

Women Like Me pairs senior women engineers with junior women engineers to undertake mentoring and engineering education outreach in the Bristol and Bath area. Engineering is a creative, socially conscious, and collaborative discipline, and this project aims to support girls and women to make a difference in society.

Why is this important?

Only 12% of engineers in the UK are women. In order to support female engineers, more girls need to connect with engineering as a career, with positive female role models, and more women need to be supported to make a difference in the workplace.

Women Like Me is addressing this by pairing together women engineers to provide career and public engagement mentoring. Participating engineers deliver engineering engagement activities in local schools and at local public events, providing positive role models for young girls. Through this approach, the project will lead to impact both in the workplace today, and for the future of the engineering profession.

Who can take part?

Mid-career and early career female engineers working in the Bristol and Bath area can get involved in the project. Senior women engineers are those who have been working in engineering for at least five years. Junior women engineers are those with less experience than this, and can include apprentices, trainees, undergraduate and postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

What will it involve?

We will offer networking opportunities to all participants at the start (spring 2022) and end (winter 2022) of the project. We have an online training session planned for February, followed by an in-person networking event in March which will take place at UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering.

Senior engineers will receive support in mentoring and should meet with their junior engineer mentee at least twice during the project. This can take any form that best suits each pair.

Junior engineers will receive mentoring support from senior engineers and training in public engagement. They will then undertake at least three engineering outreach activities with local schools and public events. Coordination of activity is provided and supported by UWE.

Upcoming outreach activities include STEM workshops for schools and community groups, opportunities to get involved with regional competitions and celebration days such as the ‘If you were an engineer what would you do?’ competition by Primary Engineer, The Lego League, and the Great Science Share for Schools.

How do I sign up?

To take part in the project this year, interested participants should complete the appropriate online survey:

Senior Engineers (over 5 years experience) please complete this survey

Junior Engineers (less than 5 years experience) please complete this survey

The project coordinators will then be in touch having allocated the mentor/mentee pairs.

Want some more info?

This project was first launched in 2018 and is based in the Science Communication Unit and School of Engineering at UWE Bristol. The project is organised by Dr Laura Hobbs with support from Ana Bristow and Dr Louisa Cockbill, and was initiated by Dr Laura Fogg Rogers. It is supported by the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI).

You can read about the successes of the project in previous years and access the 2018-2019 project report. A paper in the Journal of Science Communication, Fogg-Rogers and Hobbs (2019) places Women Like Me in the context of recruitment and retention of women in engineering.

For any further information please email engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk or follow us on Twitter for updates.

How to make engineering for everyone

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The Engineering workforce in the UK is made up of only 12% Women and 7% of people from BAME backgrounds – so no wonder the sector is experiencing an employee shortfall! Engineering Industries are missing out on over half of the population, as well as, the vast range of experiences and perspectives that a diverse employee base brings to the table.

Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI)’s Innovate team at UWE Bristol wants to address the shortfall of engineers by finding how to best enable these underrepresented groups to enter and progress in the world of Engineering.

We asked Women, those with Neurodiversity, and people from Black, Asian, Brown and dual-heritage backgrounds, in the West of England – to tell us what they needed – check out the summary doc below to find out more.

WeCount Schools resources featured in official British Science Week activity pack

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British Science Week is a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths that will take place between 11-20 March 2022

The British Science Week activity packs for 2022 have been launched today, providing over 40 simple, hands-on science activities which teachers, parents and community group leaders can use with students and children during British Science Week this year.

And one of the great resources featured in this year’s activity pack themed on ‘Growth’ is the WeCount for Net Zero Emissions pack, which explores proportion and graphs, as well as data collection, through the concept of climate change.

With packs available for primary, secondary and community groups, everyone can get involved with the WeCount activity this British Science Week.

The WeCount for Net Zero Emissions pack was developed by the DETI Inspire team with funding from the Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) initiative based at UWE Bristol. The materials are based on the WeCount Schools resources, created as part of the EU citizen science project WeCount.

WeCount Schools resources cover a wide range of subjects, all curriculum linked, supporting children to learn about the grand challenges’ cities face in relation to urban travel, air pollution and the steps they can take collectively to make their school streets, and cities, safer, healthier and happier.

You can read more about and download the WeCount Schools resource packs here.

Schools in the West of England can book a FREE WeCount Schools workshop, delivered by trained outreach coordinators from UWE Bristol by completing this online booking form.

Keen to equip local schools with their own traffic counting sensors, WeCount still have 5 sensors left to give away to schools across the West of England. Contact engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk to apply.

DETI Innovate delivers on Big Data CPD course

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There’s a huge digital engineering skills shortfall and employment gap in the UK’s engineering workforce. To help address that shortfall, UWE Bristol launched the new Big Data course in November 2021.

UWE Bristol runs the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Innovate programme in the West of England – identifying what skills need boosting and then designing appropriate training courses – all to enable the digital transition of local industry supported by DETI’s main programme.

Big Data

With the high adoption rate of sensors and connected devices in manufacturing industries, there has been a huge increase in data points available. If analysed, this Big Data has potential to reveal new information and patterns that can enable the improvement of process efficiency.

Technicians identified Big data analysis as a core emerging area they lacked knowledge and analytic skills in, so UWE Bristol designed a course to upskill DETI partners employees.

Upskilling

The Big Data CPD course covered the fundamentals of Big Data concepts and the key tools and systems for practically applying the analytics. Topics covered included:

  • Introduction to Big Data
  • SQL vs NoSQL databases
  • Data Quality
  • Knowledge Retrieval

On 24th November 2021, Professor Kamran Munir & Dr Ahsan Ikram from UWE Bristol’s Department of Computer Science, delivered the course online to 15 participants from UWE, the University of Bath, the National Composites Centre and other local industries.

Growing the CPD offer

DETI Innovate recognises the need for continuing to offer this course to reach more of the Engineering workforce, therefore UWE Bristol are working to develop the content into a virtual pre-recorded offering. This will enable flexible self-study and the opportunity to revisit material. We’ll keep our readers informed of when this becomes available.

In addition to Big Data upskilling, UWE Bristol is assisting the NCC to deliver another DETI Innovate course on 5G Encode (AI and VR) – expected to be delivered in February.

If you have any questions about the Big Data or 5G Encode courses, our DETI Innovate colleague Dr. Halimah Abdullahi can be contacted on halimah.abdullahi@uwe.ac.uk.

UWE works alongside children in Easton to monitor local air quality

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Photographer Anya Agulova 

Academics and students from a number of UWE Bristol departments are collaborating with the local community in Easton to investigate, on a granular real-time level, air quality and traffic’s impact on the local high-street.

St. Mark’s Road in Easton is a high-street bucking the trend, with new shops popping up in an amazing and unusual Covid recovery. The local community’s clear commitment to investing in their high-street isn’t limited to popping into local shops – residents are beginning to be interested in how traffic affects the street they’re proud of.

In the last few years air quality sensors that measure pollutants as small as 2.5 microns have begun to pop up all over the world, and St. Mark’s Road has been part of this. Although you wouldn’t notice on walking down the street.

“The sensors need to be waterproofed, so we put them into the drainpipes – nice and easy and out of the way,” said Stuart Phelps from Baggator (a community organisation offering a range of innovative programmes for young people in the local area) who has been the driver behind much of the project.

Easton Data Garden is growing

It’s not very glamorous, but these hidden sensors are providing real-world information that are inspiring local residents. Particularly the weekly children’s science and technology club – the ‘Easton Data Garden’ – which UWE Bristol have been heavily involved in.

“The data gathered from the sensors on St. Mark’s Road gets the kids thinking about what that means in the real world,” explained Stuart. “Seeing this information in real-time is changing their view of science.”

And the children are about to take part in workshops, alongside academics from UWE Bristol and the University of Bath, to build new sensors for installation in more pieces of drainpipe on St Mark’s Road.

New sensors from the University of Bath and the European Space Agency, will give a detailed real-time readout of nitrogen dioxide (a significant greenhouse gas), carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ammonia and ozone. These will be installed alongside traffic monitors – supplied by UWE Bristol’s Digital Engineering Technology Innovation (DETI) Inspire project, which links to the EU citizen science project WeCount.

“Working with Baggator and the Easton Data Garden is a fantastic example of local residents leading on citizen science in their own area,” said DETI Inspire lead, Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers.

“The young people and their mentors came up with this exciting idea to use digital engineering to link local air quality monitors with traffic counting sensors, providing a real-time picture of how traffic impacts air quality on a granular scale.

“We are really excited to see how this develops and are looking forward to supporting their science learning and community development!”

That’s a lot of great data to look at and residents, and particularly the children in Easton Data Garden, want to see the results and identify any problems on their high-street. Again, UWE is stepping up to the ‘mark’, with several teams of students working on projects to help highlight St. Mark’s unique data set.

UWE students get visuals on the data

This includes a UWE Computer Science and Creative Technology student team undertaking the creation of a bespoke St. Mark’s Road website – where local news sits alongside local air quality data.

But Stuart’s not stopping there. He has a vision for this website to be viewed from a St. Mark’s shop window, with real-time data coming in from sensors mounted directly above the shop. And again, a student digital design team under UWE Bristol’s Dr Mic Palmer’s direction, are developing a bespoke display screen for residents.

Future of St. Mark’s Road

In the next few weeks, children from the Easton Data Garden club will bring their families along to workshops to build the sensors. Installation will happen soon after, all ready to start feeding delicious data into the website UWE students will deliver at the end of January. And viewed at the local corner shop!

All the while, local Easton children will be working alongside academics, asking questions about the effectiveness of real-world interventions, like, how do rumble strips impact on traffic speed and then air pollution? This will be the first time citizens have combined these technologies to directly test the impact of interventions on their streets – a necessary step to improve high streets.

For Stuart, almost the most important impact of this project, is the interactions made possible between the academics and children in Easton.

“The kids here wouldn’t normally have exposure to University and the people who work there, this project means they are getting to have those interactions” explained Stuart. “And the children are interested because it’s relevant to them, and because the academics are genuinely listening to what they have to say.”

Work alongside UWE academics is also a key part of another strand of Stuart’s work – supporting the local Muslim community to celebrate the end of Eid with a huge light display (called the Grand Iftar). Children in Easton Data Garden are again collaborating with UWE Bristol academics to design light patterns to be displayed on/in the Jamia Masjid Mosque dome.

We’ll be updating on the results coming out of Easton Data Garden in the next few months and later on in 2022 you can expect to see some amazing images from the Grand Iftar celebration.

See more about Easton Data Garden (& UWE Bristol’s involvement!) in the video below:


Prototype and Play lab open for school bookings

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The Prototype and Play lab, a purpose-built classroom in UWE Bristol’s new School of Engineering building, is now open and the DETI Inspire team have hosted their first school sessions this week.

The bright and colourful lab is fully equipped for a class of 30 pupils, and also functions as a lending library for local schools and community groups. The engineering outreach equipment includes robotics (Lego Mindstorms, Thymios, MekaMon and more!), drones, VR goggles and a library of inspiring STEM themed storybooks, all of which can be loaned out to schools and local groups for use in their own engineering activities, or with the support of our trained outreach coordinators and student engineering ambassadors.

Earlier this week, two classes from Our Lady of Lourdes Primary school visited the lab, where they each took part in an engineering outreach session called The West in Minecraft, and enjoyed a tour of the engineering building including the digital gallery courtesy of Andy Hill.

A huge thank you to Andy for coordinating the tour and sharing the experience of virtual reality with the children – they had a brilliant time!

Both classes also got to meet some of our Student Engineer Ambassadors, who were on hand throughout the day to answer questions from the pupils about what it is like to be an engineer and what it is like to study engineering at university. Thank you Student Ambassadors you were fantastic!

Education Coordinator for the DETI Inspire project, Josh Warren, delivered The West in Minecraft session, which had pupils crafting improvements to their home city of Bristol and imagining solutions to problems in their local communities, all using the popular block-building video game Minecraft.

Whilst the pupils were exploring the digital gallery, they had the opportunity to meet with some of our Student Engineers and play with our Engineering Curiosity top trump cards, discovering new engineering careers and skills.

The West in Minecraft and Engineering Curiosity are two of the workshops currently on offer by the School of Engineering DETI Inspire team. A full list of workshops can be found at https://digitaltrailblazers.net/resources or in the brochure available for download below.

Thanks to funding from the Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) initiative, these workshops are currently free for all schools in the West of England area, and can be delivered in the Prototype and Play lab or at school.

If you would like to book a free workshop please complete this online booking form.

Prototype and Play Lab now open!

Youth discuss waste reduction for Net Zero 2030

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During the three day Youth Engineering for Environmental Sustainability Summit (YEESS), 11-13 October 2021, young people across the West of England discussed carbon-emission cutting solutions with experts, before quizzing local politicians on their Climate Action strategies.

There was lots of great discussion worth noting, so we’re reporting each day’s targets, questions and potential solutions in a three-part series.

Day 3: How might we reduce our waste by 65% by 2030?

Waste reduction is a core target mapped into the Bristol and West of England Climate Action Plans, and was a popular talking point amongst the KS4 and KS5 YEESS delegates at the summit on Wednesday 13th October. And Orchard School pupils had lots of great questions for West of England Mayor, Dan Norris, at the livestreamed Q&A session held in person at We The Curious.

What does rubbish have to do with the climate?

Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh, who works at the Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations, University of Bath, introduced the topic to YEESS delegates.

“Not only are mountains of waste bad for the environment and wildlife, but they’re also linked to increased carbon emissions. How? Well the more stuff we make, transport, and then throw away, the more emissions are wasted in the process. In fact, two thirds of the UK’s emissions come from the physical stuff we buy. We need to fundamentally rethink our throwaway culture.”

How to reduce waste by 65%?

YEESS delegates watched video postcards from engineers leading the way in waste reduction, and then discussed the various ideas presented, including:

Young people filled the online chat with questions on single use products, refill shops, landfill, recycling and retraining workers.

YEESS delegate Fking asked, “Do you think the economy might reach a stop when or if a ban on extracting new raw materials happens and many people lose their jobs due to the ban?”

James Osborne, manager of sustainable aviation projects at CFMS took on this tricky topic – “That’s an interesting point. The same was said about coal mines, and oil workers. But the government can help them to retrain to work in new, greener jobs.”

Another question from Hetty C was – “Do you think recycling and the effect waste can have on climate change is something that should be taught more in schools?

Fidel Olaye, Electronic Engineer at Babcock said, “Definitely! Awareness is really important right from a young age.”

Meanwhile at We The Curious, Year 10 students from Orchard School, Bristol, chatted face to face with inspirational UWE engineer, Dr Deborah Adkins, and came up with ideas like a tax on plastic and incentives to recycle and buy used items.

The West of England’s Climate Action Strategy

At the end of the day Orchard School students were joined by West of England Mayor Dan Norris, who, after being interviewed by various local radio and tv stations, answered pupils questions about the West of England’s Climate Action strategy.

Dan Norris was quizzed by Orchard School pupils at We The Curious

Dan kicked the livestream off by addressing one of the major concerns expressed by YEESS delegates throughout the summit, “One of the things that has been really important for me is that we really recognise that there is a climate emergency and we’ve got to do something about it.”

Savita Willmott, Chief Executive of the Natural History Consortium, chaired the Q&A session with lots of questions surrounding how to educate the public and get everyone onboard with climate action.

The mayor acknowledged that reducing carbon emissions by the 10% required each year to meet Net Zero 2030, was going to be tough. But he was encouraged by the positivity towards climate action he could see in the West of England and told students that their voices were needed to continue to push politicians to make the policy decisions necessary to achieve Net Zero.

Listen to Dan Norris’ Q&A session below:

For YEESS resources, check out Digital Trailblazers site, and to view more of the discussion on the day, take a look at the YEESS website.

Big Data CPD Course

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In line with fulfilling the needs of the Digital Skills requirement in the Engineering sector, UWE Bristol’s DETI Skills programme with its partner companies are delivering a free skills and training CPD course on Big Data.   

The course is free for all to attend but is specifically targeted to Technicians, Engineers, Operators, and anyone interested in upskilling or reskilling their knowledge in the subject area.  

Mode of Delivery: Online 

Date:    24th November 2021  

Time:    10.00  am – 16.00 pm

Cost:     Free to attend

Activity: Explore analytics models 

Review: Online assessment to test the understanding of participants

Strategic Alignment

This course supports the learning and the development of skills to breach the huge skills and employment gap in the UK for current and future engineers of the workforce through DETI delivery programmes.

Course Objective: The Big Data course will introduce Big data concepts and its’ applications. 

What is Big Data? 

Big Data refers to the analysis of large datasets to discover trends, correlations, or other insights not easily visible with smaller datasets or the conventional processing methods. With the high rate of adoption of sensors and connected devices with the internet of things, there has been a huge increase in the data points created in the manufacturing industry with the rise in data availability.  

Big data in manufacturing can discover new information and identify patterns that enable them to improve processes, increase supply chain efficiency and identify variables that affect production 

CPD Course in Big Data

Learn the fundamentals of big data with this CPD course which is designed to introduce you to this in-demand field, and will teach you how to design and implement big data analytics solutions. Delegates will also learn key tools and systems for working with big data such as Hadoop and Spark, and learn how to implement NoSQL data storage and processing solutions.

Course Delivery: 

Introduction to Big Data

  • Defining Big Data and sources of Big Data
  • The four dimensions of Big Data: Volume, velocity, variety, veracity
  • Big Data applications/examples in business
  • Delivering business benefit from Big Data
  • Establishing the business importance of Big Data

SQL Databases vs. NoSQL Databases 

  • Understand the growing amounts of data
  • RDBMSs ACID, and Introduction to NoSQL databases
  • Understanding the difference between a relational DBMS and a NoSQL database
  • Identifying the need to employ a NoSQL DB
  • Overview of Hadoop and Related Technologies 

Data Quality

  • Metrics and Measures: Why are the metrics and measures important for data quality estimation and how to select appropriate and relevant metrics for a project?
  • Tools and Techniques: How to estimate data quality using some of the current tools and technologies? How to use the tools and advantages/disadvantages of various tools.

Knowledge Retrieval

  • Knowledge Extraction: Types of knowledge
  • The lifecycle of knowledge extraction from big data
  • An overview of core principles and techniques used to extract knowledge, for example, classification, clustering and regression analysis.

Assessment

There will be a Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) via mentimeter both mid way and at the end of the course to gauge the understating of participants.

Attending the Course

To register your place on the course contact Dr. Ramin Amali  – ramin2.amali@uwe.ac.uk  or Dr. Halimah Abdullahi – halimah.abdullahi@uwe.ac.uk