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  • Inspiration teachers – Think Global Educator of the Year Award #GEYA2017


    July 21st, 2017

    This year, in my role as a trustee I was privileged to attend Think Global’s Global Educator of the Year Award celebration event. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day to be on a roof terrace next to The Oval.

    Four really amazing teachers, this year’s finalists, came together with friends, families and guests to share what they had been doing to encourage young people to find out about the UN Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals and what action they could take to help achieve them.

    The teachers had all worked in different ways, but what came across load and clear was their commitment to helping pupils understand how achieving the Global Goals are relevant to the whole world, UK included, and what action they could take as a result.

    Think Global Educator of the Year Award 2017 #GEYA2107

    Nathan Atkinson, Lottie O’Brian, Jane Yates ( winner) , Elena Longthorne ( winner 2016) Andrew Christie

    The winner, Jane Yates from Armathwaite Primary School has embedded global learning throughout the curriculum at her school, and inspired and encouraged students to be active citizens and critical thinkers. She also took the lead in developing awareness of the Global Goals through the schools 23 Global Learning Programme (GLP) partner schools, and other GLP expert centres across the country.

    Nathan Aktinson, Head of Richmond Hill Primary School in Leeds set up the incredible Fuel for Schools project which now runs in 60 primary schools around Leeds. Lottie O’Brien, Head of Social Science at the Commonweal School created a new curriculum which threads global learning and in particular the Global Goals into teaching. Andrew Christie, Geography Coordinator at Whitehill Junior School leads the GLP network of 14 partner schools and has introduced a wide variety of projects linked to the Global Goals at his school.

    Paul Langley from Oxfam, one of the judges said:

    “The Global Educator of the Year award, and the work of Think Global, in inspiring, equipping and recognising the role teachers at the heart of global citizenship education is fantastic. Oxfam is delighted to be part of such an important event, congratulates all the finalists and looks forward to seeing what teachers will be doing in 2018!”

    If you know anyone who is doing great work in schools around global learning please contact Think Global and they will remind you when it’s time for next year’s nominations. We want to shout out about all the great work that is going on in schools around the UK.

    For activities round the Global Goals you could do with students please take a look at the materials on our website.

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  • Supporting pupils taking part in Eco-Schools


    July 17th, 2017

    If you are looking for a programme that is pupil led and encourages pupils to improve the sustainability of their school, community and the wider world, you really can’t get better than Eco-Schools.

    Pupils work on a number of topics in order to get an Eco-schools green flag, and amongst other things are required to show how the work they have done links to the curriculum.

    As an Eco-Schools assessor myself I very quickly saw how Practical Action’s resources could be used by pupils as part of the scheme. As well as being relevant to a number of topics such as Global Citizenship, Waste, Water, School Grounds and Healthy Living they would provide pupils with evidence of how the work they have done links to the science and D&T curriculum.

    So…I decided to make life easier for both teachers and pupils by pulling together all the relevant resources into a new area of our website. Feedback so far has been great, and we have had a surge of people looking at the new area of the site. Please do take a look, and if you know of any pupils using our material in this way please do get in touch, it will make my day!

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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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  • Students building nutrition smart communities


    June 28th, 2017

    Malnutrition is the most chronic health problems globally. According to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in Nepal around 39.9 per cent of national population consumes minimum calories than prescribed. Above 46 per cent children below the age of 5 suffer malnutrition and 45 per cent are underweight while 43 per cent have stunted growth. Of the various development regions in Nepal, the situation of malnutrition is rather worse in far-west where nearly 50 per cent people are consuming fewer calories than that of the prescribed level.

    School goers of far-west, Nepal

    Students, the change agents

    To tackle the problem of malnutrition, POSAN project has tried to build nutrition smart communities through School Led Nutrition System (SLNS) approach where school students are involved in different extra curriculum activities like art, quiz, debate, essay and drama competitions on nutrition theme. Such nutrition sensitive interventions help them understand importance of nutrition and also pass on the message to their families. Students can indeed be the vehicle of social transformation and students of this school in Bajura have proven that. Shree Nepal National Secondary School of Jadanga VDC in Bajura District is a great example of passing knowledge of nutrition to the communities through their students. The school hosts different nutrition themed activities every Friday. The students are learning the importance of homestead gardening, and how the nutritional values in vegetable can affect physical well being. They are also educating their families about the importance of nutrition, and supporting in homestead kitchen gardening. Their parents are more than happy to apply the new found knowledge into practice. In addition to the
    in-school competitions, the project has also envisaged school garden called “live laboratory”, to give practical knowledge to the students and teachers. About two-third schools have established school garden to give practical knowledge to their students. The extracurricular activities related to the nutrition and kitchen garden are well integrated in the calendar of their school.

    Art competition on homestead gardening at a school in Bajura

    Students are also major change agents of nutrition knowledge, attitude,

    behavior and practice to promote nutrition smart communities

    Extracurricular 

    Chakra Bahadur Shahi, has been teaching in the school for 7 years. He leads the Friday nutrition themed extracurricular activities, “We here try and do activities once every week on Fridays to increase student’s awareness on nutrition. These kids are not just enjoying extra activities; they are also partaking in vegetable gardening at home. After these sort of efforts, kids have been really interested in vegetable farming. The kids go on to share the information to their parents and neighbors.”

    Shahi said the school has started the activities since a year and a half now and the impact is huge. First of all, students are capacitated in different extracurricular activities through which they also acquire knowledge on importance of nutrition which is affected by consuming vegetables. The school has also been discouraging consumption of junk foods such as noodles towards which students seem highly attracted these days. Moreover, consumption of neglected food like millet, buckwheat, taro, among others is being promoted through school. One of the students who recently won an art competition on homestead gardening in the school, Manoj Kumar Khadka shares, “I came to know I cannot grow strong if I am not consuming enough nutrition. So I asked my parents to grow vegetables at home. We have taro, radish, cauliflower, and other veggies at home. They are all tasty and nutritious. I also help my parents in kitchen gardening.”

    Farm produces at homestead garden of a student in Bajura

    Learning by doing

    Although the students acquire nutrition and hygiene related theoretical knowledge through their course curriculum, that seems to be insufficient to bring practical knowledge and awareness. Previous researches have demonstrated school as a healthy role model for improved and smart eating where students are key players. Students are also major change agents of nutrition knowledge, attitude, behavior and practice to promote nutrition smart community. It has also been proven that that there is a positive reinforcing relationship between health and learning. Thus practical approaches like “learning by doing” and “doing by learning” have been helpful to influence students and their communities on value of nutrition. If such methods of disseminating knowledge are implemented across Nepal, it can generate about positive effect. The excitement in kids regarding vegetable farming is heightened by the culture of growing fresh vegetables back at home.

    Farm produces at kitchen garden of a student in Bajura

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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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