Blogs tagged as STEM

  • Global Project Ideas


    September 29th, 2017

    Personally I don’t think there could be a better way of engaging young people with issues around poverty than giving them the opportunity to explore potential solutions themselves.

    If you agree then you will be pleased to know we have some new resources to help student do exactly that!!   Our Global Project ideas provide inspiring starting point for projects, with a focus on how STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)  skills can help us achieve the Global Goals, or sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

    The materials are perfect for the CREST award scheme and can also be used as the basis of an extended project, or for the skills element of the Duke of Edinburgh award. They can also lead to great projects to be entered into the Big Bang Fair competition.

    We selected 5 global goals we feel have a particular STEM focus.

    Global Goal 2 – Zero HungerGlobal Project Ideas from Practical Action

    Global Goal 5 – Gender Equality

    Global Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation

    Global Goal 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy

    Global Goals 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities

    The Global Project Ideas sheets material provide suggestions for starting points for projects plus also really useful weblinks to help  pupils with their research.

    To find out more about the Global Goals themselves go to either the main UN site or a more schools focused site

    To see how you can get engaged in the CREST awards scheme go to the CREST area of our website

    If you do use these with your pupils please do let us know…we love feedback!

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  • Inspiring girls on International Women in Engineering Day


    July 7th, 2017
    Lauren Padmore, STEM Ambassador, BWB Consulting

    Lauren Padmore, STEM Ambassador, BWB Consulting

    What a great initiative Women in Engineering Day is! Currently only 19% of engineering graduates are girls, so we are potentially missing out on a lot of talent. There are many reasons why that may be the case, but one thing is for sure, time and time again we are told that if you give girls good role models, and show them how engineering can be used to solve real problems faced by real people they are more inspired to go on to an engineering degree.

    Women in Engineering Day gives organisations like the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Build Environment at Birmingham City University the chance to do just that.

    They held an event in June 2017 where 80 students from 8 different schools got together with mentors from industry, many of whom were STEM Ambassadors,  and had the opportunity to find out about a number of different engineering careers young female engineers enjoy, plus try out being an engineer themselves by taking part in our very own Stop the Spread challenge, based on Practical Action’s work on Urban Water and Sanitation programmes in Kenya.

    The day clearly had an impact on the girls who were there, both in terms of their own belief in what they can achieve and what options are out there.

    ‘People underestimate what girls can do. After today I think that if we believe in something we should just, like, go for it’

    ‘Before, when I thought of engineering I only thought about mechanical, but now I know there are lot of different types and opportunities like biomedical.’

    As part of the Stop the Spread challenge the girls had two related tasks

    • Design and build a model of a hand washing device for a primary school in Kenya
    • Produce education materials that will encourage children in the school to wash their hands

    Stop the Spread challengeBoth tasks were presented to the rest of the students and the judges. The range of different designs was really impressive, as were the education materials which included songs, plays and posters.

    I was particularly pleased that the design task really brought out a deep level of thinking of around the importance of considering how and where a product will be used; how to factor in relevant scientific knowledge, then incorporating all that into the design. Great STEM skills.

    ’I’ve learnt that the environment is different in different places so you need to think about that when you design something. So in Kenya water will evaporate really quickly so you need to find a solution to stop it from evaporating’’

    Hanna, Langley School

    My favourite quote of the day however has to be this one,

    ‘Today I have learnt that I am more creative than I think I am’   …Go girl!!

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  • Why aren’t more girls in Europe studying STEM? What can we do to change this?


    June 19th, 2017

    That was the subject of a huge Pan-European research project conducted by Microsoft and the subject of a recent webinar they held.

    As someone who is passionate about encouraging more girls into STEM and reducing the inequality around STEM in the workplace I was also interested to see if there were any insights that I could incorporate into my own work. I work within a team that produces free STEM resources for girls and boys in schools, and runs a teacher training programme.

    11,500 girls aged 11-30 from 10 different countries including the UK took part, the top insights are below.

    Interesting isn’t it? Good for us to see that ‘girls crave creativity and hands on experience’. Our STEM challenges in particular give them the opportunity to do that, so according to the research will help convert their interest into a passion…so we’re on the right track!

    The report also stated that the closer work around STEM was to real life the more helpful it was for girls. They really like to understand how STEM can be applied. This backs up something else I heard at a presentation from Raspberry Pi…that in the main boys like tech for tech’s sake, whereas girls like it as a tool to achieve something.  Again this support how our STEM challenges and other materials that focus on real life applications of STEM in the developing world.

    Other points that got my interest were that the teachers were actually more influential than parents, and it didn’t matter if that teacher was male or female. Mentors also hugely influential, which support the UK STEM Ambassadors programme.  One slightly quirky finding was that whilst for some girls approval of peers to go into STEM was important, others quite liked that it was seen as a bit unusual, it was that that attracted them! A breakdown of the most important factors can be seen below.

    At Practical Action we will continue to work with partners to ensure our materials are inspiring to girls as well as boys.

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  • GIGS – Inspiring girls and boys into STEM through Erasmus+


    Poland, Dalików | June 8th, 2017

    ”To begin with one of the girls we were working with wasn’t interested in coding or drones; but when she saw how they could be used to help people by transporting water she became really interested.”

    Students from Poland presenting their global STEM challenge GIGS project, Warsaw 2017

    Students presenting their STEM challenge

    So said Sabrin, a year 11 girl from The de Ferrers Academy when she was feeding back on her experience of working with a year 8 class in her school as part of our EU funded project, ‘ Girls into Global STEM’ (GIGS). Working with other pupils in her year Sabrina had devised a global STEM challenge for younger pupils in the school. Sabrina’s experience showed that she and her classmates had achieved exactly what we hoped our project overall would achieve…inspiring girls in STEM through global issues. The idea that girls in particular are motivated by working in real world context formed the basis of our project and it is fantastic to see some evidence of that already appearing from our project.

     

    Who is responsible for making the global goals happen? GIGS student conference warsaw 2017

    Who is responsible for the Global Goals?

    At a presentation by Raspberry Pi on their digital making curriculum they quoted a study that found that generally whilst boys are interested in technology for technology’s sake girls are more motivated in how technology can be used as a tool to solve a problem. Over the last few years we have had anecdotal feedback that said the same thing and helps explain why girls in particular love our exiting STEM challenges. We believe our project, which includes pupils, teachers, NGOs and Universities from Cyprus, Poland Sweden and U.K. will continue to demonstrate that working on these problem solving challenges based on global issues such as climate change, food security and access to clean water and energy can inspire girls in particular to engage with STEM.

    If our recent student conference in Poland was anything to go by there will be a lot of highly motivated girls and boys in Europe keen to use STEM to help solve global issues and help us achieve the global goals.

    Students, teachers and partners at the GIGS student conference in Warsaw June 2017

    Students, teachers and partners at the GIGS student conference in Warsaw June 2017

     

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  • STEM Matters …our revamped Practical Action schools newsletter

    We asked you what you wanted to call our newly revamped newsletter…and you told us!!

    Over 200 of you took part in our poll and chose STEM Matters as the name for our newsletter. Thank you to everyone who took part, including those who came up with their own wacky ideas ‘ STEM-Y McSTEMFACE’ from science TV presenter Dallas Campbell was my favourite!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Our new, more compact style newsletter now comes out once every half term. Signing up to our newsletter means you will be kept in touch with any new materials on our website , conferences we are going to, and a few other bits and bobs related to STEM and/or global issues we think you will be interested in.

    Please do sign up to our newsletter if you haven’t already.

    You can also read our first ever STEM Matters newsletter, out today which includes links to documents which show where our materials fit the science curricula in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

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  • STEM conference on Practical Action projects

    Isn’t it just great when a plan comes together and gives you that warm fuzzy feeling?

    Well I got that fuzzy feeling when tweets started appearing in my twitter feed all about a STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)  conference organised by Pevensey and Westham CE Primary school in Eastbourne.

    Pupils at STEM conference Eastbourne120 students from 11 different schools got together to share work they had been doing on global challenges, inspired by Practical Action projects around the world and using Practical Action’s STEM challenges as a basis for their own work. Students presented their projects which included aerial ropeways to transport tomatoes; wind turbines; hand washing devices and flood resistant houses.

    The conference had come about on the back of some training we had delivered in Eastbourne organised by Marcus Cherrill, Director of I Can teach Ltd, who had approached us having discovered our materials on line (so all that work on SEO paid off!!). Marcus got in touch with us and said he would like us to deliver training to teachers in Eastbourne around our STEM challenges in preparation for the pupil conference.

    Tweet from I can teach ltdIt was great to see that the training really paid off and the teachers’ enthusiasm about our materials clearly transferred to the pupils when they took them back to the classroom. Pupils were inspired by Practical Action’s work and keen to develop models of their own solutions to global poverty. They had obviously put a lot of thought and work into their presentation and one of the teams even had t-shirts printed with their group name on!  The local press were there too so the conference got good coverage in the Eastbourne Herald.

     

    A huge well done to all the students who took part, we hope you go on to be the scientists and engineers of the future that we need to help us alleviate poverty and solve some of the huge global challenges we are currently facing.

    Eastbourne Herald - STEM conference

     

     

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  • A new STEM challenge – Stop the Spread


    April 21st, 2017

    Stop the Spread STEM poster Practical Action 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.”

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  • STEM careers in International Development


    March 15th, 2017

    STEM careers poster Practical ActionDo you have students who are interested in the big global challenges we are facing? Do they  want to help find the solution to climate change and having enough food for everyone on the planet? If so a career in International Development could be for them.

    My STEM(Science, Technology , engineering and Maths) job at  Practical Action,  is to produce education materials to help students discover how STEM can be used to reduce poverty around the world. Other people I work with have great jobs such as helping people get access to electricity, sharing information about the best materials to use to make a house flood-proof, working with communities to install solar powered water pumps, helping farmers breed salt-resistant crops… they are the scientists and engineers. Then there are people who do jobs you might not think of that are really important to the backbone of our organisation , like working in finance. They also get to travel around the world and see the great work our organisation is doing.

    To raise awareness of the great opportunities a STEM career in international development can bring  we have a lovely free poster you can request and a number of case studies free to download at www.practicalaction.org/careers .  They would make a great display 🙂

     

    STEM careers poster Practical Action

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  • STEM is for Girls – People like me


    Slough, UK, Slough | February 1st, 2017

    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.

    Launch of People like me goes digital, WISE

    Launch of People like me goes digital, WISE

    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.

    STEM education pipeline

    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-pipeline

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  • Smoky Homes offers an inspiring real-life context for the primary STEM curriculum


    November 30th, 2016

    If you were to ask a class of pupils ‘What takes more lives every year than malaria, AIDS and TB added together?’

    What do you think their answer would be? I’m guessing it’s unlikely to be household smoke. Yet every year this hidden killer takes the lives of over 4 million people, mainly children and women.

    Globally, more than three billion people burn wood, coal and other biomass as their only way to cook, boil water and heat their homes on basic stoves or three stone fires. The lethal fumes that are produced from these methods is the same as burning 400 cigarettes an hour.

    Through the Smoky Homes education materials pupils can learn about this global problem and attempt to address the question – How can we reduce the smoke produced and get it out of people’s home?

    Smoky Homes

    Find out more about us in Smoky Homes

    The Smoky Home starter activity introduces through the lives of two sisters living in Nepal whose family cook on an open fire. They have their own ideas on how they would like something better to stop them becoming poorly and their house dirty from the smoke.

    Through a set of science and technology investigation and research activities, young people can start to develop their own ideas and model solutions to address the problem. Some pupils might develop models of fuel-efficient stoves while others develop chimneys or stove hoods. Either way Smoky Homes offers a real-life problem and genuine opportunities for pupils to explore how simple solution can transform lives.

    At the end of their project, pupils have the chance to see some of the inspirational solutions that Practical Action are working on in Nepal.

    All the materials and activities for Smoky Homes are free to download.

    Enjoy!

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