Supporting the Engineering Diploma

In addition to the training we give to all STEM Ambassadors under the STEMNET contract, we provide on-going support to our STEM Ambassadors through one to one mentoring, guidance to develop activities, networking opportunities and buddying with more experienced Ambassadors.

From time to time, this includes developing specialist training to help Ambassadors support developing areas of the curriculum or other areas of increased school need.

For example, in 2009 we received funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering to design a bespoke training course, along with a set of specially devised classroom activities, for engineers across the South West who wished to support the delivery of the 14-19 Engineering Diplomas in schools.

The project entailed

  1. Designing a training course that provided engineers with the skills to support the delivery of the 14-19 Engineering Diplomas
  2. Delivering this training course to a range of STEM Ambassadors across the South West
  3. Developing resources and activities for engineers to use in schools
  4. Working with schools to provide opportunities for these engineers to develop their skills through working with students studying the 14-19 Engineering Diploma

More recent curriculum changes and significantly reduced government support have meant that fewer schools now offer the 14-19 Engineering Diploma. However, the engineers who took part in the training continue to support schools with the activities they developed.

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.

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: or from @teachmysteries on Twitter

Mapping schools enrichment provision for RCUK with NCCPE

Research Councils UK are currently in the process of considering next steps in their ongoing work to connect researchers and schools.

As part of this we worked with NCCPE to undertake scoping work looking at the enrichment landscape for schools in all subject areas to inform RCUK and Research Council colleagues regarding the policy pushes and pulls, strategic governance and on the ground provision of opportunities for schools.

The work was based on extensive desk research looking at government publications and other grey literature relating to the funding, policy drivers and impacts associated with enrichment as well as relevant academic publications. The work was underpinned by a small number of interviews with representatives from arts and heritage enrichment.

Creative Computing Evaluation

Creative Computing is a series of computing clubs for 11-16 year olds which gives them the opportunity to make their own Arduino-based project.
The project has been created and run by Science Oxford, is funded by a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious Award and is being supported and run by professional engineers.
We are evaluating the project to find out its impact on engineers and the young people taking part using a combination of in-club activities, surveys and reflective feedback diaries.

Impacts on the engineers

  • Greater understanding of how to engage young people with programming
  • Increased understanding of how programming fits within the educational curriculum
  • Greater appreciation of the personal and broader value of undertaking engineering activities with young people
  • Greater appreciation of value of communicating about their work and engineering in general
  • Increased confidence in running activities with young people
  • Increased confidence in talking to others about what they do in general
  • Better understanding of how to plan and develop activities for children (advisory panel members)

Impacts on club members

  • Knowledge of how to program
  • Confidence to experiment and be creative with new knowledge
  • Skills to find and interpret information and develop their abilities independently
  • Enthusiasm for programming that will last beyond the duration of the project
  • Greater understanding of who engineers are
  • Greater understanding of what engineers do
  • Increased awareness of careers in engineering

Evaluation of Science Oxford’s Arduino computing club.