We need more Engine-Ears

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This is a guest post from Louise Hetherington, assistant structural engineer at Atkins and participant in UWE Bristol’s Women Like Me programme. Louise has been involved in developing Engine-Ears, Atkins’ first STEM video for 7-11 years olds, and tells us more about it here.

Empowering young people to re-imagine STEM and change the future

STEM subjects excite us! So, for many years, SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business has been committed to promoting them to our local communities. Our strong STEM networks across our UK offices work tirelessly to be in classrooms and careers fairs, inspiring the next generation into Engineering and other STEM areas.

In the Year of Engineering we made the decision to reduce the age of our school target audience from 14 to seven. We wanted to reach out to younger children, their parents and influencers. Our goals were to inspire young minds into STEM subjects and at the same time, smash any stereotypes that exist around STEM careers.

Getting STEM animated

With support from Fifty One Films, the Atkins business created Engine-Ears. It’s an upbeat, catchy animation designed to appeal to children. The film explores what engineers do to shape the world around us in a relatable and understandable way. And it’s worked. With over 200,000 views on YouTube and other social media platforms, Engine-Ears has been delighting children all over the country.


Imagination-sparking resources

But we didn’t stop there. To accompany the video, we created a resource pack for teachers, pulling ideas from the video into classroom activities. Rather than reinventing the wheel, we believed sharing resources across the engineering community would be the most efficient way forward. So we used well known resources from other companies, referencing the good work they’ve done. Going forward we want to share our teacher pack and video with others in the industry, so together we can spread the message even further.

Diversity in early careers

The Atkins business has also created an inspiring video that encourages career seekers to consider a STEM profession. Rather than just focussing on engineering, the video highlights transport planning, civil engineering and architecture. By selecting other roles within the Atkins business, the video continues to highlight that diversity is key within the engineering community. Our aim is to widen the talent pool and not just encourage the stereotypical demographic to pursue a specific career.

Let’s shape the future together

We believe STEM promotion is most powerful when we work as a team. No one company or person can spread the message as well as a whole industry pulling together. The Atkins business is pushing forward to ensure there are fun and engaging STEM sessions in our offices and at local schools. But it’s not about promoting the company, it’s about promoting the subjects and careers available. We hope to share our knowledge and resources with others to shout the message louder. We all want the same thing – to make sure the engineers of the future know it’s a fantastic career path and it can be the right choice for them, regardless of their gender, race or background.

We need more people in STEM subjects, so let’s work together to achieve that.

To get involved, contact us here.

Whizz Pop Bang magazine and new resources for schools

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Whizz Pop Bang, “the awesome science magazine for kids” have kindly offered use of their resources in our Women Like Me activities. They’re not just a magazine; they create hands-on science lessons too. Here’s what Rachael, the Whizz Pop Bang’s head of communications, had to tell us:

What is Whizz Pop Bang?

Whizz Pop Bang is an award-winning, 36-page children’s magazine jam-packed with science fun! Printed on lovely, thick, uncoated paper (so that kids can colour, scribble and record their science results in it), it’s a top-quality magazine that’s built to last. Each month’s issue focuses on a new and interesting subject, with broad-ranging content to appeal to all budding scientists aged between six and twelve. Have a flick through a virtual copy of Whizz Pop Bang here.

Each month’s magazine is written by expert science writers, such as Isabel Thomas, author of more than 100 children’s science books. Each magazine is full of facts, puzzles, news and simple hands-on experiments that can easily be done at home or in school, giving parents, teachers and kids the tools to become scientists in their kitchens and classrooms!

We believe that kids make the best scientists. WHY? Because they’re inquisitive, keen to learn and have open minds that just love asking “Why…?”!

New teaching resources for schools
One of our key aims for Whizz Pop Bang is to help as many children as possible to enjoy the awesome world of science. So we’ve created a growing library of top-quality downloadable Whizz Pop Bang lesson plans and reading resources for schools to make science fun and engaging for children and teachers alike. 

What are the resources for schools?
Our Whizz Pop Bang school resources have been written by primary teachers in conjunction with science experts and they all link to the national curriculum…

  • Differentiated lesson plans
  • Simple hands-on investigations using household items
  • Interactive PowerPoint presentations to guide the lessons
  • Guiding reading texts and comprehension questions*
  • Science games

* Science texts and comprehensions, written by teachers, link to the English reading curriculum. They include How Stuff Works, interviews with real scientists and stories of sensational scientists from the past.

Subscriptions to the resources are for the whole school, with as many teacher log-ins as required.

How much does it cost?

 We know budgets are tighter than ever, so we’re offering schools a 50% discount on the resources until 31st December 2018. Whole-school access to the downloadable resources, along with 4 magazines in the post each month costs just £225 for the whole year with unlimited teacher loginsFor an average-sized school of 300 children, that’s just 75p per pupil per year.

To calculate the price per pupil for your school, use our online pricing tool at whizzpopbang.com/schools (prices exclude VAT).

Top five reasons for schools to subscribe to Whizz Pop Bang:

  • Accessible content for classrooms, libraries and science clubs
  • Written by expert teachers and science writers
  • Linked to the science and reading curricula
  • Bursting with rich practical science experiments
  • Gives teachers the confidence to deliver accurate science lessons

We’re particularly keen on the Whizz Pop Bang engineering resources and their issue on Super Structures, which you can read more about here.

To find out more visit whizzpopbang.com/schools, or if you have any questions, drop the team an email to hello@whizzpopbang.com or call them on 0330 2233790. You can also follow Whizz Pop Bang on social media: @whizzpopbangmag

Children as Engineers highly commended at STEM Inspiration Awards

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A UWE team have been at the House of Lords in London today, after they were shortlisted for an Inspirational STEM Engagement Project Award in the 2018 STEM Inspiration Awards.

Laura Fogg-Rogers ran Children as Engineers, a collaboration between the UWE Bristol Department of Education and Childhood and Department of Engineering, Design and Mathematics, with Juliet Edmonds and Dr Fay Lewis.

The team attended the awards ceremony and were highly commended for the project, which paired student engineers and pre-service teachers to undertake engineering design challenges in primary schools; a well deserved recognition of their hard work and dedication.

UWE PhD student Pavlina Theodosiou kicks off Women Like Me at Engine Shed

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UWE PhD student Pavlina Theodosiou has joined our Royal Academy of Engineering funded project Women Like Me, and is already underway in engaging girls with STEM.

Pavlina has a background in biological sciences and is currently undertaking her PhD at the Bristol Bioenergy Centre in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, researching Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) which are bio-electrochemical transducers that convert organic matter into electrical energy using bacteria. More specifically. Pavlina is researching how a robotic platform called EvoBot can improve MFCs in order to use them on-board low power robots that can be powered by organic waste (more information about the project can be found here: https://blogit.itu.dk/evoblissproject/).

She is also one of the junior engineers on our new project Women Like Me, which is funded by a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grant and launched at UWE on 18th October.

Pavlina decided to take part in Women Like Me because she is passionate about science communication, promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and engaging girls with STEM activities in order to inspire and enthuse them about STEM careers. As part of the project, junior engineers will be undertaking a minimum of three outreach and public engagement activities with local schools and communities between October 2018 and April 2019. Pavlina began hers almost immediately, helping to run the ClairCity stand at Technotopia which was held at Engine Shed on 20th October.


Women Like Me launch event – becoming a leader in engineering

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Women Like Me has officially launched!

On 18th October we brought together our female engineers from around the Bristol and Bath region, who will be either mentoring other engineers, or undertaking outreach and public engagement activities with schools and communities to raise uptake and retention of women in engineering, and inspire the next generation.

It was a busy and rewarding day, and this is what we got up to.

Welcome Training – Becoming a Leader in Engineering

We started the day by welcoming our junior engineers, who joined us from a range of companies in the Bristol and Bath region. After introductions to each other and the scheme by Dr Laura Fogg Rogers, our first training session, delivered by Dr Laura Hobbs focused on STEM outreach, public engagement and working with schools. What is it, why do we do it and how do we go about it?


We then facilitated STEM Ambassador registration for our volunteers, and get together for an exchange of outreach ideas. Our senior engineers, who will be mentoring our junior engineers, joined us at lunch time ready for a packed afternoon. After meeting each other, mentors and mentees received an introduction to role modelling from Laura Fogg Rogers, followed by a session on mentoring for women by UWE’s Dr Harriet Short.



Participants brought with them something that represents what mentoring means to them, with lots of discussion to be had.









The engineer training closed with bespoke training on Leadership in Engineering from Wide Eyed Group‘s Caroline Morris, looking at the role of leaders, and how our leadership style can be used to encourage and influence others. We explored what it takes to be vulnerable and true to yourself, and how your unique qualities help your own leadership style.

Professionals from across the region then met to discuss science education, outreach, women in STEM and more, with the opportunity to receive free People Like Me taster training from WISE‘s Sarah Behenna.

If you have any questions about Curiosity Connections – Women Like Me or would like to support the project, please get in touch at engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk.

Women Like Me and Leaders Award represented at First Friday Club

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On Friday 5th October 2018, UWE Bristol project Women Like Me and the Leaders Award supported by UWE Bristol were presented to leading media editors at the First Friday Club meeting in London.

Presenting to the editors’ briefing, Chris Rochester, UK Director, Primary Engineer said: “In 2017/18 academic year we continued to develop our programmes across the UK which included working with 988 schools, 3,833 teachers and 1,325 engineers. Each one getting involved and helping nearly 57,000 children to understand that engineering is a broad profession with myriad opportunities. It emphasises engineering is a diverse sector which thrives on ingenuity and creativity of the professionals working within it”.

In the South West, the Leaders Award is supported by Defence, Equipment and Support (DE&S), the MOD’s procurement organisation, along with UWE Bristol.

Air Marshal Julian Young, Chief of Materiel Air, and who is the Ministry of Defence’s Engineering Champion and lead Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) Ambassador for DE&S, said: “I am delighted that the Defence Sector is rising to the challenge of increasing its diversity in our Engineering profession, whether that is cultural, gender or nationality, and we are working closely with a range of STEM-related organizations, including Primary Engineer, to help to encourage young women and girls to not only express an interest in Engineering, but to follow that through into a career and a successful one at that!”

Two female engineers from Defence, Equipment and Support also gave accounts of their personal journeys into engineering. May Holmes started her career as a primary teacher – unaware there was more than one kind of engineering aside from civil engineering – before joining DE&S as a mechanical engineer.  She said: “Not all young people are lucky enough to be introduced to and experience STEM, which can be to the detriment of younger generations reaching their full potential as well as to STEM professions – particularly with current and predicted future skills shortages in STEM roles. 

“Through programmes such as Primary Engineer, I enjoy challenging young people’s perception of what Engineering is, who an Engineer is, and encouraging all young people that it can, in fact, be for everyone.”   

UWE Bristol are supporting the South West Leaders Awards and hosting the winners’ Awards Ceremony. A team of female student engineers from the UWE Women in Science and Engineering Society will build the winning design from 2018. Alongside this, UWE Bristol is galvanising support from local industries through their Women Like Me mentoring programme, where local female engineers will work with schools over the coming year.

Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers, who is the project lead and a science communication researcher at UWE Bristol, said: “Engineers are highly creative people who can help to solve many of society’s problems. It’s a really collaborative profession, where you have to work together in teams to see your visions and designs come to fruition. The range of roles and careers is really diverse, and that’s what we’d like to emphasise to all young people, particularly girls. You can make your own mark in engineering!”

Edited from a press release by Neil Fullbrook, Cadence neil@thecadenceteam.com

Registration open for the ASE West of England conference

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Annual Association for Science Education West of England conference

Bath Spa University

Saturday 17th November, 09:00 – 13:30.

This conference includes a workshop, ‘Working with science communicators & STEM Ambassadors’ from Laura Fogg Rogers (UWE Bristol) and our collaborator on Women Like Me, Liz Lister (Graphic Science).

Please see below for the programme outline, and the conference website for further information and to register.


9:00-9:30      Registration, refreshments & browse stands

9:30-9:45      Welcome & PSQM Awards

9:45-10:30    Keynote Professor Harry Mellor, Professor of Biochemistry 

10:35-11:30   Workshop A Choice

11:30-12:10   Break & browse exhibition stands

12:10-13:05   Workshop B Choice

13:10-13:30   ASE Regional ABM

Keynote Professor Harry Mellor, Professor of Biochemistry  Teaching height:  the biology and sociology of cell growth

The biology of human growth offers a rich context to teach key aspects of cell biology.  The visible outcome – height – has an immediacy to students across primary to secondary school ages.  This engages students, but also requires care in maintaining an inclusive teaching environment.  Societal attitudes to height, and especially to height and gender, present an opportunity to explore wider themes, and to explore the interface between biology and sociology.

Workshop A choices

A1 Primary:

Kids against plastic

Liz Southwell, St Barnabas Primary @MrsSLearns

Come and find out about the work of Amy and Ella Meek, who founded ‘Kids Against Plastic’ and who are passionate about inspiring young people to lead their schools and communities to becoming ‘Plastic Clever’. This session is based on the Kids Against Plastic ethos and principles, and uses their newly published learning resources, to consider how schools can become more ‘plastic clever’ and how this exciting new charity can become the focus and inspiration for science enquiry and investigation.

A2 Primary:

STEM in action: Scribble-bots

Pauline Rodger, Holt Primary

This workshop offers the opportunity to build and test a scribble-bot (simple robot). Ideas of how to embed this into a sequence of work and engage children with making predictions, testing ideas, problem-solving and controlling outcomes will be shared. Aimed mainly at KS2 but can be further developed and equally engaging for KS3.

A3: Cross phase:

Thinking Science

Ellie Hart, Bristol University

A practical session introducing techniques for philosophical discussion in primary and secondary classrooms. Boost your students’ critical thinking, questioning and argumentation skills and find out about a resource recently developed by philosophers and science teachers that can be used to support discussion and consolidate core curriculum understanding.

A4: Secondary:

Time to reflect on the reformed Science GCSEs

Sarah Old, Ofqual

Now that the reformed Science GCSEs have had their first award and teachers are preparing their second cohort of students for the examinations, come and hear from Sarah Old, Senior Manager in the Standards Team at Ofqual. It will also be an opportunity for you to share your experiences of the new curriculum and the first set of assessments.

A5: Secondary:

Leading a successful secondary science department

Greg Seal, Abbeywood School @gregtheseal

and Helen Rogerson, Westonbirt School @hrogerson


Workshop B choices 

B1 Primary

TAPS: from Focused Assessment to whole school approach

Dr Sarah Earle, Bath Spa University @PriSciEarle

The Teacher Assessment in Primary Science (TAPS) project, now in its 6th year, has found that classroom Focused Assessment activities help start whole school development.  This workshop will explore a range of practical activities to support the assessment of Working Scientifically, before considering how subject leaders can cascade this approach across the school.

B2 Primary

Ditch the dirt

Bren Hellier, Practical Action @PA_Schools

Join Practical Action for a hands on workshop investigating ways of cleaning dirty water through filtering linked to the charities project work in Kenya.

B3 Cross phase

Working with science communicators & STEM Ambassadors

Laura Fogg-Rogers, University of the West of England @LauraFoggRogers

and Liz Lister, Graphic Science STEM Ambassador Hub @scarycurlgirl

Curiosity Connections Bristol is a new network to connect science teachers and science communicators working in the Bristol region. So how should science teachers best work with industry and external science enthusiasts both in and out of the classroom? This session outlines the resources available to support teachers in this area.

B4: Secondary:

Biology from the farm

Debbie Hicks, LEAF Education

Food security, conservation, biodiversity, plant and animal diseases, farming techniques.  These topics now have a high profile both in the media and in the new GCSE Biology specifications.  Join this workshop to bring your knowledge up to date and explore ways of bringing these topics to life with your classes.

B5: Secondary:

Language and literacy demands of secondary science

Amanda Fleck, Assistant Headteacher @AJTF71

Science is rich in complex language and this can be a barrier for many students at secondary school. Readability statistics show that new 9-1 science GCSEs have some of the highest readability scores of any of the current GCSEs. This session explores the implications of the language and literacy demands of science and discusses practical strategies to support teachers to help their students overcome these barriers.

Making STEM for everyone – a new practitioner resource

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Would you like to help girls engage with Physics? Or  make sure your science engagement is inclusive? May you’d just like to know how strong your unconscious bias is?

The Science Communication Unit at UWE Bristol has published a new practitioner guide which can point you to the resources to help with this, and more.

Making STEM for everyone: Resources for supporting people from under-represented groups to engage with Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering is a compilation of useful online tests, guides and materials written by Dr Laura Hobbs and Dr Laura Fogg Rogers, who also run Engineering Our Future project Women Like Me.

Drawing on a range of project outputs, industry schemes, toolkits and reports from across the STEM landscape, the guide provides a compilation of information and resources to assist anyone wishing to reach people who may face barriers to engaging with STEM subjects.

The contents of the guide are:

General information on under-represented groups in STEM and what influences participation in STEM

Science capital
Understanding the term ‘science capital’ and its application

Diversity in science, positive role models and case studies
Examples of people from under-represented groups in STEM, and resources to support the concept of ‘STEM for all’

What could a STEM career look like?
Examples of roles using STEM

Engineering in a different light
Engineering might not be what you think it is…

Inclusion in the classroom
Inclusive STEM teaching support

Breaking the mould
Challenges to stereotypes in popular culture

Encouraging people into STEM
Resources to support interests in STEM

If you’re interested in more expert guidance, check the Science Communication Unit website for a full list of available practitioner guides.

Join us for the Women Like Me launch!

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Supporting women and girls in engineering

Women Like Me is a peer mentoring and outreach project for women in engineering, based at the University of the West of England (UWE), supported by the WISE Bristol Hub and STEM Ambassador Hub West England and funded by a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grant.

Women Like Me launches at UWE on 18th October. Join the project’s engineers for an evening of FREE People Like Me taster training from WISE’s Sarah Behenna, followed by networking with professionals from across the region.

Booking is essential – sign up here.

For more information or to get involved with Women Like Me, please email engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk.

Ready to engineer your future?

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Following International Women in Engineering Day on 23rd June, 135 female students in Years 9-11 from across the South West had the chance to participate in hands-on activities, demonstrating the ways in which engineering careers impact many aspects of society.

Each zone focused on a different contribution to society, with the ultimate challenge of designing and building a city of the future. The girls got involved in bridge building, urban design, smart technologies, and sustainable solutions. All these courses are taught in the Faculty of Environment and Technology at UWE Bristol.

The event aimed to challenge traditional perceptions that engineering is mainly for men, in order to tackle a lack of diversity in the profession. Laura Fogg Rogers, who helped to organise it, has also recently initiated the Women Like Me project at UWE Bristol, which aims to further encourage and support girls and women to enter and remain in engineering professions.