A toolkit and training for youth climate social action

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A toolkit and training for effective youth climate comms and social action

UWE Bristol’s Science Communication Unit (SCU) is launching a new Youth Climate Action Toolkit to empower young people to act on things that matter to them. The toolkit is suitable for 16-24-year-olds, and we encourage you to please download and share the kit with any (young) person you think may benefit from these tools!

The newly developed toolkit has been produced in partnership with young people from the Avon Schools Eco Network, following pilot training held with the DETI Inspire team in the School of Engineering.

The pilot involved 12 young climate activists who learnt how to be more effective with their own campaigning, whilst forming the foundations of this new toolkit to support other young people. As well as empowering young people to act, the toolkit aims to speak with and engage diverse audiences that may not otherwise take part (e.g., through filmmaking, persuasive writing and interactive stalls, etc).

What is inside the toolkit?

To allow any young person to use the materials independently of the training, the toolkit has been designed to stand-alone or complement the training. It consists of four sections:

  • Section one: lays the foundations for effective team working, with a skills audit for young people to assess their baseline entrepreneurial skills for sustainability, and time set aside to define their action project based on need
  • Section two: encourages readers to understand different worldviews – including those from different sides of the political spectrum, and people in positions of power and influence
  • Section three: drills down into the communication methods, allowing readers to select the right method for their audience and to prototype and test their communications
  • Section four: encourages readers to reflect on their learnings, re-assess their skills and evaluate the impact of their communications

Training in the community

The SCU team have also been delivering the Youth Climate Communications to local colleges and youth groups. The training is modular, which allows it to be adapted to suit the needs and interests of the organisations involved.

The training is already being modified to suit the needs of one college, where they have aims to support a more sustainable educational environment by delivering to their students over a two-week period at the end of term. Students will vote on a priority for action within their college and then work in teams, with the support of a coach, developing a communications and behaviour change campaign which could then be delivered in the following term.

The young people’s experience of the programme is being evaluated to better understand whether their attitudes, skills and behaviours relating to sustainability, change as a result of the training. Findings will be shared on this blog later this year.

For empowerment programmes

Meanwhile, aspects of the training are also being delivered to participants of more established empowerment programmes, such as this year’s Catalyse Change programme, Bristol Education Partnership’s Climate Challenge and The Global Goals Centre’s Groundbreakers awards, with the toolkit also featuring in the Groundbreakers’ action pack.

A future aim of the project is to deliver the training online to youth groups and educational establishments across the country, and beyond, with training provided to educators to deliver the programme themselves. For a taster of what this training could look like, head to our YouTube where you can access the social media component of the training.

Where it all began

The training emerged from conversations among the SCU and colleagues about the desire to share our knowledge on climate communications and active citizenship more broadly, so when a funding opportunity arose the Unit was quick to pull together a team to make their dream a reality. The all-female team consists of academics and researchers in disciplines ranging from human geography, engineering, and environmental anthropology – to building physics and entrepreneurship. What unites them is a common interest in supporting young people to develop the skills and confidence they need to take action about things that matter to them.

This training is the first offering from UWE’s Climate Action Hub, also established by the SCU. The Hub is a place for researchers and students to connect with communities for climate action. There is already some work on campus doing just this, such as the children’s workshops delivered by DETI Inspire and Inspire Sustainability, but this is the first time training has been put in place to support the University and communities to do more.

To find out more about the in-person and online toolkit or to connect to the Climate Action Hub, email project manager Sophie Laggan.

To download the toolkit click here.

Engaging Children in STEM Through Storytelling

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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.

A digital future is coming. Let’s make it an inclusive one.

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Are you an engineer or someone who works in, or is interested in, digital engineering and technology sectors in the West of England, UK?   

What would make the sector more inclusive for you?

Come to our Listening Workshops this summer to share with us your hopes and the challenges you face.

These listening workshops are for individuals, underrepresented/ underserved people, so we can work with and for you, as part of the Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) Skills and Workforce Development Programme led by the Engineering Design and Mathematics department at UWE Bristol, helping remove barriers and open up access to digital skills, jobs and technologies.

The technology and engineering sectors have some of the biggest skills shortages in the UK, but also some of the greatest opportunities for future jobs. We want to proactively include as many people as possible in the future of digital.

We will be hosting several listening workshops throughout June and July, for different groups of individuals currently underrepresented or underserved in engineering. Each workshop will provide opportunities for you to share your voice, participate in discussions and network with like-minded people.

Register your interest here.


A big thanks to This is Engineering for the use of their image. For more diverse engineering images, visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/thisisengineering/


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. DETI is funded by £5m from WECA, with co-investment from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.

Women Like Me supports another 30 women in engineering

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Based in the Science Communication Unit and Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE Bristol and organised by Dr Laura Hobbs and Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers, Women Like Me is a peer mentoring and outreach project, aimed at boosting female representation in engineering. It is supported by the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI).

After launching a new round in November 2020, the project has recently inducted a new cohort. Thirty women in engineering have been matched into 15 mentoring pairs, connecting senior engineers with junior engineers. The junior engineers are being linked to outreach opportunities, which despite current restrictions are available to undertake through remote provision and online platforms.

Participating engineers in this cohort come to the project from a range of engineering fields, including aerospace, civil engineering, renewable energy, robotics and more. Outreach opportunities such as The Big Beam In are available to participate in, with more to come.

With women making up only 12% of engineers in the UK, 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. Find out more about the importance of diversity in engineering here.

Women Like Me addresses this by pairing mid-career women engineers with junior women engineers to provide career and public engagement mentoring. Junior engineers delivering engineering engagement activities in local schools and at local public events, provide 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.

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.

Future Quest launch #IAmFirstGen campaign

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Were you the first in your family to go to university?

If so, Future Quest would like you to share your story as part of their #IAmFirstGen campaign.

What is #IAmFirstGen?

The #IAmFirstGen campaign aims to highlight that anyone can study at university, regardless of their background, and that there are lots of different journeys into higher education.

One barrier to young people attending university is often that they don’t see themselves as belonging at a university, as they think that there is nobody like them studying at degree level. The campaign plans to dispel this myth by showcasing different stories from graduates.

To do this, #IAmFirstGen will bring together companies, organisations, and individuals across the South West to form a community of students and graduates that are the first in their family to study at degree level. This pool of ‘first in family’ ambassadors will highlight the diversity of educational journeys and career pathways that people in various sectors have followed and support the progression of young people who possess skills and talent, but who do not have the networks or connections in their chosen sector.  

By telling personal stories, the transformative power of higher education experiences can be shared with young people from first generation backgrounds to help build their expectations and create their own narrative for the future.  

Who can take part?

There a few different ways to get involved, whether you are an individual, small social enterprise or large business.

Individuals: Become a First Gen Ambassador. Commit to sharing personal stories of your journey to and through higher education and onto your current employment, and support First Gen learners to build their own stories.

First Gen Employers: Commit to targeted outreach and graduate recruitment activities to further the opportunities for First Gen learners, with support from UWE Bristol and the Future Quest Outreach Hub.

What do you need to do?

First Gen Ambassadors:  If you are a first generation graduate, share your experiences by writing a Letter To Previous Self. You can find downloadable guidance and examples of letters here.

First Gen Employers:  Show your support by sharing news of the campaign with your colleagues and networks and help to reach people that may be able to contribute a letter.

We know that organisations are increasingly recognising the value of diversity and want to support the social mobility agenda. More than 500 organisations, including UWE Bristol, have signed the Social Mobility Pledge, committing to closing opportunity gaps and working together to address inequalities. Supporting #IAmFirstGen will enable your business to further social mobility and celebrate first generation graduate colleagues.

Future Quest is a collaborative outreach project based at UWE Bristol, providing targeted outreach in areas where progression into higher education is lower than might be predicted from GCSE results.  For more information about Future Quest or the #IAmFirstGen campaign please contact the team via future.quest@uwe.ac.uk

Building to Break Barriers – a different view of engineering

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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

DETI Inspire launch new Diversity Demonstrator

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Exciting work is underway within the EDM department at UWE Bristol, as we begin establishing the Diversity Demonstrator as part of our work for the Inspire branch of DETI Skills.

The Inspire branch of DETI aims to address the nationwide skills and employment gap in engineering by championing science for children in the West of England. In order to appeal to under-represented groups and so increase diversity in the profession, DETI Inspire will particularly focus on breaking stereotypes and challenging perceptions about STEM careers.

One of the ways we hope to achieve this is by shaping a Diversity Demonstrator – a network of diverse engineering role models to champion engineering public engagement and inspire the next generation of digital engineers.

Why are role models important?

“You can’t be what you can’t see”

Marian Wright Edelman

Children need to be able to see engineering as ‘for them’. They need access to positive role models who look like them, to help connect with it as a career and visualize themselves as an engineer.

This is particularly important for children from under-represented groups within the industry, including those from low socio-economic backgrounds, girls, black and minority ethnic individuals.

So if you are a current student, alumni, staff or industry professional and would like to be part of our network of diverse engineering role models, please register your interest with this short survey

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 & Simulation, Digital Catapult, the University of the West of England, the University of Bristol, and the University of Bath. DETI is funded by £5m from WECA, with co-investment from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and industry.

People vector created by pikisuperstar – www.freepik.com

Find out more about the importance of diversity in engineering

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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

BAME Girls in Engineering great success at Bristol Brunel Academy

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Dr Udonna Okeke tells us about a hugely successfull visit of his project,  BAME girls in engineering, to Bristol Brunel Academy in this guest post.

BAME Girls in engineering in partnership with UWE BoxED, had an outreach event at the Bristol Brunel Academy on Thursday 9th May and I am extremely excited to say that the feedback from the school has been very positive.

The school is happy with our outreach project and are very keen for more outreach and other engagements with the project. Based on the feedback, the students are very happy with the outreach activities that took place and would like us to make a return visit.

Below is some of the feedback from the students:

“Excellent: it was fun, exiting and very interesting. The robotics coding was very fun, especially when we were controlling the robots”

“I thought it was very good and inspiring and I liked making the turbines and playing with the robots. I want the outreach to happen again on a Thursday”

“It was nice and fun when we listened to the talk and was given the opportunity to code and control the robots”.

This feedback means a lot to me and I am looking forward to the next phase of this project.

BAME Girls in Engineering celebrates International Women’s Day with Rolls Royce

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On Friday 8th March 2019, UWE Bristol project BAME Girls in Engineering celebrated International Women’s Day with a visit to Rolls Royce.

The project team, led by Dr Udonna Okeke, took BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity) girls from City Academy Bristol to the Rolls Royce site in Filton for half a day. They received an inspirational presentation session by successful women at Rolls Royce from across the world, tours around the different facilities and a networking session with senior leadership and employees of Rolls Royce.

Udonna told us:

“The students left the event highly inspired, knowing that they can be the next generation of engineers that can impact the world.”

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