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.

Local Schools Take on Sustainable Transport Challenge

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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.”

Women Like Me relaunches for 2020-21

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

The project was first launched in 2018 and is based in the Science Communication Unit and Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics at UWE Bristol. The project is organised by Dr Laura Hobbs and Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers, and is supported by the initiative for Digital Engineering Technology & Innovation (DETI).

Women Like Me pairs senior women engineers with junior women engineers to undertake mentoring and engineering education outreach in the West of England region. 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 mid-career women engineers with junior women engineers to provide career and public engagement mentoring. Junior engineers will 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 West of England region 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 (autumn 2020) and end (summer 2021) of the project. Depending on COVID restrictions, these may take place virtually. 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, which again, may be virtual. Coordination of activity is provided and supported by UWE.

How do I sign up?

To take part in the project this year, participants should complete the DETI Diversity Demonstrator survey and select Women Like Me from the list of areas of interest (along with any other areas you are interested in!) by Friday 4th December. The project coordinators will then be in touch having allocated the mentor/mentee pairs.

Want some more info?

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. You can also watch the recording from this year’s launch event below.

Recording of WLM Launch Webinar, Nov 2020

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

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.

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

Children inspired engineers at the South West Leaders Award exhibition held at UWE Bristol

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The winners of the 2019 Leaders Award gathered at UWE Bristol for the South West awards ceremony on Friday 14th June.

The competition challenged children to answer the question: ‘If you were an engineer, what would you do?’ by identifying a problem that engineering could solve, and devising a solution.

From magnet wielding helicopters that tow broken down cars skyward, to surveillance parrots that alert wildlife trusts to hunters – the children’s designs tackled a great diversity of problems in modern society.

Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Chris Skidmore joined UWE Bristol Vice-Chancellor Steve West and MOD DE&S Air Marshall Julian Young to congratulate those who entered the competition. While the competition launches by using online interviews with real-life engineers to inspire the children, they all agreed that in the end it’s the children’s designs that inspire engineers!

Throughout this year, engineers in EDM have been supporting the competition, by grading 4385 entries, and taking part in the final judging panel. UWE Bristol is the South West regional supporter alongside Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) – the Ministry of Defence’s procurement organisation.

The ceremony finished with a flourish, with student engineers Katy O’Hara Nash and Miriam Cristofoletti from the EDM WISE society, presenting the prototype they have made based on the winning design from last year’s competition. The system, designed by Year 8 pupil Philippa Griffiths, displays variable red lights on the back of a vehicle to alert other drivers of the severity of the braking and levels of attention needed.

Dr Lisa Brodie, Head of Department for Engineering Design and Mathematics said:

“We are always inspired by the children’s designs for the Leaders Awards. This year our female engineering students have gone one step further by actually taking a design, and building a prototype. It shows the passion and ingenuity in our region, both from local children, but also our own students. Through these public events we want to demonstrate our commitment to developing STEM technologies and a highly-skilled workforce which can enhance our future together.”  

The prototype, along with this year’s shortlisted entries, were on display on Saturday 15th June at the University’s Exhibition and Conference Centre (ECC). Hundreds of visitors of all ages were able to try it out, as well as taking part in exciting STEM activities provided by the MOD, Aerospace Bristol, and UWE. The displays included having a go with drones, Lego Mindstorm, and a virtual reality tour of the new Engineering Building.

Free Public STEM Open Day at UWE Bristol

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Saturday 15th June 2019

10:00 – 15:00

UWE Bristol’s Exhibition and Conference Centre, Frenchay Campus

Come and spot which inventions you think will be the tech of the future at the Leaders Award Exhibition day on Saturday 15th June.

You’ll be amazed by the ingenious inventions of local school children who set out to answer the question – “If you were an engineer, what would you do?” Shortlisted regional designs will be on display for the public to explore, alongside science and engineering demonstrations. Stir your curiosity with Lego Mindstorm robots, try out VR goggles, build a city, and have a go with drones.

Register on Eventbrite:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-south-west-of-england-leaders-award-2019-public-exhibition-tickets-59517993922?fbclid=IwAR20Qik5FLDpQlGi-swYBlIde2n1bGSkFCnGA3PbOioBYpHl35kRRmaXx_s

Inspire future scientists and engineers at the Great Science Share

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The Great Science Share is a national event nurturing children’s natural curiosity by encouraging them to share their original science investigations with scientists, with the regional Bristol and Bath event taking place at UWE Bristol in June:

Tuesday 18th June 2019

10 am – 2 pm

Exhibition and Conference Centre

North Entrance, Filton Road, UWE Bristol

Scientists and engineers are invited to attend, to find out what local children aged 8 – 13 have come up with, and to inspire participants with their research, demos and cutting-edge technology.

To bring an outreach activity, please email louisa.cockbill@uwe.ac.uk. Further information about what schools will be bringing can be found on the Curiosity Connections website.

UWE Bristol is hosting the Bristol and Bath Great Science Share in association with Curiosity Connections Bristol, Bath Spa University, and the Association for Science Education West.

Please contact Louisa Cockbill for more information and feel free to pass on to anyone you think would be interested.

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…

Women Like Me – a new engineering outreach project at UWE Bristol

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Only 11% 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.

So what can we do about that, and how can we bring people together? Here at UWE Bristol, we’re launching ‘Women Like Me’; a project which aims to open doors to girls and build resilience for women in engineering. Laura Fogg Rogers and Dr Laura Hobbs will 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.

 

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 are those who are more than five years post-graduation from their first degree. Junior women engineers are those with less than five years of experience since entering the engineering profession, and can include apprentices, trainees, postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

Undergraduates aren’t eligible to take part; whilst they are fantastic role models, UWE already provides public engagement training for undergraduate engineering students through the Engineering and Society module.

What will it involve?

We will offer networking opportunities to all participants at the start (October 2018) and end (April 2019) of 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?

For more information or to get involved, 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 at the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE), supported by the WISE Bristol Hub and STEM Ambassador Hub West England and funded by a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grant. The project is organised by Dr Laura Hobbs and was initiated by 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.

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