Extension Training for STEM Ambassadors

STEM Ambassador Extension Training was developed by Graphic Science to support STEM Ambassadors who wish to play a more active role in inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers. The sessions were interactive with an emphasis on delivery styles, engagement and practical activities. Each session was be led by experienced trainers from Graphic Science.

The training was designed to help STEM Ambassadors to:

  • increase their confidence in presenting in front of different audiences
  • develop their own STEM Ambassador activities and adapt them appropriately
  • share ideas and experiences with other STEM Ambassadors through informal mentoring

Teacher PDPs

Professional Development Placements for Teachers

Graphic Science runs a number of free, one-day, professional development placements (PDPs) for teachers from Bristol, Bath and Somerset.

The aim of the professional development placements is for teachers to broaden their knowledge of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) applications and careers.

Each day is hosted by a company working in the area of STEM and provides teachers with a chance to meet professionals from industry and see the environment in which they work. Teachers are then in a position to share this knowledge with their students back at school.

The PDPs are funded by The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) and the Institute for Education Business Excellence (IEBE) via their national ‘Shape the Future- STEPS at work’ programme.

We ran three placements in Bristol in the summer of 2012 (see details below). The next placement days were held in June/July 2013.

Summer 2012 PDPs

Science and Technology at The Bristol and Bath Science Park

The day was split between the Innovation Centre and the National Composite Centre at the Bristol and Bath Science Park.  Science and DT teachers found out about some of the research, development and manufacturing taking place at the site; through tours by scientists and engineers, learning about design challenges and scientific limitations and a chance to explore related classroom resources.

Life Sciences and Medical Physics at Bristol Royal Infirmary

Teachers attending the Professional Development Placement at the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI), spent the day finding out about life sciences and medical physics taking place at the hospital. The day included a tour of the hospital haematology labs, the chance to network with NHS professionals and some time to look at related classroom resources.

Palaeontology ‘The Bristol Dinosaur Project’ at Aust Cliff and the University of Bristol

The day was run by palaeontologists from the University of Bristol, School of Earth Sciences. Teachers started the day by fossil hunting at Aust Cliff, before visiting the University palaeontology labs and trying out some geology and evolution classroom activities.

Free placement days for teachers to update their knowledge of the latest STEM developments.

Engineering Everywhere Evaluation

An EPSRC funded project in collaboration with the Centre for Science Education at Sheffield Hallam University; the University of Glasgow and 4Science.

Engineering Everywhere consists of a suite of resources, including classroom activities and videos on a DVD, to support the teaching of physical science with reference to engineering, in an effort to enhance young people’s interest in engineering and science related careers.

Preconceived perceptions and poor understanding of engineers and engineering have led to a poor uptake of engineering courses by school leavers. The DVD introduces relevant engineering ideas and concepts to form an integral part of the assessed science curriculum.

We performed a rigorous and fully-embedded formative evaluation of ‘Engineering Everywhere’ to inform development of the resource. We ran a series of iterative focus group sessions over the course of two years with our ‘standing panels’ of year 10-12 students. We probed the students for their values, opinions and regular activities, as well as testing resources in various stages of development. Our feedback was integrated into the development of the project from the outset.

We later performed a summative evaluation of the project, using a combination of timed, structured observations; informal interviews; follow up teacher interviews and questionnaires.

TEMI Evaluation

TEMI – Teaching Enquiry with Mysteries Incorporated – is a four-year FP7 funded project involving 13 partners around Europe. The project is a CPD programme for teachers with accompanying resources designed to support enquiry based science learning through investigating mysteries.

Graphic Science is acting as the external evaluator for the project. Our role is both formative – monitoring the project as a whole, identifying risks and recommending mitigations – and summative – our final report looking at the successes and failures of the project as a whole will be submitted to the EC when the project is completed in July 2016.

You can follow the project’s progress through their website: teachingmysteries.eu/en or from @teachmysteries on Twitter

WT PE Leadership Programme

In 2014, Graphic Science was commissioned by the Wellcome Trust to run a 10 month long leadership programme in public engagement for heads of academic departments working across the Trust’s research remit.

Each participant has a small seed fund of £2,000 to spend on activities that embed and support a culture of public engagement in their department/institute.

We recruited 14 heads to take part.

The programme began with a one-day launch workshop at Brunel’s ssGreat Britain where participants heard a range of different perspectives from other academic heads who described their experiences of doing and supporting public engagement. Participants also spent some time thinking about their departments’ own public engagement and how they could develop this and make it more strategic.

We were also pleased to welcome special guest speaker Eliza Manningham-Buller, former Director General of MI5, who shared her views on and approaches to leadership.

The programme then continued with remote support and visits to each participant to discover more about their and their colleagues opportunities and aspirations for public engagement.

Approaches have included developing a public engagement strategy, creating an internal public engagement small grants scheme and running annual community-focussed public engagement events.

The programme will end with a finale event during Cheltenham Science Festival.

Review of BBSRC Public Dialogues

BBSRC has a long-standing commitment to using deliberative public dialogue to inform policies around their research. As part of this, they have been working with the dialogue experts Sciencewise to support dialogue processes for their research institutes.

So far, three BBSRC Institutes have run their own public dialogues in order to inform internal policy*

Graphic Science was commissioned by BBSRC to review the three dialogues collectively to see what could be learned that can inform future dialogues.

Using a mixture of desk research based and interviews and focus groups with internal and external stakeholders, we analysed the findings from all three dialogues to look for commonalities and insightful points of difference.

*John Innes, Rothamsted Research, Babraham Institute

Cardiff Science Festival Evaluation

In 2014, Graphic Science was commissioned to evaluate the Cardiff Science Festival and help the organisers to better understand who the audience for the different elements of the festival were, their motivations for attending and how satisfied they were with the events and activities they attended.

We refined the paper-based evaluation tools we had previously developed for National Science and Engineering week in order to gather data that looked at the attitudes, opinions and demographics of festival-goers. As well as this, we attended events ourselves to collect observations and conduct short interviews with members of the audience.

The data was synthesised into a highly visual report which segmented the feedback based on each type of event and found noticeable differences between those who attended paid-for or free events and those who came to the exhibition.