Women Like Me engineer Eleanor Davies reaches another 1000 pupils for the Leaders Award

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Back in November, our Women Like Me participant Eleanor Davies presented to over 1300 children in on online ‘Meet an Engineer‘ session for the Leaders Award.

Her talk was so successful and engaging that she was invited back, and presented again on 31st January. This time Eleanor reached 1042 children in six primary and one secondary school, across the UK. Eleanor is a Chartered Structural Engineer at BuroHappold Engineering; you out more about her and her career in engineering so far here.

The Leaders Award is supported by UWE Bristol and asks children “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”. This free competition asks students to find a problem, invent a solution, draw it, explain and send it in. Pupils are encouraged to both interview engineers and watch the online interviews. If you’d like to take part in the Leaders Award as an engineer or school, please get in touch with the team.

Connected by Curiosity

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Our Curiosity Connections Conference took place at UWE Bristol on Saturday 2nd February 2019. We’ve already updated on our Women Like Me engineering outreach surgery that was embedded into the day; now you can find out how the rest of the packed event went in this conference report by Curiosity’s Project Coordinator Louisa Cockbill and Project Lead Laura Fogg-Rogers (originally posted by Louisa on the Curiosity Connections blog).

Despite all the snow falling in Bristol on the day before the conference, we were much relieved that roads were cleared in time for delegates to arrive on Saturday morning.

Looking at the feedback forms this morning we’re happy to find that everyone found the day a valuable collaborative opportunity as well as being informative, motivational and fun to boot.

In her introductory keynote, Louise Stubberfield who leads the Explorify project as Programme Manager of Primary Science Education at the Wellcome Trust, highlighted data gathered by the Trust showing how little science makes its way into the primary school classroom. One statistic that stood out, was how the UK  have longer school hours than other countries, yet spend less time on science.

Louise Stubberfield presents her keynote address

Louise applauded the teachers present for taking the time to do science education training, while also noting that this was on their own unpaid time. She also highlighted statistics that indicate training such as this significantly pushes science contact time up in their schools.

The keynote painted the uphill battle that science has to climb in primary schools. But Louise finished on a positive note by engaging everyone in a couple of Explorify activities, clearly demonstrating the ease by which these online resources can be deployed in the primary classroom.

The day then went into full swing with workshops and expo entertainment galore.

Matthew Tosh leads a workshop on confidence in presenting science in the classroom

One workshop inspired delegates in easy ways to incorporate science content into English and Maths lessons, while another built confidence in presenting science in the classroom, and still a third looked into how ideas around science capital can be built into lessons.

Becky Holmes from Science Made Simple gets some help in showcasing her activities

The Expo Showcase, which followed on from a lush lunch, was a highlight of the day, with representatives from Medical MavericksScience Made SimplePractical Action and Kids against Plastic, showcasing their activities.

The day finished with a little magic from Matthew Tosh, who showed us how a science “wow” can be very simple. And he also gave us a sneaky preview from a new demonstration he’s whipping together for a new show premiering at St. George’s Bristol on Sunday 17th Feb.

We wish to say a massive thank you to all of the speakers who took part in making the day so relevant, and of course thank you for delegates for taking part!

Stay tuned in to the blog in the next couple of weeks to see more photos from the event and to hear more about what some of our science communicator attendees are up to…

Female engineers come together for outreach surgery at Curiosity Connections 2019

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Curiosity ConnectionsWomen Like Me is a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious funded project. Curiosity Connections is a Bristol-based network for primary Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) teachers and science communicators, while Women Like Me pairs senior engineers with junior engineers for mentoring, with the junior engineers undertaking outreach activities with children and young people.

The Curiosity Connections Conference 2019 took place at UWE Bristol on 2nd February – more to follow about that! As well as the three fantastic workshop rotations on offer, we also provided an outreach surgery for our female engineers to come along, try out some outreach activities, talk through any thoughts they have about outreach and catch up with each other.

Run by Dr Laura Hobbs, research fellow in science communication at UWE Bristol and coordinator of Women Like Me, and Dr Debbie Lewis, technical team leader for molecular biology at UWE and experienced outreach leader, the session saw our engineers trying to cut A5 pieces of paper so that they could step through them (a fantastic resource provided by the Year of Engineering) and build towers out of spaghetti and marshmallows. We were also joined by our WISE Women Like Me partner Sarah Behenna, who was recently involved with the development of the new WISE resource My Skills My Life.

Credit: David Marshall (University of Bristol/Virtual Natural History Museum)

Such was the concentration and enthusiasm for the tasks – and encouraging and supportive atmosphere – that we decided to extend our scheduled 50 minute session to more than two hours, only stopping for lunch. Our endeavours with technical paper-cutting also caught the attention of exhibitors at the conference expo; the Virtual Natural History Museum stand soon became adorned with a perfectly-executed paper ring!

UWE student engineers promote Leaders Award at Curiosity Connections 2019

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Our Curiosity Connections Conference, bringing together teachers and science communicators to discuss and progress the future of primary STEM, took place today and the packed expo featured two of the student engineers building a prototype of one of the winning designs from last year’s Leaders Award competition.

UWE Bristol student engineers Miriam Cristofoletti (Bristol Robotics Laboratory) and Georgina Packham (Mechanical Engineering) attended the conference to report on the work they are doing for the Leaders Award, and raise awareness of the competition with more than 50 conference attendees.

Along with Olesya Klyuchenkova and our Women Like Me engineer
Katy O’Hara Nash, Miriam and Georgina are building a prototype of a graded braking light designed by Philippa Griffiths, a Year 7 student at Hugh Sexey CE Middle School in Somerset. Philippa designed the RLBS (Red Line Braking System) to display red lights to alert other drivers of the severity of the braking and levels of attention needed, with the aim of reducing fatalities on our roads. The team will be visiting Philippa’s school later this month.

The Leaders Award is supported by UWE Bristol and asks children “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”. This free competition asks students to find a problem, invent a solution, draw it, explain and send it in. Pupils are encouraged to both interview engineers and watch the online interviews. If you’d like to take part in the Leaders Award as an engineer or school, please get in touch with the team.

Female engineers engaged in women’s networks invited to participate in new research

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Dr Vanda Papafilippou, lecturer in Human Resource Management at UWE Bristol, is undertaking new research into engagement of female engineers with women’s networks and how this relates to their career identities. Please see below for details and get in touch with Vanda on
Vanda.Papafilippou@uwe.ac.uk if you’d like to take part, or for further information.

If you are a female engineer and relatively active in women’s networks (e.g. your company’s women’s network, WISE, WES, Bristol Geek Dinners, etc.), you are being invited to participate in a research project conducted by Dr Vanda Papafilippou (Lecturer in HRM at UWE Bristol.)

The study, aims at exploring how female engineers develop, enter, maintain and engage with women’s networks and the extent to which these networks contribute to their career identities. The findings of the study will enable engineering companies to (re)design their women-only networks in order to make sure that they empower and retain women engineers.

If you agree to participate, you will be invited for a one-to-one interview with Vanda (wherever works better for you). The interview will last approximately one hour and can be conducted any day and time between February and April 2019. The interview questions will be around: (i) your career history (background information); (ii) the range and nature of women-only networks you are currently participating in and (iii) if, and if yes how, your participation in women-only networks has impacted on the way you see yourself as an engineer (i.e. your career identity).

If you are interested in participating or if you require further information, contact directly Vanda (Vanda.Papafilippou@uwe.ac.uk)

UWE engineering students visit Hannah More Primary School

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Yesterday, our team of student engineers who are turning one of the winning 2018 Leaders Award designs into reality, Miriam Cristofoletti, Katy O’Hara Nash, Olesya Klyuchenkova and Georgina Packham, visited Hannah More Primary School in Bristol to introduce Year 1 pupils to engineering. Find out how they got on in this guest post by the team.

Yesterday we went to Hannah More Primary School to deliver our Engineering activity and we had so much fun with the children! 

They were Year 1 pupils (age 5 and 6), and we were really happy to see their interest and passion in getting involved in all the activities. We had a slideshow with many pictures, videos about Engineering and questions to make the session more interactive and entertaining.

“I want that robot at home!”

Most of the children said things like “I want that robot at home!” “I want to fly that plane!”. We got them thinking about what they want to do when they grow up, guess what course we study, draw what an engineer would look like and what they do in their job.

We introduced them to the Leaders Award competition and they were so impressed by the fact that we are actually building one of last year’s winners, designed by a pupil like them!

Then, we gave the children two problems to choose from (pollution and unhealthy eating) and in groups they had to find a solution. It was great to see the amazing ideas they came up with, such as robots that only buy/serve healthy food and devices to clean the “dirty gases” coming out of the cars.

Credit: Hannah More Primary School on Twitter.

At the end they proudly presented their work in front of the rest of the class and all said they now want to become engineers! Such a successful day! 

The Leaders Award is supported by UWE Bristol and asks children “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”. This free competition asks students to find a problem, invent a solution, draw it, explain and send it in. Pupils are encouraged to both interview engineers and watch the online interviews. If you’d like to take part in the Leaders Award as an engineer or school, please get in touch with the team.

“An amazing opportunity for me to share my route into engineering”

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Women Like Me participant and graduate engineer at Peter Brett Associates Rachel Kirkwood tells us about her very successful online presentation for the Leaders Award in this guest post.

On Thursday 17th January I spoke to almost 2,000 primary and secondary school children across the nation about all things engineering via a live online video call. This was part of the Leaders Award scheme which provides children with the opportunity to hear from engineers from a variety of backgrounds and industries, prompting the children to answer the question “If you were an engineer, what would you do?”. This was an amazing opportunity for me to share my route into engineering and details of my current career as a Transport Planner at Peter Brett Associates. Importantly, it also provided an insight into who I am in a quest to challenge perceptions of what an engineer looks like or the sort of person they might be. My presentation initially covered the sorts of things I learnt during my Civil Engineering degree at university which were broad and varied, demonstrating the many applications of engineering. I included a photo, as below, of my dissertation project work as evidence that the subject can be hands-on and put you in interesting (read: cold and wet) situations!

I then spoke about my current role as a Transport Planner, and what on earth Transport Planning actually is. I didn’t know the answer to that myself until only a few years ago so it is brilliant to know that children these days are getting the opportunity to find out about real careers so early on. My presentation covered issues such as reducing levels of traffic congestion, improving people’s mental and physical health, sustainability, and the future of transport.

The presentation lasted 15 minutes and was followed by 45 minutes of Q&A; this was admittedly a daunting prospect at first but was actually good fun. The questions covered areas such as what you need to study at school to become an engineer, my favourite part of my job, my best invention, and my interests outside of work. I had to politely skip over the requests for me to sing to them after I mentioned that was one of my hobbies! It was amazing to know that they had all found my presentation interesting and were keen to learn more. I was also very impressed with the relevance and quality of (most of) the questions being asked.

Details of the Leaders Award project and the opportunity to sign up to present were provided to me by the wonderful team at UWE who are running the Women Like Me initiative that I am also participating in. Women Like Me aims to increase awareness of the purpose and importance of outreach and public engagement within science and engineering with the goal of getting more people, particularly women, into engineering. It does this by guiding and encouraging a group of junior female engineers in the South West to actively participate in STEM outreach and activities. The scheme also provides junior engineers with mentoring from a more senior engineer to aid with their progression in the industry. I signed up to Women Like Me as I am incredibly passionate about widening participation in STEM, changing public perceptions of engineering, and ensuring that children don’t have to wait until they’re in their 20s to discover that engineering is a real career option like I did!

I thoroughly enjoyed my Leaders Award experience and my presentation was apparently so successful that I have been asked to deliver it again next month. I would thoroughly encourage anyone else to sign up and share your engineering story. It is not only rewarding but also a great opportunity to develop your communication and presentation skills. If you would like any more details, you can visit the Leaders Award website at https://leadersaward.com/.

DE&S releases video showcasing Leaders Award support

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Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S – Ministry of Defence), are supporting the Leaders Award, run by Primary Engineer, alongside UWE Bristol and Women Like Me.

After hosting school students from across Bristol at their Abbey Wood site last Friday, DE&S released a great video showcasing their (and our) support for the Leaders Award, which asks children “if you were an engineer, what would you do?” and invites them to submit entries to a competition to have their design built by UWE Bristol engineers.

Primary Engineer CEO and founder Dr Susan Scurlock MBE said:

“The partnership between ourselves, DE&S and UWE has been one that has inspired children across the region with the possibilities that engineering offers.

We are very pleased to be supporting the Leaders Award for another year and further developing this successful partnership.

WISE and Women Like Me’s Sarah Behenna on the My Skills My Life launch

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WISE Associate, WISE Bristol Hub founder and Women Like Me consultant Sarah Behenna has recently been involved in the development of the new WISE digital platform My Skills My Life. Aimed at encouraging 11-19 year old girls into STEM, My Skills My Life launched yesterday. Sarah tells us more about it in this guest post.

Yesterday marked the launch of a new interactive game from WISE called My Skills My Life which helps girls to discover what they’re good at, and then match them up to rewarding careers in STEM. The launch took place at UTC Reading, where 38 girls got to be the first in the country to try the game out, and then meet people in industry who share the same skill sets as them to see how they use their skills in their careers. Afterwards, the girls got to meet WISE’s role patron HRH The Princess Royal, who asked them about what they’d like to do in the future.

Complete our quiz to discover your personality type, and see how your skills match up to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) careers. Connect with real people in STEM careers who have the same personality as you. What do they do? What do they earn? How did they get there? It’s all about your skills, and how you can make them work for your life.  

You can access the platform at http://www.myskillsmylife.org.uk/.

For more information, please contact WISE at info@wisecampaign.org.uk

WISE launches new digital platform for 11-19 year old girls

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Our Women Like Me partner WISE has launched a new digital platform today, aimed at engaging 11-19 year old girls. My Skills My Life shows girls that science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) opens doors to a huge variety of exciting and purposeful jobs and careers in every sector. Over 1,000 girls from across the UK have given their feedback on the platform:

“I like how it allows a person to describe themselves, how they see themselves and not how others see them. And how it’s not what you have to do but what it recommends. It doesn’t test how smart you are – doesn’t discriminate.”

“It helps narrow down the wide range of ideas and career paths to make the experience of choosing what you’d like to do less daunting and more exciting in a fun and inspiring way.”

WISE developed the platform with generous support from BAE Systems, Broadcom, Goldman Sachs Gives, National Skills Academy for Rail, Network Rail, techUK and the UK Space Agency. .

My Skills My Life is an online game designed to be played on a mobile phone, tablet or computer, connecting girls to hundreds of role models working in all areas of STEM. It was designed based on feedback from girls, teachers, role models and independent evaluation, and with it WISE aims to develop it to replace their existing People Like Me resources, eventually reaching at least 200,000 girls.

As we keep developing My Skills My Life, it will replace People Like Me, and the My Skills My Life game will be supported by comprehensive resources for teachers, role models and everyone who will deliver it.

WISE are asking people to share the resource within their organisation and networks; ask young women working in STEM to sign up as role models via the home page of their website www.wisecampaign.org.uk.

You can read more here. If you have any questions, please email WISE at info@wisecampaign.org.uk