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.No Comments » | Add your comment
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.
120 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.
It 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.
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We are very proud to announce that our very own Bren Hellier, Education Officer for Practical Action was recently shortlisted for Think Global’s ‘Global Educator of the year’ award. We already know she is amazing but it was great to have this recognised by such a prestigious organisation which works with teachers and young people in the UK to help them develop their understanding of global issues and the action they can take towards a more just and sustainable world.
Jo Cox, Head of Science at Redmoor Academy who nominated Bren said:
“Having worked with Bren on a couple of occasions her passion for her work is inspiring and she clearly understands what teachers and pupils want from a resource. Teachers who use her material will like me tell you they are both creative and clear, taking pupils on a journey starting with engaging their interest in a global problem then really making them feel that through their own actions now and in the future they could be part of the solution. Her resources have inspired a significant number of my students to take an interest in humanitarian engineering. She is generous, committed and full of vitality and a genuine pleasure to work with – a truly inspirational global teacher!”
To find out more about Bren’s work and who else was shortlisted please go to Global Educator of the Year 2016
To see Bren’s work for yourself please do take a look at her latest fabulous Design for a Better World challenge. Produced to celebrate Practical Action’s 50th Anniversary it includes a competition for pupils aged 11-14. We are asking pupils for their most innovative designs that could help us achieve the Global Goals and will share 50 of these on our website.
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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/stem
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
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
…that was the only thing anyone in Giahbanda, Bangladesh asked of me the whole time I was there. The people I met in a range of communities were all more concerned about giving me things than the other way round…a chair to sit on, food, answers to any questions I might have. That is why the request from a lady called Rabea really touched me. Practical Action had worked with a community of 100 households to build a flood-proof village 5 years prior to my visit.
Rabea told me how the village made her feel secure as previously her home on the other side of the river had been washed away by flooding. There is still a problem though as the river bank is being eroded away at the rate of about 1 foot a year, so each year the river is getting closer to the village, threating their homes, a shop, and the community centre. Clearly there is still work to be done to help the community feel safe long term, and I can only hope that Practical Action or another NGO will do that.
The village is a great example of technology justice (#techjustice) in action through Practical Action’s Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) work. Just simple technologies were made accessible to the community to enable them to have a safe, flood-proof community. Firstly, the ground level where the village was going to be built was raised, then houses were built on concrete plinths. Lots of plants were planted around the house, to suck up water when it floods. The houses themselves are made of brick with corrugated iron roofs, so they are strong and waterproof, unlike the traditional straw house. Other technologies essential to life and therefore important in technology justice like water pumps, toilets and solar power were also installed. The lovely people who live here really do believe they are the lucky ones, as demonstrated in the warm welcome I received. In Bangladesh I felt especially proud to be able to say ‘My name is Julie Brown, I work for Practical Action’.
If you are interested in your pupils carrying out an activity around flood-proof housing please look at our Beat the Flood challengeNo Comments » | Add your comment
Since the current government announced its review of the National Curriculum for schools in England, it’s been a nail-biting time for the Design and Technology community.
At first, there was widespread uncertainty that the subject would exist in any shape or recognisable form…followed by drafts of the subject that presented concerns for many of us.
During the formal consultation period, Practical Action along with many other organisations submitted a response to the Department for Education (DfE).
This week the DfE has published the revised Design and Technology (D&T) programmes of study for KS1 to 3… and we’re delighted with it!
We believe that the new D&T curriculum will offer young people opportunities to learn about the role of technology to shape and impact on people and the environment and access to real–life contexts in essential areas such as Energy, Agriculture, Construction and Engineering.
Some highlights for us include:
Purpose of the subject ‘Through the evaluation of past and present design and technology, pupils develop a critical understanding of its impact on daily life and the wider world’
Key stage 3 ‘understand developments in design and technology, its impact on individuals, society and the environment, and the responsibilities of designers, engineers and technologists’
Thank you to all of you that helped to achieve this great outcome for young people in schools in England.
We are looking forward to supporting teachers to deliver on these new requirements.No Comments » | Add your comment
I recently attended an ASE Teachmeet at the Think Tank . It got me thinking, where else would you find out how to:
- find an interactive periodic table from the Royal Society of Chemistry
- Paint a huge diagram of a heart on a big sheet to use as a teaching aid
- make a small revision book out of a piece of paper http://bit.ly/ZfLQbo
- join a network that review research in education methodologies, @bio_joe
- run a floating garden challenge to teach science in a global context
- use ipads to provide interesting learning experiences @syded06
- connect with STEM ambassadors
- Get support on teaching microbiology using UV light
…all in a couple of hours?
Teachmeets are great, informal occasion where you can meet like-minded enthusiastic teachers and pick up great ideas to integrate into your teaching . You also get a nice up of tea and chocolate biscuits :-). They occur in 12 different regions around the country. To find the one closest to you go the ASE website or contact your local ASE field officer. For the West Midlands Teachmeet contact Gaynor Sharp email@example.com .
Follow #tmase to keep in touch 🙂
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