Tuesday, April 5, 2022

An Eggciting Easter Challenge

Today's blog post is brought to you by Mackayla Miller, one of our advisory teachers based in the North East.

Happy Easter folks! Here at CIEC, it’s no yolk that we’re egg-stremely eggs-cited about inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers, but we’re also partial to a few terrible egg puns at this time of year.

Mackayla has been working with the year 6 children at Levendale Primary School to deliver our egg-cellent Children Challenging Industry (CCI) programme. The ‘Eggs-press Delivery Challenge’ was a tough challenge indeed, but this egg-ceptional group of pupils were willing to whisk it all and refused to be beaten. Working in teams with a budget to spend, the groups hatched their plans, packaged their eggs, shelled out for their materials, and are now eagerly awaiting the arrival of their packages in the post to see to see whose eggs survived the journey.

John Baker and Paul Bickley from Teeside plastics manufacturing company Alpek Polyester UK Ltd, joined the classroom sessions via Zoom to give the children an insight into their jobs and engage them in a remote site visit, including an exciting interactive bottle-drop investigation. But it’s not just the children who benefit from the Children Challenging Industry experience. Here’s what John Baker, HSEQ and Technology Director has to say about getting involved:

“I’ve been involved with CCI for nearly 10 years now and every session, whether face to face or more recently using video conference, is great. The engagement from the children in the classroom is fantastic, with them often asking challenging and thoughtful questions. As well as trying to get across what we do in industry and the rewarding careers from STEM subjects, it is an opportunity to speak directly to teachers about what can be quite limited in the curriculum on science and engineering. In some sessions, explaining what we in industry think is obvious can, when seen through different eyes, put a whole new perspective on things, so it is not just a one-way street. The practical sessions show the children the scale of our operations and seeing their sense of wonder reminds me of my primary school teacher who inspired me into my career (he was a nuclear physicist!). I would recommend anyone in STEM careers getting involved as it is a rewarding session.”

If you would like help to get cracking with your STEM education why don't you contact ciec@york.ac.uk to see if you could become involved in any of our initiatives to link schools with science based industries.  Alternatively, you could try this activity with your class as full teacher notes are available for free from our website.

Full activity notes are available in this free CIEC resource including teacher guidance and safety advice

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Inspiring the next generation with Tolu

At CIEC we are all about breaking down stereotypes so that ALL children know that there is a place for them in STEM careers if they choose.  We know that there is still important work to do in this area as can be seen in the work done by Inspiring the Future.  If you haven't yet seen their video 'Redraw the Balance' please stop what you are doing and watch it now!
 'Redraw the balance' shows that gender stereotypes are embedded by the age of 7.

An important aspect of showing children know that they too could work in STEM are the STEM professionals that we work with who provide children with diverse role models and show them that science and engineering can be a worthwhile career whatever your gender or ethnicity.

Tolu is one of the ambassadors that we work with in the Royston area.  She recently told our advisory teacher Clare Docking

 CIEC does great work, and I am proud to be associated with this organisation! The opportunity to showcase the work that I do as an engineer to an ever so curious and brilliant audience is something I relish and have found to be helpful in refining skills such as public speaking. Being able to give real life context to the children on some of the concepts they learn about in the classroom is something I find enriching. Not only does this help to demystify myths about STEM, but it also raises their awareness of the career prospects, and the role STEM plays in everyday life.

Tolu outside number 10 Downing Street

Tolu told Clare that she became interested in maths, physics and chemistry at school and knew from a very young age that she wanted to work in the world of science. Her parents encouraged her to take an interest in the sciences when growing up. However, others were concerned about her becoming a female engineer.  Fortunately, Tolu had the opportunity to visit local industry during work experience where she met a range of people in scientific roles and decided that she would like to become a Chemical Engineer. 

She knew that there was a place for women in engineering due to meeting some brilliant female engineers.  Even so, she is often the only female on the team and would really like to see more females in engineering and a greater ethnic diversity, particularly in leadership positions. Tolu enjoys her job very much saying that it is a very varied role and once trained you can work in many different sectors. She feels that she is making an important contribution to society and is doing a valuable job.

Tolu knows that her work as an ambassador for Children Challenging Industry is very important, commenting 

Although these children are still in the early stages of their education, I see it as an opportunity for a company to invest in the continuity of their talent pipeline. Beyond this is the possibility of young people, who as a result of being exposed to the industry feel empowered to pursue a career in STEM.

We would like to thank Tolu for taking the time to inspire the next generation.  If you would like to find out how CIEC could help the children in your school please contact us on ciec@york.ac.uk