ISSN 2050-5337 - ISSUE 5

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013 07:45

Creativity in education: engaging pupils in STEM

Written by Paul Jackson

Talent is the foundation for economic growth, and is at the heart of our vibrant engineering and manufacturing sector. Engineering is often the silent 'E' in STEM education so it is vitally important that that we find innovative ways to join up with the existing curriculum and bring engineering to life in in schools.

Despite the fact that three fifths of the general public see a career in engineering a 'good profession/career', 'challenging' and 'well paid', one fifth of teachers believe that engineering is an 'undesirable' career. Just 12% of 12 – 16 year olds know what an engineer does and most see engineering as less well paid than other professions.

Collaboration with engineering companies in the UK means that together we can do more to tackle skills gaps, improve understanding about engineering and ultimately increase the number of young people choosing engineering as a career.

Tomorrow's Engineers is a careers programme led by EngineeringUK and the Royal Academy of Engineering, delivered through a broad partnership between business and industry, the engineering profession, activity delivery organisations and schools working together to inspire learners. Our long-term objective is to reach every state-funded secondary school in the UK to:

  • improve awareness about engineering and what engineers do among pupils, their teachers (and parents)
  • enthuse young people about engineering and the career opportunities available
  • encourage young people to make the subject choices that keep open the routes into a career in engineering

The Tomorrow's Engineers initiative brings engineering into the classroom to give young people the chance to get hands-on with engineering and ask questions about what real-life engineering jobs entail. This is underpinned by curriculum-linked careers information and resources, and an ambassador programme.

In the programme's third year, we have begun pilot scheme Tomorrow's Engineers Around The World in collaboration with Midlands engineering firms, E.ON, GKN, Goodrich, Jaguar Land Rover, National Grid, Rolls-Royce and Severn Trent. The careers outreach programme for schools aims to provide an introduction to modern engineering backed up with careers information and resources that will inspire future engineers.

Last summer year 9 pupils at Small Heath Upper School, Birmingham, were the first pupils in the country to experience Tomorrow's Engineers Around the World, designed to show young people the exciting jobs that their science and mathematics subjects could lead to in the future.

Linked to the Science and Design and Technology curriculum, 13-14 year-olds took part in an interactive presentation and activities tackling issues from climate change and surviving earthquakes to how to make sure our lights don't go out.

Activities included:

  • I Engineer - a hands-on challenge pitting pupils against the clock to come up with solutions to big engineering conundrums
  • Engineering X Factor - Challenges and brain-teasers that shatter the myths that surround engineering and highlight the key skills and qualifications needed to follow a career in engineering
  • The Drawing Board – A Dragon's Den style activity giving pupils the chance to put their product or solution ideas to an industry expert.

You can see pupils', teachers' and programme partners' reactions to the launch of Tomorrow's Engineers Around The World on the website www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk

The Around The World initiative is proving to be a successful partnership for all involved, giving young people an introduction to engineering and enabling local companies with international standing to give pupils a taster of opportunities available where they live. It is a great example of what can be achieved through collaboration, and the model of engagement is being rolled out in other regions.

One size does not fit all, however; just as Birmingham's economic strengths and skills needs are not the same as those in Southampton. Currently we're working with companies in the North West and Hampshire to design programmes that will capture the imaginations of young people living in those areas most effectively.

Our evaluations show that this creative approach to schools makes a positive impact on pupils and teachers. 47% of pupils who have taken part in Tomorrow's Engineers activities believe a career in engineering is desirable, compared to 26% of all UK pupils. 81% of teachers who have been involved in a Tomorrow's Engineers initiative say that a career in engineering is desirable for their pupils, compared to 47% of all UK teachers.

We reach hundreds of thousands of pupils a year with crucial messaging about engineering careers, information and resources, and, working with the wider engineering community, Tomorrow's Engineers has the potential to reach even more new learners every year.

To finds out more about the Tomorrow's Engineers programme contact Heather Williams on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk

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