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!

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.

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.

Youth discuss reducing the carbon cost of heating 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 going to report each day’s targets, questions and potential solutions in a three-part series.

Day 2: How might we heat our homes without fossil fuels by 2030?

Moving heating reliance away from fossil fuels is a core target mapped into the local Climate Action Plans, and after exploring the hot topic, KS4 and KS5 YEESS delegates quizzed South Gloucestershire Councillor Toby Savage and Bath & North East Somerset Councillor Sarah Warren on their strategies.

Why can’t we keep using gas boilers?

Introducing the issue – Ruzanna Chitchyna, an associate Professor at the Cabot Institute, University of Bristol – “In the UK, most homes are heated via a gas boiler. Gas is a fossil fuel, with home heating accounting for 14% of our carbon emissions. The rules are already changing, with all new homes finding fossil fuel alternatives by 2025. The next step will be retro-fitting – replacing our current home heating with climate friendly alternatives.”

Watch her video intro below:

How to heat our homes without fossil fuels?

YEESS delegates watched video postcards from engineers leading the shift in heating away from fossil fuels, and then discussed the various ideas presented, including:

On the online chat, discussion was dominated by queries about causes of climate change, possibilities with nuclear power, how to personally reduce emissions and jobs of the future.

YEESS delegate Natalie asked, “What do you think is the most influential thing we can do to help solve climate change?”

Dr Deborah Adkins, UWE Bristol’s Fellow in Sustainable Buildings, recommended she – “Read the IPCC (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) summary report 2021. Share what you’ve learnt from reading it with three people.”

Another great question came from delegate Issyprime – “What new and exciting jobs are out there for young people?”

James Osborne (who manages projects on sustainable aviation at CFMS) answered – “I think young people are living in a very interesting time – look around you & practically everything you see probably requires some changes to make it compatible with our climate goals.”

Our region’s Climate Action Strategy

Savita Willmott, Chief Executive of the Natural History Consortium, interviewed South Gloucestershire Councillor Toby Savage and Bath & North East Somerset (BANES) Councillor Sarah Warren, on their respective Climate Action Strategies.

Josh Warren (from the DETI Inspire team) works the livestream tech for the interview with South Gloucestershire Councillor Toby Savage (in person) and Bath & North East Somerset Council Councillor Sarah Warren (online)

Both Sarah and Toby gave YEESS delegates an overview on what their councils are doing to address both the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis.

This included an insight into elements of the local building plans, with Sarah speaking about BANES council demanding more energy efficiency from housing developers, as well as supporting retrofitting projects. And Toby highlighting an interest in South Gloucestershire council acquiring land in order to build more affordable homes.

Find out more in the recording interview below:

Interview with councillors on Tuesday 12th October 2021

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.

Getting kids into engineering through creative problem solving

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Primary Engineer have partnered with UWE Bristol to ask pupils between the ages of 3 to 19 years one question,

If you were an engineer, what would you do?”

From solar powered blankets to a variable light braking system on cars – ideas submitted for the Leaders Award wow UWE engineers. And every year UWE engineers team together to make one of the winning designs. See below the variable light braking system presented to young people at the award ceremony in 2019.

The Red Line Braking System was installed on a remote control car to show just how well it works!

How it works & what does UWE do?

Primary Engineer sets plans in motion to inspire children in answering the challenge. They pair schools with local engineers as well as running weekly live interviews with some of the most inspirational people in engineering (like our fantastic team at UWE).

Then pupils are invited to find a problem, draw, annotate their solution and write an accompanying letter, persuading an engineer to choose their design and build it!

At grading days held on campus -UWE engineers get the opportunity to be stunned by the ideas children in the West of England come up.

A central team then selects two winners from each year group across the region and UWE hosts the public exhibition (save the date – 24th June 2022).

Finally – UWE engineers get invited to pick one of the winning designs to build into a reality.

Want to get involved?

Inspire – would you like to speak to children about how cool engineering is? Get in touch!

Be inspired – want to see some of these ideas in the flesh? You can help out at a grading day (in April) or/and come along to the Awards Ceremony in June. Get in touch to find out more about either event!

Build – would you be interested in making a child’s invention into reality? Let us know!

You can find out more about the Leaders Award: www.leadersaward.com

New sustainability solutions show for schools heads to COP26!

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A new immersive experience developed by Explorer Dome in collaboration with the DETI Inspire team at UWE is being featured at the COP26 Green Zone this week.

We Make Our Future is a new interactive, educational & entertaining science show that celebrates the ingenuity of human engineering, addresses current issues around climate change and introduces digital engineering as a relevant and attainable aspiration for all young people.

The show is one of several educational workshops on offer from the DETI Inspire programme, designed to engage local children with design thinking for sustainability. For a full list of free workshops available for schools please visit https://digitaltrailblazers.net/resources or download the brochure below.

The show

We Make Our Future is a presenter-led experience which can be delivered inside Explorer Dome in schools.

When inside, full-dome digital projections allow you to visit engineering marvels from history and explore the pros and cons of modern life. Industry, technology and invention have progressed civilisation, but at what cost? Get to know how the Engineering Design Process and application of digital technology can make the world a better place for us all.

Free shows for West of England Schools

The Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) initiative have provided funding for 10 West of England schools* to experience this new show in the Explorer Dome inflatable planetarium for free! If you would like to bring the show to your school please apply for a free place by contacting deti@uwe.ac.uk

For any schools outside the West of England area, the show will also be available to book as part of Explorer Dome’s current programme of shows.

*Please note that free shows funded by DETI can only be offered to state schools in the West of England area with a high proportion of free school meals.

A pivotal moment in the fight against climate change

This November, the UK are hosting an event many believe to be the world’s best chance to get runaway climate change under control. COP26 is the 2021 United Nations climate change conference, bringing together almost every country on Earth for a global climate summit, to reach agreement on how to tackle climate change.

World leaders have been arriving in Glasgow this past week, alongside tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens for twelve days of talks. Throughout the duration of the summit, the Green Zone will be open to the public at the Glasgow Science Centre, where youth groups, civil society, academia, artists, and business from across the UK and all over the world will be hosting events, exhibitions, cultural performances, workshops and talks.

We Make Our Future has been selected to feature in the Green Zone from Nov 8-10. Keep an eye on our Twitter channel for updates from the team in Glasgow. If you are visiting during the summit, you can book your free Green Zone tickets here https://ukcop26.org/the-conference/green-zone-programme-of-events/

New jobs for a green transition

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Net Zero 2030 isn’t going to happen by itself – it will require a lot of work, with lots of amazing engineers to solve a myriad of challenges.

From figuring out how to insulate old houses well, to designing and building new energy distribution grids – at the “Sustainability solutions – Green Jobs in Engineering and Technology” event, 12 Oct 2021, local engineers discussed the engineering skills needed to address the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers, UWE Bristol, hosted the online event as part of DETI Inspire’s youth climate engineering summit – all about inspiring the next generation of sustainability-minded engineers (read more about the summit here).

The three talks were focused on:

  • The need for jobs in energy, and the transition challenge – Associate Professor Ruzanna Chitchyan, UoB Cabot Institute
  • How insulating our homes is a huge but necessary task for our workforce and all homeowners – Dr Deborah Adkins, UWE Bristol
  • How we need investment in jobs and skills now – Denis Fernando, Climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth

Watch two of the inspiring talks below and see how you can contribute to our future!

Youth discuss traffic 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 1 – How might we take 40% of traffic off our roads by 2030?

Traffic reduction is a core target mapped into the Bristol and West of England Climate Action Plans, and after exploring the topic, KS4 & KS5 pupils posed questions for Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees on his strategy for achieving traffic reduction.

Why do we need to slim down road traffic?

Dr Steve Melia, Senior Lecturer in Transport and Planning, UWE Bristol introduced the issue, explaining the patterns of increased traffic in the UK and introducing a few traffic reduction methods used across the world.

“Transport accounts for 27% of the UK’s carbon emissions, but is our fastest growing sector,” said Melia. He concluded that electrification wouldn’t be enough to reach carbon cutting targets and therefore traffic volume cutting methods will be required. See his video introduction below.

How to reduce traffic by 40%?

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

On the online chat, YEESS delegate Izaac O asked “Why will electrification on it’s own not be enough?”

He was answered by Fidel Olaye, Electronic Engineer at Babcock, “There’ll still be loads of traffic on the road and the generation of electric power used by electric cars isn’t great because pollutants are still produced.”

Discussion was dominated by questions over commuting times, electric cars and resistance to change; with young people steering towards trams in the city centre, but unconvinced by the idea of 15 minute cities.

Our city’s Climate Action strategy

Live stream of Roy Kareem interviewing Marvin Rees on Monday 11th Oct

Roy Kareem, Director of Bright Green Future, interviewed Bristol City Mayor Marvin Rees, who quickly picked up on the importance of engineers in managing the Climate Action response. “Fundamentally what we need to do is change the very systems that underpin city life – transport systems, energy systems, water systems, energy systems, housing systems; so we have the ability, and actually have no choice, other than to lead a low impact life,” said Rees.

In terms of transport, Rees outlined his vision – “The end goal is to have an underground over-ground for the city. An underground in the middle and an over-ground for the outside, that’s predictable, that’s fast, that’s decarbonised and that’s used by hundreds of thousands of people every day.”

Rees pointed out the need for long term financial support needed to support the infrastructure changes needed. He hopes that COP26 will help in releasing those funds from central government.

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.

DETI Inspire team with Roy Kareem and Marvin Rees