As we start a new academic era at Redmoor, with our first cohort of Year 10 students enjoying their new optional subjects, our engineering initiatives go from strength to strength. We have been fortunate to grow the STEM team with some fabulously experienced staff and their enthusiasm is remarkable.
After receiving an Engineering Education Grant from the IET and the IMechE at the end of last term we have been developing the extension of our Engage Enjoy Engineer scheme with various engagement and strategic activities.
Our first event was the Women in Engineering day back in June with over 300 girls taking part in a day supported enthusiastically by some of our local industries – Mira, Triumph and National Grid, among others. The girls engaged in numerous activities all designed to get the ‘not just for boys’ message across .
This was followed by a ‘Future Engineers’ STEM day for our new intake which, despite the fact that a large proportion of our local community were enjoying the traditional Leicester holiday, was well attended. The young students learnt about the application of chemical engineering in the morning session and then moved onto some topical design engineering applied to a zoo setting. The day was launched with an engaging introduction from the By Design Group and despite not knowing what to expect the young engineers provided some enlightening feedback at the end of the day.
Whilst the majority of these youngsters had an enjoyable day, enjoyment alone gives us little measure of the impact of this type of initiative. As such, the young students were asked some targeted questions at the start and at the end of the day:
Gender I know what an engineer does (%) I know what engineering is (%)
Boys (before) 63% 38%
Boys (after) 94% 94%
Girls (before) 33% 17%
Girls (after) 56% 61%
At this age, engagement isn’t a problem but we do need to ensure that the students develop a deeper understanding of the different fields of engineering and the role an engineer can play in the developing economy. Once they know what’s involved, we can then start to encourage them to consider a career in this sector.
Since the start of the new term, we now have a group of 30 year 9 and 10 students studying the Principles of engineering and the engineering business world in a period 6 optional GCSE class. A trip to some of our local businesses is currently being planned for these students.
Our extracurricular provision goes from strength to strength with students engaging in Vex Robotics, Greeenpower engineering, First Lego League and Fun STEM activities in the first 4 weeks of the new term. Indeed our Greenpower Trust racing team are busily preparing for their race at Rockingham; as ever, we are hugely grateful for the continued support from Campbell Scientific and Mira as we prepare for this event.
Our team of young female engineering students who have won a place in the CanSAT final with the National STEM Center are busy learning the principles of electronic engineering and we are in the process of trying to engage an appropriate STEM ambassador to help with this project (please do get in touch if you can help us out!)
Over the next few weeks we will be introducing some design engineering as our students prepare for some serious buggy racing at our Big Bang event in December. This year, our 3rd Big Bang@School event, we are hoping to engage even more of the local community in all things STEM.
Taking our inspiration from the brilliant Joseph Whittaker engineering team we will, fingers crossed, soon be seeing the delivery of a 40ft shipping container which will be converted into an engineering lab for our students and other groups from the local community – a space to make, break, test and improve; a chance for every student to experience the thrill of exploration and design; and a relaxed and student-led environment to allow their imaginations to run wild away from the narrowing constraints of the curriculum.
A new initiative for this term has seen us pairing up with the team from Primary Engineer to support 6 local primary schools as they deliver this DT based engineering project. The training day, kindly hosted by Caterpillar was a huge success and saw each of the primary schools paired up with their own engineering ambassador. As well as the end of year celebration event, the aim is to hold local competitions between the primary schools providing mentoring opportunities for our own Redmoor students.
It is impossible to measure the true impact of our initiatives but, in my new role as CEAIG coordinator I have been carrying out some baseline audits with our year 9 pupils. What is encouraging is not just the number of students who are stating already that they wish to be engineers, not even the fact that a significant number of our girls want to be engineers, but more important, I believe, is the level of understanding that these students already have in terms of the various fields of engineering – to have students differentiating between aeronautical engineering, software engineering, design engineering and biomedical engineering at this stage in their young careers is incredibly rewarding. As the school continues to mature we look forward to seeing our students taking their first steps to a bright engineering future.
Senior Leader STEM