Blogs tagged as STEM

  • 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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  • Women in Engineering Beat the Flood!

    Beat the Flood challenge, women in Engineering day8  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

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  • Inspiring pupils into STEM careers at the Big Bang Fair


    March 21st, 2016

    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.

    Tomorrow's Engineers Big Bang Fair 2016

    Pupils at the Tomorrow’s Engineers stand at the Big Bang Fair 2016

    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!

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  • Practical Action’s science resources get the thumbs up from Oxfam


    February 8th, 2016

    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.Capture

    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.

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  • Pumpkins Against Poverty in Schools

    As many schools in the UK celebrate Harvest and World Food Day on the 16th October, we’re delighted to launch Pumpkins Against Poverty, a resource packed with cross-curricular ideas for primary aged children.

    Based on Practical Action’s work in Disaster Risk Reduction and Agriculture in Bangladesh, the education materials enables students to learn about the life of Jui, a seven year old girl whose family and land have been affected by flooding.

    Capture Jui

     

     

     

     

     

    Content of the materials

    The main activities that follow encourage children to understand how the science and skills of growing pumpkins on land that was considered infertile has transformed the lives of families like Jui’s. The activities include:

    • Exploring the lifecycle of a pumpkin and germinating seeds
    • Learning about the nutritional and health benefits of eating pumpkins
    • Designing and making of seeds packets

    All of the materials including the PowerPoint, poster and activity sheets are freely available to download on Practical Action Schools website.

    Pumpkins Against Poverty poster

    Pumpkins Against Poverty poster

    We hope you enjoy! Please let us know if you use the materials or would like a free A2 poster to support the challenge.

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  • New Plastics STEM Challenge…launched at the Big Bang Fair

     

    When I met with a group of D&T and Science teachers in the UK last year to explore which of Practical Action’s international projects would form the basis for our new STEM challenge…we were unanimous that our work in Nepal with waste collecting communities would make a great context for exploring some ‘big’ global issues with students.

    In Kathmandu, Nepal, poverty forces thousands of people, including children to make a living from collecting rubbish from the streets and/or sorting through that rubbish at waste tips to re-sell plastics, metals, etc. for reuse or recycling.

    24410

    Practical Action is working with these communities to enable access to safety equipment, and helping to provide education for children and adults, including business and enterprise training to help waste workers start or improve their own business.

     

     

     

    Plastics Challenge

    The new Plastics Challenge introduces students to the Nepalese context with a photograph based activity, highlighting the impact of waste materials on people and the environment both Nepal and the UK.

    The follow-on activities within the challenge raise students’ awareness that while people in Nepal are viewing waste materials as something of value, despite the availability of systems and technology to reprocess waste materials in the UK, huge amounts are still entering landfill causing huge environmental concerns for future generations.

    Every year in the UK alone, we produce 5million tonnes of plastic…75% of it end up in landfill.

    The investigative activities within the challenge enable students to explore a range of issues including the impacts of plastics throughout their life cycle, the efficacy of recycling and making and exploring the characteristics of bio plastics versus oil based.

    pc_web-images-pupilFollowing these activities, students are challenged to use their STEM and enterprise skills to develop ideas for solutions to some of the big impacts of plastics.

    The inspirational students and teachers in schools who’ve helped us trial the challenge have developed a fabulous range of ideas, including making products from bio plastics through to developing products from waste plastics to sell for enterprise.

    Launch of the challenge

    Bren 1 Facebook

    The students and teachers from Myton School and Redmoor Academy helped to launch the Plastics Challenge at the Big Bang event at the NEC last week.

    So now it’s there on our website for you all to use!

    practicalaction.org/plastics-challenge

    We hope will enjoy the challenge.

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Looking for activities for Gifted and Talented pupils?


    October 11th, 2013

    If so, there are a lot of Gifted and Talended co-ordinators who would say you should try our STEM challenges.

    Yesterday my colleague Bren and I exhibited at the Optimus Education Gifted and Talented conference at the Oval in London #gifted13.  This was a new experience for us so we weren’t quite sure what to expect.

    Optimus Gifted and Talented conference 2013

    We were delighted that so many of the 300 teachers who attended came along to our stand to find out what we had to offer…and how  impressed they were with what they found:-)  They recognised that our challenges enable pupils to really stretch themselves and demonstrate what they are capable of in a global context that is likely to be new to them.

    Some teachers had already heard of our work through the grapevine.
    One teacher said I heard someone say they had done tPractical Action at the Optimus Gifted and Talented conference 2013 he squashed tomato challenge and it was phenomenal!’  Others came across us for the first time.  This included one teacher who like us had travelled down from Rugby!  Our Beat the Flood challenge and competition was a real hit, with teachers liking the hands on, enquiry aspect of the challenge as well as the idea of potentially winning £250 for their school. We are looking forward to seeing those competition entries come flooding in (groan!).

    One thing we both noticed was how at this conference many teachers were not just thinking about working with small groups of pupils but how they could use our challenges for a whole year group; as the basis for a transition day, or as a  whole school activity.   One teacher said to me:

    ‘ Beat the Flood  will be perfect for a whole school activity day we are having in three weeks time.  I can’t thank you enough…  you have just saved me sooooooo much work!

    As always teachers were impressed with the quality of material we produced, and amazed that it is freely available.  In turn we were impressed with the enthusiasm and passion shown by  teachers to improve the experiences of pupils in their schools.

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