Engineering our way to a new era at Redmoor Academy

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 .2015-06-23 10.37.18

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.

Jo Cox

Senior Leader STEM

CEIAG Coordinator

Redmoor Academy.

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Enthuse Secondary Science Leader 2015: and why we should make the task of the SLC even more difficult next year.

It is incredibly humbling to be recognised as the Enthuse Secondary Science Leader for this year and to join the ranks of those previously accredited as National Expert STEM teachers. For every one of us that has been recognised this time around there are many more who will go unrecognised for their dedicated contribution to STEM education. When I look around at the remarkable work that other teachers get up to, it is easy to feel fraudulent – but the reality is that it doesn’t really matter who picked up the glass trophy – it just matters that there are plenty of us who could have done so.

I have stated many times that I don’t see my role as a teacher of science; but more someone who has a responsibility to find and nurture our future scientists, to develop their skills and understanding, to enthuse and encourage and ultimately to make a difference. Unfortunately, a great proportion of the day job is to get students to an acceptable standard determined by a group of people who don’t know the capabilities, passions, and personalities of the students I teach. It goes without saying – this ‘day job’ is an essential role of every classroom teacher but it shouldn’t be the only one.

We have a responsibility to take the proverbial hand of all our students and guide them towards a career that they may or may not have considered. We won’t reach everyone, however hard we try, but try we must and to do this well we need to be reformists. To be recognised as the professionals we are, we need to be constantly updating our own knowledge and trying out new experiences so that we are able to mentor the multitude of personalities that are entrusted to us.

At a recent science leaders meeting, learning about a novel method of formative assessment, which develops deeper thinking and evaluative skills, I was stunned to hear the teacher to my right stating that no he would be adopting it, he had been teaching ‘for years’ and knew what he was doing. I challenged him about CPD but he doesn’t have time for that. A member of my team was told only this week, whilst supporting students displaying project work at the Big Bang, ‘you only do it because you’re young and enthusiastic’.

These attitudes, quite simply, are unacceptable – we should be delivering what we have to, teaching what we want to and inspiring where we need to – if we expect our students to learn, we should be setting an example and doing it with them.

If winning this award can inspire others to find the time, to step outside of their comfort zone and engage in some meaningful CPD then it absolutely will have been worth it. Thank you to the Science Learning Centre for choosing me this year – let’s hope you have an even more difficult task next year when the number of accreditation applications increases even further. And to the Wellcome Trust for your invaluable sponsorship, a thousand thanks.

Jo Cox

Redmoor Academy

Enthuse Secondary science leader 2015

Evaluating STEM engagement – what impact did NWED 2015 have on our girls?

Our event for National Women in Engineering Day was the first major offering as part of the 2 year Engage Enjoy Engineer project, funded by the EEGS via IMechE and IET.

All of the Girls at Redmoor Academy took part during various sessions of the day. None of the girls spent the whole day on this activity as it was run alongside a normal school timetable. Year 9 girls attended for 2 hours, year 8 girls for 3 hours and year 7 girls for 4 hours. In addition, we had 3 visiting primary schools on site for 3 hours each.

The day was supported by Mira, Triumph, National Grid, Atkins Global, VEX robotics, STEMNET, FUZE coding, Coventry university and our IOP schools network partner Suzanne Woolhouse; As well as Sixth form students and a member of staff from John Cleveland College.

There were 4 workshops on offer, which girls were randomly assigned to:

  • Physics is fun
  • Civil engineering
  • Coding
  • Humanitarian engineering

In addition, there was an exhibition area in the gym that the girls could access for a one hour session.

So how have we evaluated the impact of the day? Having had various discussions with Peter Finegold at the IMechE, it made sense to use their evaluation tool which aims to test impact based on three key areas:

  • Enjoyment
  • Transformative thinking
  • New knowledge

imeche evaluation

I have adapted the data collection method slightly to suit our own requirements but the basic premise is the same: It is easy to assess superficial enjoyment but just because the students have had a great day out, doesn’t necessarily justify the time and effort that goes into putting on these types of events. Equally, a negative response, in terms of enjoyment, cannot capture any new knowledge that the students might have learnt – however grudgingly!

I have inputted the data separately for KS2 and KS3

KS2 girls (n=63)

All the girls, year 6 pupils, enjoyed the event, which was clear to see and they all said they would like to do something similar another time. That, in itself, whilst great to hear tells us very little about the impact of the day. At this time of year, when all students have been taking exams, you could argue that any deviation from the normal routine would be welcome. To make a better judgement on the impact, we need to look at what they have learnt from the event and whether there has been a change in attitude:

  • 84% of the girls felt that they had learned new things
  • 80% of the girls stated that they knew more about engineering after the event
  • 76% felt they now had a better understanding of what engineers do
  • 62% of the girls stated that they would consider a career in engineering now.

NWED 2015 heagon results ks2 NWED

So, overall a great sense of enjoyment and a significant amount of learning, although it could be argued that the girls have not necessarily linked this learning to engineering. There is some enthusiasm from these youngsters to be engineers but perhaps less understanding of what the career actually involves at this stage – a positive and encouraging starting point for the project.

 

KS3 girls (n=211)

As above, there was evidence of a great sense of enjoyment (91%) and indeed lots of girls made reference to the fact that they would have liked to have the whole day to enjoy the events. 93% of the girls would like to take part in a similar event. Equally, there were a number who, having been pulled from their ‘favourite’ lessons to take part were not quite as enthusiastic when they realised they were having to return to other lessons – I did hear several girls saying ‘why can’t I have missed….instead!’

  • 78% of the girls felt that they had learned new things
  • 96% of the girls stated that they knew more about engineering after the event
  • 94% felt they now had a better understanding of what engineers do
  • 59% of the girls stated that they would consider a career in engineering now

NWED 2015 ks3 heagon results ks3 NWED

These results are equally encouraging – lots of engagement and new engineering knowledge acquired – perhaps less transformative thinking but this gives us a good starting point for future events. The year 9 results, specifically, were interesting with almost 70% stating categorically they were not interested in an engineering career – they knew what was involved, they knew what engineers did but only a quarter of them saw it as a future pathway and this isn’t necessarily because they all know what they do want to do in the future. In actual fact you could argue that the 26% of year 9s who would consider a career in engineering is perhaps a positive figure.

I am no data analyst and this is not meant to be an in-depth study of any results collected; in actual fact, this analysis took very little time as the spreadsheets had already been set up; but this form of evaluation has certainly been useful. It would appear that the day was very well received – we knew the majority of students had enjoyed themselves but to be able to evidence the link to any change of heart s and minds is very encouraging.

With regards to KS2 pupils, we need to continue with the exposure to engineering activities, to develop an understanding of what engineering is. However, with our older pupils they clearly understand what engineering is – they now need further exposure to real engineers who can enthuse them about their individual careers. Over the next two years, we will be measuring the impact of the Engage Enjoy Engineer project and hopefully will be able to see a change in perceptions across all age groups.

Why can’t we engineer the solution?

Students up and down the country, from a very young age, want to be engineers; Industry is continually quoting a shortfall in qualified engineers…..so what’s the problem?

I think it’s us. As a collective, we, as members of the education system make it incredibly difficult for our youngsters to get across that metaphorical gap between schools and industry….and it’s not through a lack of enthusiasm, passion, determination and dedication from staff – the system just doesn’t work.

I have recently been invited to participate in the Big Ideas in Engineering Education workshop being held by the IMECHE and the RAE, where we will be addressing emerging ideas in education.

It’s genuinely quite depressing at times when industry partners can’t see any improvements, nor the potential for improvements in increasing the numbers of engineering graduates and apprentices; despite the fact that many schools are engaging their students in excellent opportunities offered by a plethora of organisations such as the IET, Tomorrow’s Engineers, Young Engineers, Practical Action, the SmallPiece Trust and many more.

The range of opportunities is stunning and I get many calls from people, wanting to develop STEM clubs, asking where to start; it is very easy to be bamboozled by the various projects on offer. Should they start with First Lego league, Vex robotics, Greenpower Formula 24, F1 in schools, 4×4 challenge ….I could go on but the point is there are many engaging activities out there and many schools and colleges doing a superb job at getting their students on board – boys AND girls. Add to this the increasingly relevant and targeted CPD offered by the NSLC, the National STEM Centre – most notably their Teacher Industry Placement scheme and you would think the problem has been sorted. Not so…

I was recently at the CLIC Innovation centre at Caterpillar with a group of our young engineers watching them build a brake pedal from component parts; one of our youngsters had this built in minutes, literally. (Is this where I confess to failing miserably at this challenge?) The instructor, who had already told me how she spends thousands of pounds on recruiting apprentices, was blown away and identified this youngster (and to be honest ALL of those present) as being superb candidates for the apprenticeship scheme….as long as they get a C/D in English and maths at GCSE. So, hurdle number 1- there it is. It simply isn’t an attainable goal for some of our students. There are many fabulous students who struggle to achieve the appropriate grade in written english – that shouldn’t mean we shut the door to a bright future.

As part of our Engage Enjoy Engineer programme we have been welcoming a range of engineering experts to deliver talks to our students – all of them blown away by the enthusiasm and the depth of knowledge from students as young as 12. They have championed the apprenticeship scheme…available from the age of 17; and there’s another one: hurdle number 2. Some students cannot cope with the demand of AS levels, are unsure of which college courses to opt for and whilst there are a wealth of UTCs and colleges offering superb opportunities, the fact remains that we (as main school teachers) know our students, we know where they want to go, where they are best suited to go and yet we seemingly have to send them off to a stop-gap that they are neither interested in nor able to complete. The enthusiasm is lost and the potential for schools to offer a cohort of GCSE students straight onto an apprenticeship scheme is gone for good. There is clearly an obvious answer as to why students have to complete that extra year of study…..but to quote my favourite year 8s ‘I don’t get it’

As a new KS4 school we have just completed our first round of option choices and I have actively dissuaded several students from opting for triple science based on the depth and intensity of the programme of study. I want students to enjoy science, not be swamped by it. I want them to look forward to their lessons not be miserable because they have got science, science and a bit more science every week,with little else inbetween…..and it’s not down to the way we teach it Mr Gibbs (ref to a rather interesting discussion in Parliament) but more because we recognise that there are other subjects that students want to, and should indeed study; Just because a 14 year old opts to study textiles instead of opting for triple science does not mean that they cannot go on to become a successful engineer…..yet to do physics at A level it’s ‘best’ if they have done triple science. I have every confidence that our students opting for core and additional science, adding in textiles, a language and drama will have ALL the skills needed by industry – they’ll be creative, great communicators and they will have studied enough science to remain passionate and engaged about the subject. So hurdle number 3 – we need to stop making our students limit their range of study at the age of 14.

As recent winners of an EEGS bid from the IET and the IMECHE I am hugely excited at the prospect of delivering more engagement activities from KS2 to KS4. We will have a wealth of students who want to be engineers…we just need an education system that allows them to follow their dreams.

Improving STEM in schools

A speech delivered (in an abridged format) to the Westminster Higher Education Forum Keynote Seminar:

Addressing the STEM skills gap – progression to university, employer engagement and postgraduate training

Wednesday, 25th February 2015

 This presentation goes right back to the starting line of STEM engagement and explains our approach to getting younger pupils interested and skilled up for careers in the STEM industry.

As teachers of STEM subjects I believe we have a responsibility to provide extracurricular opportunities so that pupils are challenged to develop key skills outside of their normal lessons.

I recently surveyed just over 100 STEM teachers across the UK to see if this was a representative view:

unnamed3

3% disagreed with this view and felt that the new national curriculum alone was sufficient to deliver the skills that students required. Overwhelmingly the view was that we needed to provide something extra. And that is certainly what many of us are doing at lunchtimes and after school…I absolutely believe it’s the right thing to do – regardless of how challenging that can be in terms of time. Young children need to be engaged before they start studying in earnest.

So we need to provide opportunities to develop these key skills but do we actually know what skills are required? I asked the same STEM teachers if they felt confident to deliver information about working in industry:

unnamed2

You can interpret these figures in many ways but for me only 28% confidently had any idea as to what skills are needed, what careers advice to give, what a career in industry looks like – and these were all clued up, enthusiastic STEM staff. If anything the figure is positively skewed.

As teachers, we need to get skilled up and current initiatives by the Science Learning Centre, the IET and the IMechE are leading the way in this area by their Teachers Industrial Partners Scheme. I was fortunate to take part in the pilot study of this and spent two weeks (funded by the Enthuse Award scheme) at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry. – Quite simply it blew my mind, and it changed all my preconceptions about the manufacturing industry, about the skills our students need and the pathways they could follow.

It enabled me to give more focus to the opportunities we currently provide for our students, and on the back of this I set up an after school engineering course for our year 8 and year 9 – not a traditional design and build club but a complete immersion into what engineering is, who does it, how do they do it, why do they do it, and where can it lead you. The course was delivered by STEM teachers in the school and a wealth of local engineers who could see the benefits to what we were doing and came in to talk to our youngsters. We had 28 children on that first course – 42% of them were girls, which is really encouraging, and they all completed their accreditation for membership of the Institute of secondary engineers …and are incredibly proud of the fact that at the age of 12 and 13, they have letters after their names!

What became apparent was how much these pupils were inspired by the ‘real’ engineers adding weight to the concept that we need to work with industry partners – possibly even before KS3

I recently discussed this with my 17 year old son and asked him how can we encourage our youngsters to want to be engineers… his comment stopped me in my tracks with its simplicity: ‘If you want to engage young people you need to be there when they are dreaming’. And absolutely we do – we need engineers in primary schools, we need enthusiastic STEM professionals saying ‘I designed that phone you are carrying in your pocket’, ‘I developed the training shoes on your feet’, ‘I’m responsible for that asthma inhaler you rely on’……’I even put the bubbles in your chocolate bar

How exciting would be that for our youngsters!

 But who are the typical STEM students, listening to these engaging engineers?

Which students do we invite in, which students do we identify as the future STEM leaders?

In a recent publication by the IMechE [Five Tribes: Personalizing Engineering Education: Peter Finegold IMechE] it states that there needs to be a complete overhaul of the way we promote engineering in schools in order to reach out to different student groups and this is absolutely true – it isn’t just about STEM careers – it’s about promoting a variety of careers to support the UK STEM industry.

We must make sure we don’t marginalize pupils who don’t believe they are clever enough to do ‘STEM’. The industry does not just need highly academic mathematicians and physicists but also highly skilled professionals who understand the application of the theory. During my time spent at the MTC, the frequent message I was hearing was that the better engineers are those who have trained on the job – the ones who have come through the apprenticeship route who understand what the machines and equipment can do’ – and schools are well placed to start this overhaul of enthusing a variety of future STEM students.

One of our latest initiatives is to introduce a new club called STEM Performers – a group of children with a passion for dance and drama using their skills to explain difficult scientific concepts to younger children. Many of the children in this group are middle of the road in terms of academic achievement and would not consider themselves to be the STEM experts of the school, but ask them to perform, to sing and to dance and the results are startling in terms of their ability to communicate science….surely an essential skill?

Another way to attract different groups is to target those with a strong sense of technology justice, who want to make the word a better place and there is a huge interest, amongst young girls especially, in the area of humanitarian engineering – seen as a softer engineering experience. The STEM activities from the fabulous Practical action are immensely popular. If you want a sure fire way to grab the attention of youngsters get them Beating the Flood, transporting Squashed Tomatoes and designing Floating Gardens – global engineering issues accessible by all ages of students.

But however much we identify the range of students and skills required to further the development of the UK STEM industry, we are drawn back to the notion that the current education system recognises only those achievements that are measurable…and whilst we are faced with this reality, it takes a brave teacher to invest too much time in achieving the immeasurable. Fortunately, for the future of the STEM industry, there are a significant number of us around. To finish with, perhaps it’s time to seriously consider what we need to offer, teach and promote in our formative schools. Perhaps we should take note of a comment made recently by Professor Jordan Shapiro “We first have to ask what kind of world we want, and then ask what kind of education system will create that world.”
(A speech delivered (in an abridged format) to the Westminster Higher Education Forum Keynote Seminar:

Addressing the STEM skills gap – progression to university, employer engagement and postgraduate training)

Celebrating 10 years of quality Science CPD provided by the National STEM Centre: Why I think the TIPS scheme is a crucial addition to their portfolio…..

Having taken part in the pilot TIPS (Teachers Industrial Partners) scheme sponsored by the IET and the IMECHE I was invited to deliver my thoughts on the scheme at the 10th Anniversary of the Science Learning Network at the House of Commons, on 3 February 2015. The event was hosted by Graham Stuart, Chair of the Commons Education Select Committee… image To give you some background to how important, I believe, schemes like the Teacher Industrial Partners’ Scheme are: • I recently surveyed just over 100 stem teachers regarding their views on education and the skills required for industry. • 96% of those teachers, felt that the New National Curriculum alone does not adequately covers the skills required for industry • 73% of these teachers do not feel adequately equipped to teach their students about current developments in industry If you add those two statements together, we, as teachers clearly recognise that we need to provide some extracurricular STEM experiences to equip our students for work in the UK industry yet many of us admit to knowing very little about current industry practices. The Teacher Industrial Partners’ Scheme is most certainly one of the solutions to this problem. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I signed up to the pilot scheme but the 10 days, that I spent at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, quite simply blew all my preconceived ideas about the uk manufacturing industry right out of the water…. I’m ashamed, now, to admit that if a student had come to me, proposing that they have a career in manufacturing, and why would they as it’s not a career pathway we actively promote? I would have done my up most to dissuade them and would have probably tried to get them thinking about something that is far more exciting. After all why would anyone want to so spend their days on a dirty factory floor, doing the same mundane task over and over… I don’t know where I acquired that mental image from but it was there and in reality it’s probably there in the imagination of many other teachers too, if they’ve thought about it all. If industry partners need us, as teachers, to persuade our youngsters into their jobs, then they need to tackle these misconceptions that teachers hold. So what did I do on my industry placement? I spent ten days with ten different departments from the engineers, the theoretical physicists to the caterers, to the marketing team to the premises officer to the engineering technicians – what an experience! To give you a flavour of the dichotomy between my preconceptions and the reality – I was told on one particular day that I would be spending the day with the welders…..I can’t even begin to tell you how totally underwhelmed I was by that prospect, it was going to be a VERY long day! Or so I thought. The reality was that I got to weld titanium with the world’s largest non military laser, I witnessed the fireworks and explosions of rotary friction welding, I learnt about the application of additive manufacturing and 3d printing with metals in the biomedical, aeronautical and automotive industries…..it was quite simply stunning. And something that I want my students to be aware of, and to experience. Whilst participating in this scheme, I developed an afterschool engineering course for our year 8 and 9 pupils whereby they would eventually qualify as members of the institute of secondary engineers. With the help of local engineering companies and our new industry partner we provided them with a 12 week immersion into the potential of life as an engineer. I am incredibly impressed by their achievements and to be so well-informed before they consider their GCSE option choices is something that, as a school we are very proud of. The scheme has allowed us to explore the possibility of developing long-term links with our industry partner and we are currently in talks with them about future opportunities. But this scheme wasn’t about seeing what an engineer does it was about seeing what careers anyone can do in the engineering and manufacturing sector – an area of rapid growth and development that needs to attract our youngsters. Bridging that gap between industry and students are the teachers, woefully ignorant of the excitement that such a career pathway could provide. I would suggest, therefore, that there should be a commitment, to ensure that every secondary school has the option to develop an industry partner. Industry members need to accept the challenge …and perhaps more importantly, it requires us as teachers to be brave, to step outside the classroom …to acknowledge that we, as professionals, know when and where they learn best, and we need to get on and start inspiring our students, working with industry partners, taking up schemes like those provided by the National STEM centre and giving our students the skills they need to survive in the UK work place. By necessity, A large percentage of our time is spent teaching students how to pass an exam, a larger percentage should be spent teaching them the skills they need to support the growth of the UK manufacturing industry –– If we are given the freedom to do so, (and there’s an issue for further debate) then participating in schemes such as the Teacher Industrial Partners scheme will surely give us the confidence to develop a sensible balance between those two very different lessons. Jo Cox, Senior Leader STEM Redmoor Academy.

If you are interested in taking part in the TIPS scheme, please click the link below:
https://www.sciencelearningcentres.org.uk/consortia/national/teacher-industrial-partners-scheme/

An update: ENGAGE- ENJOY- ENGINEER: INSPIRING THE NEXT GENERATION

Further to the post on Sept 13th (ENGAGE- ENJOY- ENGINEER: INSPIRING THE NEXT GENERATION) I thought I’d provide an update to let you all know how we had got on; I think, in short, this photo says it all:

image

Yes…at the end of December we found out that they had all been accepted as members of the Institution of Secondary Engineers and seeing them receiving their certificates has to be one of those proud “THIS is why I do it ” teacher moments. As Ian Harcombe (one of the other teachers supporting the course) put it “we did that” ….absolutely; It says it all!

You might be wondering how it all panned out in the end, and I genuinely hope other schools do get in touch and consider delivering a similar course – the response from pupils, parents, engineers, STEM leaders has been unanimously positive.

“I believe that anything that can inspire, or grow, a passion for science and engineering in the younger generations is worthwhile, Redmoor Academy has definitely achieved this with their engineering club…these types of opportunities can make a huge impact. The Redmoor club gave the students an opportunity to work on something they felt passionate about, whilst also getting first-hand experience outside of the classroom, this must have a huge positive impact on these students.” Supporting engineer
The students were fully immersed into the engineering world with talks and workshops from visiting engineers, trips out and engineering challenges. They were able to work with design engineers, nuclear engineers, biomedical engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and humanitarian engineers to name just a few.

One of the highlights of their course was being able to pose on the Triumph motorcycles bought into school by the Triumph team…especially when they were told how many blockbuster films these locally made motorbikes had appeared in. They designed new sanitation systems for underdeveloped countries and took part in a Dragons Den style pitch of biomedical devices that they had to design themselves. Over the course of the 12 weeks, students worked on individual engineering project plans and engineering challenges; They learnt how jelly fish can affect nuclear power plants and how Antarctic engineers survive in sub-zero conditions; their enthusiasm was infectious and visiting engineers were bowled over by their increasing expertise and dedication.

image

What became apparent was that the girls were regularly winning the weekly challenges due to their thoughtful teamwork and planning – simply proves the point that engineering is most definitely a career equally suited to girls and boys.

It has been a huge learning curve running this course and the students are not the only ones whose knowledge of engineering has improved. The Teacher Industrial Partner Scheme (TIPS) organised by the IMECHE, the IET and the National STEM Centre, was invaluable in giving me the confidence, knowledge, and contacts to support this programme and is something I would definitely recommend to all teachers who are delivering engineering experiences or careers advice to their students. More information about the scheme can be found here: https://www.sciencelearningcentres.org.uk/consortia/national/teacher-industrial-partners-scheme/

The support from Susan Scurlock at Primary Engineers has been instrumental to the success of this course as we work towards developing the schools affiliation with the Institute of Secondary Engineers; To be made an honourary member was a huge surprise. Hopefully we will be developing our relationship further this term….more to follow!

The time given up by individual engineers was very much appreciated and special thanks should go to Gillian Hunter at Lati for persuading her members to get involved; to Judith Payne at LEBC for sourcing STEMNET Ambassadors and to Neil Portus from Caterpillar who attended each week to provide invaluable support to the students.

So what next? The 28 young engineers are proudly wearing their membership badges on their blazers and regularly emailing staff with the letters M.ISecEng after their names. It is hoped that they will be instrumental in mentoring the next cohort of engineering students and, fingers crossed, a significant number of the year 9 students will opt to move onto the Principles of Engineering and Engineering Business course that we are hoping to deliver in September, to our year 10 students.

Some more comments from our supporting engineers are listed below:

“The kids at Redmoor Academy were fantastic. After a brief introduction to biomedical engineering we had them designing medical devices of the future, which they then sketched up and presented in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ scenario. After hearing about everything else the kids had been up to in the previous weeks, I wish such an after school club was available at my secondary school! The session was really well organised by the school staff and I look forward to visiting again in the future.”

If the goal of the Engage Enjoy Engineer course has been to engage pupils in STEM subjects whilst demonstrating how Engineering can be fun, then it has clearly been a huge success. It’s both refreshing and rewarding to see such enthusiasm for Engineering topics; We often hear about the skill shortage and the lack of professional Engineers in the UK, in my opinion it’s courses like Engage Enjoy Engineer that will help to address this problem by inspiring students to consider Engineering at an earlier age. Being able to give students an Engineering accreditation at such a young age is a great incentive for them to continue with STEM activities, and I would be very surprised if it didn’t lead to an increased take up of STEM subjects at GCSE and A Level, and also higher numbers of applications for apprenticeship schemes.”

This opportunity was very worthwhile in terms of introducing a certain aspect of Humanitarian Engineering. There is definitely an advantage having a lovely, equipped school environment, a very well organised and thought-provoking programme and a bunch of intelligent and enthusiastic young people. Hopefully, the students are now not only more aware of the different fields of engineering but are also slightly more humanitarian balanced as well.”

Jo Cox HISecEng (☺️) Senior Leader STEM Redmoor Academy