Shining a light on green job pathways for the next generation

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Today marks the launch of a new year-long programme that aims to inspire and motivate young people in the West of England to pursue green career pathways. Known as Inspire Sustainability, it is one of three West of England Combined Authority (WECA)-funded initiatives as part of the Green Futures Fund, that, if successful, could be replicated and scaled to meet the region’s Climate Emergency Plan and Net Zero ambition.

This announcement builds on recent WECA support of other green skills initiatives in local schools, with West of England Mayor Dan Norris awarding the first green jobs grant for three schools to develop a special environmental careers programme -read more here.

Inspire Sustainability: in a nutshell

Developed in collaboration with UWE-Bristol’s Science Communication Unit, Cabot Learning Federation, Avon Schools Eco Network and STEM Ambassadors West of England, the programme was developed as part of the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Inspire programme. Inspire Sustainability will expand the region’s existing hub of sustainability skills education and training to highlight the region’s leading green skills and expertise in the labour market. Working in partnership, the consortium will deliver three areas of work to three pilot schools; Hans Price Academy in North Somerset, Bristol Brunel Academy in Bristol, and Digitech in South Gloucestershire.  The project includes:

  1. All-school engagement: tailored lessons, talks and careers events with diverse role models, culminating in a whole-school Sustainability Summit.
  2. Eco Council engagement: Eco Action Plan co-development to support the schools achieve Eco School status
  3. Teacher engagement: training so that teachers have the confidence to engage young people on these topics and support them to imagine a future where they can see themselves playing an active role in shaping development.

Once piloted, the outcomes will be shared widely to primary and secondary schools as well as to educational professionals and academics through the consortium’s networks.

West of England Mayor Dan Norris with Year 10 pupils from Orchard School at the Youth Engineering for Environmental Sustainability Summit in October 2021

Building on what works

The Inspire Sustainability approach builds on tried and tested methods explored in DETI Inspire, which has engaged over 7,000 children and young people in the West of England on engineering for sustainability.

Consortium member UWE-Bristol’s Science Communication Unit has a track record of working with and training diverse stakeholders to reach sustainability goals. In 2021, the Unit launched its Climate Action Hub to highlight the existing work of students and academics in this space, as well as to offer support and training to further amplify climate action. Currently it is delivering climate communications training to young people and supporting them to act on things that matter to them. The Youth Climate Communications toolkit will be used to develop the teacher engagement portion of Inspire Sustainability.

Meanwhile, the STEM Ambassador programme will be key to recruiting diverse green role models while Avon Schools Eco Network will use their expertise to support the schools to develop their action plans.

If you are interested to know more about any of this work, please contact project manager Sophie Laggan.


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.

Youth Climate Communications: a pilot

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Author Sophie Laggan.

On 24th February, 12 young people, aged 15-24, headed to UWE’s Prototype and Play Lab, in the School of Engineering, for a training day in Climate Communications. Passionate about addressing the climate and ecological emergency, and eager to learn and connect with likeminded people, the delegates came from across the Bristol area, with representation from five different schools/colleges and from the University.

With over half of young people reported to experience some form of climate-related anxiety (Hickman et al. 2021) – this training emerged out of the collective interest of researchers at UWE (from the Science Communication Unit, FET, ABE and DGEM) keen to share their knowledge with, and empower, the younger generation.

How to address climate anxiety

To steer young people away from overwhelm, timely action, forethought and trust in science are needed (Manzanedo & Manning, 2020). And according to a research project by Climate Outreach, to resonate with young people we, as adults, need to validate their negative thoughts while avoiding overly optimistic communications, and provide resources that can alleviate their anxiety.

Drawing on this research, and the interests of young people, the Science Communication Unit shaped the programme of activities for a pilot session with young people.

On the day

Start with the why”

Associate Professor Laura Fogg-Rogers and Research Fellow Sophie Laggan started the training by explaining that different ways of viewing the world shape how we make decisions and the only way to forge meaningful dialogue and promote pro-environmental change is through meeting people where they’re at. They used the example of solar panels – where one household might buy solar panels for environmental reasons, others do so out of economic/energy security, and others simply because they follow the ‘norm’ – their neighbours did it.

The participants ran with this idea in a role-playing exercise where they tried to convince someone ‘not like them’ – and in a position of power and influence – to install solar panels on the roof of their school. With a bit of context about what makes their partner tick, the participants were able to tap into the other person’s values and use it to their advantage.

Sustainable Housing activity

Following lunch and a tour of the Campus’s community garden, the group returned for an engagement activity on passive houses with Dr Deborah Adkins. Each table were given a wooden replica of a typical UK house and asked to stick post-its on the areas they thought could be improved for sustainability, everything from solar panels to insulation and green roofs. The task was accompanied by a short presentation, allowing the participants to learn more about sustainable housing.

Deborah Adkins - greener homes | Administration and support services |  Imperial College London

Designing their own engagement activity

Deborah’s session was followed by an in-depth explanation of the value of physical engagement activities, by Sophie, with the chance for each participant to prototype their design for an engagement activity based on the issue that mattered to them, be that local food or slow fashion. Their issues of concern were formulated in the opening session of the day – “Start with the why”.

Filming sustainability

The day was concluded with top tips by Josh Warren on filmmaking on a budget, before the young people were set to task on recording their own short film on a sustainability topic. The group enjoyed watching each other’s films and spent the last few minutes of the day reflecting on how valuable the day was for their activism and general understanding of people ‘not like them’.


Climate Anxiety post-training?

Before and after surveys, showed that the young people’s negative thoughts (scared, angry, concerned, powerless, guilty, confused) all reduced following the training (except for mournful) and positive thoughts increased (empowered, hopeful, optimistic and determined).

Confidence in communication skills also increased. For instance, 100% felt confident/very confident in engaging their audience after the training, compared to just 11% (N=1) before.

Next steps

Participants suggested that training on social media, graphics and poster design would be useful, and so the team will shortly launch a social media campaign training event for the cohort.

Shortly after the training day the team found out they were successful in their bid to the HEIF FET-FBL Award! This means the training can be replicated for different youth groups, with a focus on those from more diverse backgrounds. And enables them to create e-learnings and printable toolkits.

This work on climate anxiety in young people sits under the umbrella of the Climate Action Hub at UWE, which acts as a space for researchers to connect with communities interested in tackling the climate and ecological emergency. To facilitate this exchange, the Hub is looking at setting up a Staff Network to allow staff the time to build these connections. If you are interested in connecting to the Hub in any way, or have ideas on how it should operate, then please contact Sophie.laggan@uwe.ac.uk.

This training was led by Research Fellow Sophie Laggan, Associate Professor Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers, Senior Lecturer Dr Deborah Adkins and Josh Warren.

References:

Hickman, C., Marks, E., Pihkala, P., Clayton, S., Lewandowski, R.E., Mayall, E.E., Wray, B., Mellor, C. and van Susteren, L., 2021. Climate anxiety in children and young people and their beliefs about government responses to climate change: a global survey. The Lancet Planetary Health5(12), pp.e863-e873.

Manzanedo, R.D. and Manning, P., 2020. COVID-19: Lessons for the climate change emergency. Science of the Total Environment742, p.140563.

Taylor, S., 2020. Anxiety disorders, climate change, and the challenges ahead: Introduction to the special issue. Journal of Anxiety Disorders76, p.102313.

Climate Outreach, 2020, Britain Talks Climate, 18th November 2020. URL: https://climateoutreach.org/reports/britain-talks-climate/

DETI Inspire release Engagement Activity Report

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From September 2020 to December 2021, DETI Inspire has delivered an impressive array of outputs and engagement activities. In that time, the team have directly engaged 6832 children and 221 teachers from 73 schools and community groups in the West of England, with an estimated 96,303 children reached altogether through dissemination efforts. Along the way, children have been able to have conversations with real-life engineers through (online) Q&A sessions, card games and skill shares. 441 engineers have so far shared their experiences, as well as at least 17 industry partners and three charities.

42% of total direct engagements (that’s 2,515 children!) came through in-person BoxED sessions, all four developed and launched by DETI Inspire in 2021: The West in Minecraft, We Make Our Future, Engineering Curiosity, and WeCount. 42% of all the schools engaged in these BoxED sessions came from areas within the most deprived 20% of the country, and a further 17% came from the most deprived 30%.

The last 20 months has seen the programme: establish a network of 102 engineers from diverse backgrounds; pair female junior engineers with senior female mentors; distribute 132 Engineering Curiosity card packs to schools and community groups and launch 40 Tik-Tok style videos to accompany them; host a Sustainable Solutions Summit for 16-18-year-olds; champion sustainable engineering at COP26; beam in engineers to 3,500 children during the height of the pandemic; and reach over 250,000 people through social media.

Despite another year of uncertainty, with rules around in-person events frequently changing, the DETI Inspire programme has excelled under the circumstances. Adapting to the changing rules and guidance, the team managed to engage in-person when they could – enriching children and young people’s cultural experiences, limited by the pandemic – and offer well attended online events when they could not. For instance, from two online events alone, DETI Inspire reached 9,000 children and young people.

DETI Inspire will continue to deliver BoxED activities to schools across the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), with a full calendar of bookings right up until June. The programme will also support this year’s Leaders Award, Great Science Share, and take part in the long-awaited return of Bristol’s Storytale Festival, among other activities. DETI Inspire is excelling in promoting engineering for sustainability among children, young people and adults from diverse backgrounds, not only in the West of England, but also nationally and across Europe.

You can access the full report here https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/9031804


DETI Inspire is managed by UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering in partnership with the Science Communication Unit, with funding from the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI). The project is run in collaboration with the West of England STEM Ambassador Hub, operated by Graphic Science.

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. DETI is funded by £5m from WECA with co-investment from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry. 

Future Brunels re-design the SS Great Britain in DETI Inspire’s ‘The West in Minecraft’

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Some of the West’s talented young engineers who are part of the Future Brunels programme, were able to redesign the SS Great Britain last week. 

‘The West in Minecraft’ is a session from the DETI Inspire team that allows the students to use the hugely popular game Minecraft to re-engineer and re-design the West’s engineering landmarks.  Including of course, Brunel’s famous ship. 

The young engineers spent the day at the ship with the DETI Inspire team, experiencing Brunel’s design first-hand.  Before using the Minecraft programme to prototype and test their creative ideas and modifications.  Among the ideas, were adding wings to the ship, a nuclear reactor as a power source, and a device to harness lightning strikes to charge an electric engine. 

The aim of The West in Minecraft session is to engage children in digital engineering by using Minecraft and the unique Bristol and Bath worlds as an engaging and accessible hook.  It allows space for creativity and problem-solving within the digital space, with the session framed with the Engineering Design Process to harbour an engineering mindset in the students.  All whilst being fun and familiar, with most students having lots of prior knowledge of the Minecraft game.

In addition to the Minecraft activity, the DETI Inspire team engaged other Future Brunels with an engineering challenge to design and build modifications to drones, and then pilot their creations to rescue a box of cute kittens from rising lava – aided by a hint of imagination, of course!

To read more about The West in Minecraft session, please head to the DETI Inspire resources site here.  Where you can also watch the promotional video, showing the SS Great Britain and some other engineering designs from students across the West.

There, you can also book future free sessions for schools and community groups of the West; to bring the West in Minecraft to more young audiences.

The West in Minecraft and subsequent worlds are developed with the support of Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, and Science Hunters through Building to Break Barriers (funded by a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grant)

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!

Volunteers wanted for a careers panel discussion with a twist!

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The STEM Ambassador hub for the West of England have partnered with the Institution of Engineering and Technology to host a series of online events in March 2022, and are looking for volunteer guests to take part.

What’s My Line?

The events are designed to enthuse Further Education (FE) tutors with the diversity of STEM activity happening in the region and showcase the career opportunities available for their students in modern STEM workplaces.

Guests will provide clues about their jobs, then answer yes or no questions as participants try to guess what it is they do. Then you can inspire them with the juicy details!

There are 6 events in total with each one linked to an industry of interest to the region. As a Guest you’ll take part in the event most closely aligned to what you do.

Line Up

  • Tuesday 15th March: Advanced Manufacturing
  • Thursday 17th March: Construction
  • Tuesday 22nd March: Life Sciences
  • Thursday 24th March: Healthcare
  • Tuesday 29th March: Computing & Digital
  • Thursday 31st March: Cyber Security

Each event will run on Zoom from 4pm – 5:30pm.

Get Involved!

If you are interested in becoming a Guest then please contact ambassadors@graphicscience.co.uk with a brief description of who you work for and what work you do, and indicate which event(s) you think you would be a good fit for. The organisers will then follow up with you to confirm participation.

More details

Your clues will be provided beforehand to intrigue participants, then on the night you will have some time to go into more details: What is the impact of your work? Who does it help? How cool is it? How important is it? How much satisfaction do you get from it? Why should young people care about it? What’s the future of it?

The STEM Ambassador are also keen to know how your work intersects with sustainability – how your work contributes to reducing carbon emissions and helping societies work towards becoming carbon net zero.

You can just talk, but audio-visual additions are welcome too. And you can take part from wherever you think is most appropriate, as long as you have a reliable connection to the internet.

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