How do you teach a class of pupils amidst lockdowns and school closures?

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British Science Week is a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) taking place this year between 5-14th March.

Despite the many challenges of taking part in Science Week during a global pandemic, schools around the country have been engaging with celebrations whole-heartedly, ensuring their pupils have the best opportunity possible to celebrate science and its role in society.

And here at UWE Bristol, our student engineers currently studying the Engineering and Society module have been working hard to find new ways of connecting with local schools despite lockdowns, school closures and a whole lot of uncertainty!

The module highlights the importance of professional development, lifelong learning, and the competencies and social responsibilities required in order to be a professional engineer.

Through experience of speaking to different groups of people, including teaching a class of school pupils, the module aims to improve the engineers’ communication skills and enable them to effectively communicate engineering and sustainability concepts to a variety of audiences in the future.

But how to teach a class of pupils during a time of school closures and remote learning?

Our student engineers solved that problem, collaborating with students studying Primary Education at UWE, to create their own set of digital educational resources that could be used remotely by teachers.

An exciting opportunity to gather an insight into engineering allowing us to inspire young minds and create opportunities for the future.

Elizabeth Hadlington, Student in Primary Education, UWE Bristol

Over 50 student engineers recorded a set of videos; the first to introduce themselves to the pupils, the area of engineering they study, their interests, what inspired them to become engineers, and advice about different engineering career pathways.

The second video was more subject-specific, helping teach the pupils some of their curriculum-linked learning using a combination of presentations, demonstrations and follow-along activities.

Here is student engineer Noble, introducing himself to KS1 and having some fun with forces.

Meet Noble, student engineer at UWE Bristol

The students then worked together to create a full package of teaching resources for local schools, including videos, lesson plans and activities. These resource packs are now being shared with the placement schools usually visited by the students of Primary Education, over 40 schools throughout Bristol, to use during British Science Week.

‘Draw an Engineer’ one of the activities from the pack sent to local primary schools

The resources will also be made available to all schools registered to take part in the DETI Inspire event – The Big Beam In for British Science Week, reaching a further 19 schools from across the West of England and over 1600 pupils!

From the feedback coming in so far from all students involved, it looks like the project has been a huge success! We’d like to thank all of the students and schools involved and we’re looking forward to seeing what our local schools make of the resource packs – watch this space for more updates!

Noble had the challenge of creating materials for KS1 which is always tricky especially when it comes to engineering however he quickly overcome this barrier and was able to assess the national curriculum to pinpoint were engineering would fit in.

Noble is a credit to the engineering team! We hope him the best in the future! Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to work with engineers. We have learnt a lot and explored a new way of teaching!

Megan Lili William, Student in Primary Education, UWE Bristol

If you are currently studying or working in an engineering field and would like to know more about the outreach opportunities available, please get in touch with the DETI Inspire team at deti@uwe.ac.uk


Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI) is a strategic programme of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), delivered by the National Composites Centre, in partnership with the Centre for Modelling & SimulationDigital Catapult, the University of the West of England, the University of Bristol, and the University of Bath. Industry partners include Airbus, GKN Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, and CFMS, with in kind contributions from UWE, Digital Catapult and Siemens. DETI is funded by £5m from WECA, with co-investment from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.

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