Engaging Children in STEM Through Storytelling

Posted on

After the success of this year’s scientist storytelling program in schools, the DETI Inspire team alongside the West of England STEM Ambassador hub is once again offering the highly requested training session to scientists in the South West.

Training session is taking place on 13th July, 4 – 6pm at UWE’s Frenchay campus.

Once trained, STEM Ambassadors will take specially selected books into schools to read – the books are selected from a collection that features stories with people from minority ethnicity backgrounds, women, and those with a neurodivergent brain having fun with science! These stories, and the real-life scientists reading them enable children to see a more diverse picture of science , helping them to “see themselves” as scientists.

Get Involved

To ensure the continued success of this outreach activity and visit more schools and children, we’re looking for more ambassadors to sign up to the free training session.

If you are already an approved STEM Ambassador, you can view the offer and sign up to the event here:

https://www.stem.org.uk/platform/activity/5e4f397b-df05-4db5-94a2-357bd195851a

If not, you can register interest through the following Eventbrite link:

https://curiousstories.eventbrite.co.uk

We’re running the training as a hybrid event, with Zoom as an option if you can’t make it in, however, we highly recommend you join us face-to-face on the 13th of July  at UWE Bristol.

The session will last approximately 2 hours and will be led by an experienced primary educator (Jane Carter from UWE’s Education unit) who will teach  you how to present fantastic stereotype-challenging stories to children. And you’ll get a chance to have a go! Readings in schools will take place during the new school year (September 2022 onwards) and also during Bristol’s Storytale Festival in October halfterm.

Local Schools Take on Sustainable Transport Challenge

Posted on

School children from across the West of England came to UWE Bristol recently to share their sustainable transport designs with engineers and peers over a day full of fun and engaging activities.

Alongside the team from Graphic Science, the students designed in school vehicles that could cross both water and land, travel hundreds of miles, and sustainably achieve this feat. They were then invited to display their vehicles in the Engineering Building at UWE Frenchay Campus where they showed off detailed models and articulated how their journey could be achieved with as minimal waste as possible.

Students showing off their sustainable transport design.

After presenting their designs to their peers and members of the Engineering department at UWE, Students enjoyed an inspiring talk from a member of the Bristol Gulls team, Sarah Hunt, who rowed 3000 miles across the Atlantic in an Eco Ocean rowing boat built to have minimal impact on the environment. This was particularly popular with the children as they could see a real-life example of what they designed themselves, ask plenty of questions, and watch their teachers try the dehydrated curry and rice pudding enjoyed by the Gulls during their 47-day journey!

Additional events included an immersive mobile-planetarium show, “Engineering Our Future” made in collaboration with Explorer Dome, a sustainability tour of the award-winning Engineering building by the UWE Frenchay groundskeeper, and a Minecraft sustainable transport challenge led by the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Inspire team, tasking students to digitally engineer new ways to cross the Bristol Harbour in a scale recreation of the S.S. Great Britain area.”

UWE Bristol professor wins prestigious engineering award

Posted on

UWE Bristol’s Head of Engineering Design and Mathematics has been recognised for her work to increase diversity in engineering.

Professor Lisa Brodie collected an Enginuity Skills Awards at a ceremony in London, seeing off competition from two shortlisted entrants in the Diversity in Engineering category.

The award recognises organisations, individuals or a team that has delivered a specific scheme, project, or initiative, that significantly contributes to shifting the dial of equality, diversity, and inclusion within the engineering and manufacturing industries.

Professor Brodie has overseen the development of the new School of Engineering building to ensure it has been designed with neurodiverse students in mind. The facility was co-designed in conjunction with a new engineering curriculum, to create a supportive environment for students from under-represented backgrounds. The building is equipped with individual study spaces designed to support students with sensory issues, such as people with autism who can benefit from features including white noise bubble tubes and adjustable, muted lighting.

In addition, Professor Brodie leads the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Skills programme, which aims to improve diversity in recruitment into STEM industries (particularly engineering) while also enhancing retention of skilled engineers in the industry.

The Inspire programme has had particular success, reaching over 7,000 children in the South West so far. Some 42 per cent of the schools participating in face-to-face activities have been from the most deprived 20% of the country. The children have been exposed to innovative engineering workshops that connect them with real-life, diverse engineering role models to widen participation and aspirations for STEM careers.

Professor Brodie said: “It’s just phenomenal to get this award. I’m really excited and proud. We’ve been working hard at the university to really make a change in engineering, particularly around autism and engineers and diversity. We need different minds. If we don’t have a diversity of minds, then we’re not going to get all the solutions we need.”

Tod Burton, Deputy Dean for the Faculty of Environment and Technology, said: “We are all very proud of Professor Brodie and the work her team have tirelessly carried out developing an inclusive Engineering community here at UWE. This prestigious award from Enginuity justly recognises her efforts and the influence Lisa is having across the sector – a true reflection of UWE values.”


This blog was first published by the UWE Bristol comms team, for more of the latest news visit https://www.uwe.ac.uk/news

New round of peer mentoring and outreach project, Women Like Me, for 2022

Posted on

Women Like Me is a peer mentoring and outreach project, aimed at boosting female representation in engineering.

How does it work?

Women Like Me pairs senior women engineers with junior women engineers to undertake mentoring and engineering education outreach in the Bristol and Bath area. Engineering is a creative, socially conscious, and collaborative discipline, and this project aims to support girls and women to make a difference in society.

Why is this important?

Only 12% of engineers in the UK are women. In order to support female engineers, more girls need to connect with engineering as a career, with positive female role models, and more women need to be supported to make a difference in the workplace.

Women Like Me is addressing this by pairing together women engineers to provide career and public engagement mentoring. Participating engineers deliver engineering engagement activities in local schools and at local public events, providing positive role models for young girls. Through this approach, the project will lead to impact both in the workplace today, and for the future of the engineering profession.

Who can take part?

Mid-career and early career female engineers working in the Bristol and Bath area can get involved in the project. Senior women engineers are those who have been working in engineering for at least five years. Junior women engineers are those with less experience than this, and can include apprentices, trainees, undergraduate and postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

What will it involve?

We will offer networking opportunities to all participants at the start (spring 2022) and end (winter 2022) of the project. We have an online training session planned for February, followed by an in-person networking event in March which will take place at UWE Bristol’s School of Engineering.

Senior engineers will receive support in mentoring and should meet with their junior engineer mentee at least twice during the project. This can take any form that best suits each pair.

Junior engineers will receive mentoring support from senior engineers and training in public engagement. They will then undertake at least three engineering outreach activities with local schools and public events. Coordination of activity is provided and supported by UWE.

Upcoming outreach activities include STEM workshops for schools and community groups, opportunities to get involved with regional competitions and celebration days such as the ‘If you were an engineer what would you do?’ competition by Primary Engineer, The Lego League, and the Great Science Share for Schools.

How do I sign up?

To take part in the project this year, interested participants should complete the appropriate online survey:

Senior Engineers (over 5 years experience) please complete this survey

Junior Engineers (less than 5 years experience) please complete this survey

The project coordinators will then be in touch having allocated the mentor/mentee pairs.

Want some more info?

This project was first launched in 2018 and is based in the Science Communication Unit and School of Engineering at UWE Bristol. The project is organised by Dr Laura Hobbs with support from Ana Bristow and Dr Louisa Cockbill, and was initiated by Dr Laura Fogg Rogers. It is supported by the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI).

You can read about the successes of the project in previous years and access the 2018-2019 project report. A paper in the Journal of Science Communication, Fogg-Rogers and Hobbs (2019) places Women Like Me in the context of recruitment and retention of women in engineering.

For any further information please email engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk or follow us on Twitter for updates.

Building to Break Barriers – a different view of engineering

Posted on

Building to Break Barriers is a new outreach project that aims to engage children from under-represented groups with engineering, using the computer game Minecraft, which allows players to build almost limitless creations.

The project will co-produce ten new engineering outreach sessions with engineers, children, and young people, and deliver them around the UK. To increase representation, the children involved will be from under-represented groups, and so will some of the engineers. Engineers will receive outreach training and support throughout the project. Activity will take place online during COVID-19 restrictions.

Why Minecraft?

Building to Break Barriers is a Science Hunters project. Science Hunters uses Minecraft to engage children with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) for three key reasons:

  • Minecraft is very popular – it has even been referred to as one of the most important games of the current generation. This means that it is both familiar and appealing to children, and can interest them in topics that they might not otherwise engage with. It is also relatively easy to use, and quickly picked up.
  • Minecraft has various features which represent items and processes in the real world. This makes it ideal for communicating about, and building understanding of, a range of scientific concepts.

The game can be used in different modes on a range of hardware, including Creative mode, which allows unlimited building and therefore has high flexibility.            

What’s involved?

Children and schools

UK children and schools are invited to participate in co-designing outreach sessions with the project team and engineers. This may look different for each school and child, and could include: contributing an idea for a session topic, voting on a selection of session topics, suggesting hands-on resources, or designing part of a Minecraft challenge. They will also be able, circumstances permitting, to trial or take part in the developed sessions.

Ideally, this project would take place in schools. During COVID-19 restrictions, these elements can be conducted remotely with children who are either attending school (supported by teaching staff) or learning from home (with family support). The specific approach for each school will be discussed individually with staff.

Engineers

Engineers will also have the opportunity to co-design and deliver outreach sessions. This may be directly with schools and children as above, with Minecraft Clubs for specific groups, at public events, or with the project team (activities dependent on COVID-19 restrictions). Engineers will be able to choose their type and level of involvement to suit them.

Engineers will also receive 1:1 outreach training and have the opportunity to participate in group discussions, which will be conducted remotely to improve access and inclusion (e.g. for those with caring responsibilities).

Children, their teachers and parents/carers, and engineers will all be asked to provide evaluative information and will be able to contribute to the project’s ongoing direction and development.

Who can take part?

This project aims to reach children who may face barriers to accessing educational opportunities and have characteristics that mean they are under-represented in Engineering.

The project has a particular focus on supporting:

  • Women and girls
  • People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
  • People from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds (e.g. eligible for Pupil Premium, or from areas with low progression to Higher Education)
  • Looked After Children/Care leavers

Under-represented groups can also include people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicities, with disabilities or long-term illnesses, in rural areas or limited access to services, who were/would be the first generation in the their family to go to university, who are carers/young carers, and with English as an Additional Language (NB this list is not exhaustive).

Representation is really important in enabling young people to feel that engineering is ‘for them’, so engineers who fall (or would have fallen, as children) into these groups are particularly encouraged to join the project.

Engineers can be from any engineering field, based in the UK. Whilst we recognise the value of undergraduate students, we are not able to offer places to them for this project. UWE provides public engagement training for undergraduate engineering students through the Engineering and Society module.

Further information and get involved

Building to Break Barriers is delivered by Dr Laura Hobbs and Sophie Bentley at UWE Bristol. They are assisted by Dr Calum Hartley, Professor Carly Stevens and Dr Jackie Hartley at Lancaster University, Dr Thom Wilcockson at the University of Loughborough, and Dr Paul Redford at UWE Bristol. The project is funded by an Ingenious grant from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Schools who are interested in being involved should contact Laura and Sophie on ExtendingSTEM@uwe.ac.uk. Unless already involved with Science Hunters, parents/carers of children should ask their child’s school to contact us.

Engineers who are interested in being involved can complete an expression of interest here, and will be contacted when outreach can begin. Engineers in the West of England can also become part of the new initiative for Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Diversity Demonstrator database of diverse engineering role models; sign up to the mailing list here.

The project ends in January 2022. For more information or if you have any questions, please contact Laura and Sophie at ExtendingSTEM@uwe.ac.uk

WISE Webinar: Accommodating working parents in the tech sector

Posted on

“Why restrict our talent pool and drive away our most experienced people? Through this talk, I want to share our success stories, encouraging other companies to better accommodate working parents. A long-term career in technology is something that should be achievable for everyone, no matter what life brings you”

Jo Haslam

The Parent Trap: Accommodating working parents in the technology sector

Wednesday 12th February

2:00-2:30 pm

WISE members (which includes UWE Bristol) can sign up for this webinar on 12th February to hear from 2019 WISE Computing Award Winner Jo Haslam, as she explores how the technology sector is accommodating working parents.

You’ll hear about her experiences in the games industry, becoming a mother and being determined not to become another statistic.

Sign up here.

Find out more about the importance of diversity in engineering

Posted on

Why is diversity important in engineering? According to, the Royal Academy of Engineering, addressing diversity and inclusion not only helps to bridge the UK’s engineering skills gap, it also drives innovation and creativity. 

“Addressing diversity and inclusion will not only help bridge this gap, it will also help drive innovation and creativity”. 

Royal Academy of Engineering

They present a business case for diversity which includes:

  • Addressing the engineering skills gap;
  • Improved financial importance;
  • Greater innovation and creativity;
  • Inclusion-driven higher business performance;
  • Increased motivation, productivity and retention;
  • Improved customer orientation, and
  • Increased customer satisfaction.

Retention of women in engineering in particular received attention this summer when UWE’s Dr Laura Fogg Rogers and Dr Laura Hobbs published their paper ‘Catch 22 — improving visibility of women in science and engineering for both recruitment and retention‘. Drawing on their mentoring and outreach project Women Like Me, which relaunches next week, they propose that enhancing self-efficacy (Laura Fogg Rogers, along with Dr Tim Moss, also recently published research on a new Engineering Outreach Self-Efficacy Scale) for female scientists and engineers to mentor others will generate more supportive workplaces. Alongside this, supporting a female STEM professionals to undertake public engagement activities improves the visibility of diverse female role models for young girls. Ultimately, these social connections will enhance science capital for girls and other minorities.

Diversity in engineering isn’t just important in the UK. Sharon L. Walker writes about why diversity is key to the future of engineering for the University of California, highlighting the low proportion of women and people with Latino and African-American heritage in the US engineering workforce. Innovation and talent, profit, fair treatment and shifting demographics are explored as some of the reasons behind the need for a more diverse future workforce.

And Kerry Baker, posting on STEM Learning on the importance of diversity in engineering, explains how this affects all of us:

“…have you ever used something and thought: “This doesn’t work how I would like it to” or “If I’d made this I would have put it together differently”? If the answer is yes, then this is the reason why engineering needs people from all backgrounds and walks of life, it needs people with all sorts of different life experiences and thought processes”.

STEM Learning

Women Like Me relaunches for 2019-20

Posted on

Only 12% of engineers in the UK are women. Is this enough?

No, it’s really not – we have an engineering skills shortage as it is, and the low proportion of women in the workforce means that a whole pool of talent is going untapped. Girls need to be able to see engineering as for them, connect with it as career and have access to positive female role models. And in turn, women need to feel supported to make a difference in the workplace once they get there, so that they not only go into, but stay in engineering roles.

To do something about that and bring people together, we launched ‘Women Like Me’, a project to open doors to girls and build resilience for women in engineering and funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious scheme, last year at UWE Bristol.

The project was a huge success – we paired 21 mid-career (senior) women engineers with 21 junior women engineers (less than five years’ experience) in the Bristol and Bath area, in order to provide career and public engagement mentoring. The junior engineers took part in outreach activities resulting in over 10,240 children being engaged in with women engineers, through a variety of methods including school visits, public events and nationwide online presentations. After participating, engineers felt much more confident to undertake education outreach, and more likely to continue public engagement following the project. 

You can read more about the outcomes of Women Like Me in 2018-2019 in this blog post and in the project report.

Building on the achievements of the first year, Dr Laura Hobbs and Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers will once again be running the project over the next year; we both have lots of experience of delivering outreach and engagement projects and are passionate about making Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths accessible to everyone, at all stages.

If you are interested in taking part in Women Like Me in 2019-20, please read on to find out who can take part and how to apply.

Supporting women and girls in engineering

Women Like Me is a peer mentoring and outreach project aimed at boosting female representation in engineering. So what does that actually mean?

The project will pair senior women engineers with junior women engineers to give them mentoring support as they start out in their engineering careers. In turn, junior women will undertake engineering education outreach in schools and at public events in the Bristol and Bath area. Engineering is a creative, socially conscious, and collaborative discipline, and this project aims to support girls and women to make a difference in society.

Who can take part?

Mid-career and early career female engineers working in the Bristol and Bath area can get involved in the project. Senior women engineers have been working in engineering for more than five years. Junior women engineers are those with less than five years, and can include apprentices, trainees, students and postdoctoral researchers.

What will it involve?

We will offer networking opportunities to all participants during the project. Senior engineers will receive training in mentoring and meet with their junior engineer mentee at least twice during the project.

Junior engineers will receive mentoring support from senior engineers and training in public engagement. They will then undertake at least three engineering outreach activities in local schools and at local public events. Activities and coordination of events is provided and supported by UWE; participation is voluntary and we’ll cover travel expenses.

How can I find out more or sign up?

To apply for a place on this year’s programme, please complete the relevant enrolment form:

Women Like Me 2019-20 Junior engineer enrolment

Women Like Me 2019-20 Senior engineer enrolment

For more information, please email engineeringourfuture@uwe.ac.uk. You can also follow the project on Twitter for updates.

Women Like Me is based in the Science Communication Unit and Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE). The project is organised by Dr Laura Hobbs and was initiated by Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers. By matching senior and junior female engineers and supporting junior engineers to connect with the children and young people as the engineers of tomorrow, the project will lead to impact both in the workplace today, and for the future of the engineering profession.

The successes of Women Like Me 2018-2019

Posted on

In 2018, Women Like Me launched at UWE as a tiered mentoring project for women in engineering. Delivered by Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers and Dr Laura Hobbs, the project was a great success, engaging over 10,000 children with engineering outreach and significantly improving engineers’ confidence. Some findings of the first year’s project report are summarised here.

Only 12% of engineers in the UK are women. For democratic, utilitarian and equity reasons this is not enough. Both recruitment and retention are important – more girls need to connect with engineering as a creative, socially conscious, collaborative discipline, and more women need to be supported to make a difference in the workplace. 


Funded in 2018-2019 by a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grant, the ‘Curiosity Connections – Women Like Me’ project aimed to change this through tiered mentoring and role modelling. Previous research by Laura Fogg-Rogers indicates how important peer group and leadership support is for women, providing vicarious experience and changing social norms. This means that women need peer support to thrive in the workplace, and that girls need to see women succeeding in STEM careers in order to feel that engineering is for them. 


This project therefore paired 21 mid-career (senior) women engineers with 21 junior women engineers (less than five years’ experience) in the Bristol and Bath area, in order to provide career and public engagement mentoring. The outreach activities resulted in over 10,240 children being engaged in public engagement with women engineers, through a variety of methods including school visits, public events and nationwide online presentations. 

Junior engineers felt significantly more equipped to take part in public engagement


The junior engineers reported that they now feel significantly more equipped to take part in public engagement; 54% of junior engineers felt fairly well equipped before the project and this increased to 68% after the project, with 38% indicating they were very well equipped. Similarly, the mean score on the Engineering Outreach Self-Efficacy Scale significantly improved from 6.80 to 8.41 (out of 10). This indicates that the engineers are now much more confident to undertake education outreach, and are then more likely to continue public engagement following the project. 

The report therefore concludes that mentoring is highly important to ensure a supportive workplace, which means that women are more likely to be retained in the engineering industry.

The full report can be downloaded from the UWE research repository and a paper in Journal of Science Communication, drawing on the results, is now available (open access).

Women Like Me will relaunch in October 2019. To express an interest in taking part, please register your email address here.

UWE Bristol Engineering student featured in The Guardian

Posted on

The UWE Bristol MEng Aerospace Engineering course, and student Prisilla Johnson who has also gained a private licence with a UWE Bristol partner flying school in the US, have been featured in The Guardian.

“Prisilla Johnson always dreamed of becoming a pilot. Now, studying MEng aerospace engineering at UWE Bristol, she’s not only making her dream come true, but also playing her part in boosting gender equality in engineering

It’s great to see in the article that Prisilla feels that she has been able to grow at UWE Bristol through the opportunities that have been offered to her. The full feature can be read here.

Header image: Jonathan Cherry/Guardian

Back to top