Having a new STEM challenge to promote is always such a great feeling!
STEM challenges are our most popular materials. Teachers tell us time and time again how they love them not just because they inspire their pupils, but because the support materials are so comprehensive their prep time is reduced to a minimum
Stop the Spread is our brand new STEM challenge for 7-16 years. Highlighting the global issue of infectious diseases pupils design, build and test a model of a hand washing device and produce educational materials for children in Kenya to encourage hand washing.
Free materials to support the delivery of the challenge include teacher guidelines, a student pack, PowerPoint, certificates and a poster.
Stop the Spread is accredited for the British Science Association CREST Discovery Award and can used to enter the Youth Grand Challenges competitions. It has strong links to the Global Goals for sustainable development.
Perfect for British Science Week #BSW2017, STEM and science clubs, transition and off-timetable days as well as embedding into the school curriculum.
Elaine Manton, STEM Co-ordinator from Loreto Grammar School said
‘‘We have just incorporated Stop the Spread into our KS3 curriculum and are not only using it for our Year 8 assessment but also for our Student Leaders Awards.”
I want to spread the word about a really great initiative from WISE ( Women In Science and Engineering) which was launched today at CE Technologies in Slough. Working through volunteers around the country People Like me focuses on helping girls aged 11-14 realise that the aptitude and skills they have are needed for careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), careers that girls in particular do not always believe they are suited too.
The scale of the problem was highlighted by Helen Wollaston, WISE CEO, who pointed out that only 7% of girls go onto STEM careers after level 4, compared to 24% of boys* Jacqueline do Rojas, managing director of UKI, Sage and President, techUK pointed out that often the ‘T’ in STEM got ignored, but in fact ‘every business has a digital heartbeat’ ( I really liked that!) and that Tech jobs are growing at a rate of 10x more than any other sector.
The message was clear, for our businesses to be successful we need to make the most of our talent pool, which of course includes girls. According to Prof. Averil Macdonald we will attract girls to apply for jobs in the sector if we can help them firstly realise that they can do it and secondly that they will fit it. This was backed up by Paul Briault from CA Technologies who reinforced that what businesses need is a culture of recognising that teams work best when they are ‘happy and diverse and play to people’s strengths’. A culture where women will feel comfortable and have the opportunity to thrive.
At Practical Action we are also aware of the importance of more girls going into STEM, to become the scientists and engineers of the future that can help solve the big global challenges ahead. We are delighted at feedback from teachers and pupils which tells us that girls in particular love our resources as they highlight the social impact of science and technology. See the video below which shows 90 girls from 8 schools in Birmingham taking part in our Beat the Flood STEM challenge. We are also partners in an EU funded project called Girls Into Global STEM (GIGS), which aims to engage more girls in STEM by getting them involved in creating and taking part in global STEM challenges and developing their digital skills in the process. We are at the beginning of the project but watch this space for more information.
If you and/or your organisation are interested in finding out more about the campaign and helping WISE reach their target of reaching 200,000 girls in the next two years please go to https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/about-us/wise-projects/people-like-me. If you are a teacher and want to find out how to get girls in your school involved click the same link!
* More details can be found in the report at https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/resources/2016/11/from-classroom-to-boardroom-the-stem-pipelineNo Comments » | Add your comment
A few months ago we asked teachers and educators to take part in an online survey. We particularly wanted to find out about how they used our schools materials but also a bit about how they found out about us in the first place and if they liked our materials how they promoted them to others. We did a similar survey in 2012 so were also interested in any changes that had occurred. 383 people took part.
Some of the more interesting bits from our point of view are summarised in the infographic.
What we are most proud of…once they know we exist over half of teachers visit our website every 2-3 months, and 93% recommend our resources to others
What surprised us the most…since 2012 there has not been an increase in the number of teachers and educators who use social media as a tool to gather and share information?
What has made us think…Over 45% said they found out about us at local events such as Teachmeets where teachers meet to share ideas and good practice. We do a lot of promotion ourselves (social media, newsletters, articles etc.) but clearly teachers and educators are very successful advocates for us.
What we changed as a result…We estimate the number of pupils we reach, and the targets we set ourselves based on an extrapolation of downloads. This survey enabled us to do that more accurately and we have adjusted our calculations accordingly.
What was an unexpected outcome of doing the survey?…10% of people who took part in the survey hadn’t heard of us before they did, so just running the survey enabled us to reach more lovely teachers!1 Comment » | Add your comment
I am thrilled to be able to say that having received some EC funding from Erasmus Plus UK we are now able to get started on a new project called ‘ Girls into Global STEM’. The project aims to
increase the number of young Europeans, especially girls, who choose to take STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects at school and ultimately go on to careers in STEM. It will take place in UK, Poland, Cyprus and Sweden and the materials form the project will be available to other countries too.
Ok, so how are we going to do this? Well, from previous experience we know young people especially girls, are motivated by the role STEM can play in improving people’s lives around the world. So we are going to start by raising awareness of some of the global challenges we all face and then help young people discover for themselves how ‘STEM’ has the potential to provide solutions.
The project will involve:
- Young people and their teachers working with us to develop four Global STEM challenges which draw on the need for a certain level of digital literacy and can be used as stand-alone resources by other teachers and pupils
- A teacher toolkit to include the global STEM challenges and other material which will support teachers including curriculum mapping of the challenges, videos and guidance notes.
- A teacher training programme which will be both face to face and on-line as well as for pre-service and in-service teachers
- Academic papers and their delivery at key events to share the project materials and the learning from the project as widely as possible.
We are really excited about getting started and working with some new partners as well as some partners we worked with on our previous Make the Link project. The project will be led by the University of Hull. As well as ourselves of course the other partners are the University of Boras (Sweden), CCE (Poland) CARDET(Cyprus) and one school in each country, in the UK this school will be The De Ferrers Academy
Let the fun/work begin!! #GIGS1 Comment » | Add your comment
8 schools, 90 girls, 15 volunteers from industry; loads of junk modelling material, water and a Practical Action STEM challenge …the perfect combination for a National Women in Engineering and the Build Environment Day event at Birmingham City University. #NWED2016
The girls had an engineering challenge…to build a model house strong enough to ‘Beat the Flood’. With support from women working in the engineering sector, they had two hours to research the needs of different communities on a fictitious island; test different structures and material, then design and build a model. The model was then tested outside Millennium Point by standing in water and having water poured on it!
Based on Practical Action’s work on flood proof housing in Bangladesh the girls found out all sorts of things about engineering, team work and some of the challenges faced by people in Bangladesh that they didn’t realise before.
‘Before today I didn’t know engineering could be about helping people in other countries’’
‘’I really like all working together…we didn’t know each other until today’’
‘’We had a plan, but then we didn’t have the materials we needed so we had to adjust our design.’’
‘That team over there copied our design!’
‘That doesn’t work, why we don’t try…’
‘I wish we could do more things like this is school’
‘How can we make the base more stable?’
The teachers and mentors were impressed with how well the girls worked together and some of the solutions they came up with. Everyone enjoyed testing the models outside!
For a set of materials to run this challenge in your school and for other STEM challenges please go to www.practicalaction.org/stemNo Comments » | Add your comment
I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Big Bang Fair last week . Young people from around the country were really engaged in finding out just what STEM was all about the potential STEM careers that they could go into.
One stand that particularly impressed me was the Tomorrow’s Engineers, where pupils had the opportunity to see how engineers are involved in both disaster risk reduction, and saving lives post disaster. A career in International Development may not be one that may particularly springs to mind when teachers/pupils think of STEM, but it is a path that many pupils find inspiring. It was great to see this organisation promoting the social side of engineering, which is something we have been told girls find appealing about our own support materials, particularly our STEM challenges.
It was also good to see so many of the CREST awards projects on display linked to sustainable and global issues such as energy saving devises and flood-proof buildings, and to hear the pupils speak so passionately about their project (even whilst munching crisps!!)
Well worth a visit so if you didn’t manage to take pupils there this year I would strongly recommend you look at it for 2017…hope to see you there!No Comments » | Add your comment
We were delighted to see what a high profile our schools resources have in the new ‘Science and Global Citizenship guide’ from Oxfam. Written in conjunction with the Association of Science Education (ASE) the new guide explains the benefits of a global citizenship approach to science and has practical ideas for implementing it in topics such as water, energy , climate change and ecosystems.
The guide contains reference to 10 of Practical Action’s science resources, some of which were written with the ASE as part of the DFID funded Global Learning programme. Old favourites like Moja Island are in there together with the more recent Global upd8s and Plastics challenge.
We would like to thank the Oxfam education team and the ASE for putting this together, and including our materials. We believe it is a useful guide for primary and secondary teachers in the UK.No Comments » | Add your comment
‘We invited experts on land fill into our school to talk to them about technology justice’
So said one student from Poland when asked what the action was they took following a science project they did in school. The project was inspired by their teacher who had been on a teacher training programme run in Poland by the NGO CEO as part of an EC project Practical Action is leading on called Make the Link. The teacher had used the materials provided as part of the training and given pupils aa starting point of looking at how science can be used to improve lives in the developing as well as the developed world. Students were encouraged to pursue their own interests and work on a project, a novel approach in Poland. They got very keen on biogas, loved our #techjustice marvellous microbes video
Projects varied from designing solar phone chargers to drying herbs and building a wind turbine. Pupils had clearly got really engaged with the project, had taken ownership of it and at the same time learnt a lot about the lives of others. One teachers said ‘ I like that the students really understood the problem. We saw compassion, empathy, and a side of character of pupils we wouldn’t normally see.’ This was echoed by another teachers who said, ‘ I think students really changed their approach, we noticed a difference in their way of thinking…that science is about real people’.
Teachers really felt that the global approach was a huge benefit in helping pupils make connections between their own actions and what happens in the developing world.
‘Raising global awareness makes students realise some complicated interdependences and know that what we do here has impact on other people in developing countries’
When asked what feeling they had during the project the students said things like:
‘We were surprised in the beginning that our lives are so different to people in Africa. By doing this project we not only learnt how to make solar power but found out what life is like in another place’. Hubert (15 year old boy)
‘We were surprised that some people don’t have basic things like toilets. We complain a lot about a lot of things but really we don’t have a lot to complain about. It has made us want to find solutions’ Justyna (14 year old girl)
The students had all come together to share their projects with each other. First at a small gathering organised by our Polish partners CEO to gain information for a publication on good practice, then to attend a much bigger event where over 200 schools in Poland set up stands to share their work with pupils , teachers and people from industry.
The ‘killer’ quote for me that showed the real impact of the great work in Poland was from Patryja, 15. When an evaluator asked him ‘what does technology justice mean to you?, he replied:
‘Technology justice means that in other countries people don’t have the technology we have that they still need. This made us ask…why? It bothered us as in our opinion is not fair. The conclusion was that we respect more what we have, and want to try and help others get what they need.’
If that doesn’t demonstrate the impact of our work on the future generation I don’t know what does!!
To view materials ( but in English) that inspired these students go to www.practicalaction.org/schoolsNo Comments » | Add your comment
I am very proud to be able to say that our Beat the Flood challenge recently won an award for the Best STEM resource for pupils, from the European organisation Scientix. As a result it will be translated into all 24 European languages. In addition we recently went to an event in Brussels and presented to over 50 head teachers from around Europe.
To find more great science resources from other European organisations, and opportunities to network with science teachers across Europe take a look at the Scientix website.
All around the UK are villages and towns with community centres, but just imagine how valued that community centre would be if it was not just a community centre but also a school, and a place of safety. The Multi-purpose Community Centre and School in Saghata, Giabandha, is one such place.
Most of the time the building is used as a school and this is what it was being used for when I visited it. The place was full of incredibly well-behaved, delightful children from 5-18 years old. When I walked into a classroom they all got up to say good morning to me, and were clearly very proud of their ability to speak English, and to recite traditional English rhymes.‘Early to bed , early to rise makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise’ was a firm favourite. Several of the children were able to tell me a little bit about their lives. Playing football is obviously a popular pastime in Bangladesh!
BUT…this is a school with a difference, if you look closely at the buildings you will see they are all raised from the ground on plinths and made of brick. This is a flood-proof school. When the floods do arrive however it stops becoming a school and is a place of safety for the local community. The classrooms become places where people and animals can stay until the flood subsides. This Centre was clearly the hub of the community and is making a big difference to the lives of the people who live there irrespective of flooding.No Comments » | Add your comment