2017 – Building a Path to Engineer a Change! Part One

There is only a few hours left and it seems crazy that 2017 is finally coming to close, I’m certain that if we could buy time, we would! NonetheDSCF9510less the end of the year is a time to pause, reflect and to look back on how things that have changed over the past twelve months. What is more I’m not sure where to begin? It has been a year when it seems as if every single day was notable for what was going on around us. But we are coming to the end of the year and there are so many stories for which 2017 will be remembered for.  If we just look at the political landscape in the UK and across the pond, it’s been a year of monumental change. We had the most extraordinary first few months in Britain. A General election when the outcome was certainly not what the establishment as it were, thought would be the outcome, we had a hung parliament.   The appalling Grenfell Tower disaster, 4 Terrorist atrocities, Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge and Finsbury Park.

In my lifetime as I reached a significant mile stone, I will talk about this a little bit further, I cannot remember any period as chaotic if in some ways, was tragic as the period we are living through. With the constant breaking news, of Earthquakes, Floods, Fires, and Hurricanes and as I recently witnessed its devastation to these small Islands.  The 70’s (showing my age!) weren’t great especially with the abuse of the union power. But I think in some ways this year is worse!  I’m singing Oh, Baby, Baby, it’s a Wild World by Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam) and as we look to enter a new year, boy is it a wild world!

In some ways it’s been a bit wild at the Ursuline too, and certainly been a busy time since my last 2016 review post. Another amazing year for us and those of you who have followed me on twitter would have been up to date on our endeavours. In 2017 we saw continued progression, and as I cast my mind back through the significant moments of the past year- we chalked up some momentous STEM successes.

So if I try to review the mission achievements (and of course, these are team wins rather than my own); It’s also worth noting that these successes doesn’t mean you’re the complete packaged. But if anyone would have told me last year that we would have a Silver Pearson Teacher of the year award http://www.teachingawards.com/awards/2017silverwinners2/  and a Wise One to Watch Finalist I’d have laughed at their face.  But wrestling a full time job with all extra-curricular activities in 2017 has been very challenging to say the least.

So as I un-pick the Highlights of 2017

We started the year with a Stemettes Stem in a Day at Accenture, four of our Year 11 students graduated in the Student to Sherpee programme. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1caI3Wog04&utm_ Growing with confidence and one that ensures the STEM baton is passed onto the younger years, students continue to spread the word amongst their peers, as they arrange their own STEM school assemblies, and run their own STEM club activities. And taking 15 pupils to participate in the Accenture Girls in Stem event, the biggest STEM activity day of the year, engaging girls globally was an awe inspiring day for each pupil!

Through volunteering their own time in STEM outreach work we had one Young Citizen Finalist Award winner, http://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/education/unveiled-the-last-of-our-young-citizen-award-2016-finalists-1-4835560

Pupils become a keynote speaker at two major STEM events, ie: held at Parliament on a topic ‘Women in STEM’ to MP’s and the world of business. Pupil sharing the stage with Bill Gates, speaking at The Grand Challenge competition and many others followed.

4 pupils out of 9 nationally, were selected to be part of the successful inaugural IET Junior Board of 2016, for the 2017 Board this year, a Voice Newspaper article a massive accomplishment for them all http://www.theiet.org/membership/member-news/44a/junior-board2017.cfm  http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/future-science-looking-female  http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/future-science-looking-female-part-2

I featured on the panel of 4 of the well anticipated WORLD PREMIERE: Video of Eat Sleep, STEM, Repeat, Outbox Documentary, which featured 6 of our pupils who took part in the inaugural Incubator, who then took the responsibility and introduced the first whole school screening of the film and a further 3 screenings at school assemblies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTLfcnmcm4U&feature=share&app=desktop

Crest Youth panellist participating and presenting ideas dragons den style on the Future Forum held at the Siemens Crystal – Exploring cities, innovation and inequality,  

Anyone who knows me – knows that I love a competition! I believe that if you want to raise standards either enter or arrange your own competition. I have been a judge at many regional Big Bang National Science Competitions. This is always a great way to see current trends, innovation and some great design ideas. So of course when the invitation arose offering me a main Judging Role at Science Museum for the Ultimate BP STEM Challenge, it was one I would relish as a new challenge.

15 Sixth Form Pupils received tickets courtesy of Stemettes to view the Hidden Figures Film at the Genesis Cinema in Whitechapel. The girls left unanimously inspired by the film – a remarkable story, beautifully told, with proper female leads. And, for us as teachers, a remarkably effective way of switching their minds onto STEM. A Film that challenges people’s idea of what an engineer does. My message to girls hesitant about studying STEM, and teachers urging their girls to consider STEM, would be this – let’s make sure there are no more hidden figures!

I haven’t said no to a single opportunity that has came to me and trying something new will be challenging but also rewarding in the long run. STEMInsight has been one of the most inspiring experience I have ever taken part in, and as we continue to increase our work based learning, this has materialised in getting even more pupils summer work experience this year with TFL, Crossrail and Volker Fitzpatrick.

This has led to many other opportunities for me – first in delivering STEM CPD’s courses at York University for Technicians on the new GCSE and to talk about my STEM Insight experience at the Stem Learning Alumni Conference.  To continue on from last year, several requests for me to write blogs post for both Stem Learning, one post to coincide with Apprenticeship week, https://www.stem.org.uk/blog/making-difference-and-inspiring-future-generation one for Academy Today – Engaging Girls into STEM; http://academytoday.co.uk/Article/how-can-we-continue-to-engage-girls-in-stem

And an article for SecEd on my Stem Insight Crossrail Placement: http://www.sec-ed.co.uk/best-practice/stem-industry-placements-for-teachers/

And as the school puts on its first ever YR 9 CAREERS DAY my contacts into the industry proves fruitful as Katie Keller, Crossrail’s only female Crawler crane driver pays a visit to inspire our young ladies to a rewarding career in engineering http://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/girl_power_crane_operator_houses_of_parliament_librarian_and_entrepreneur_inspire_ilford_pupils_1

Our First Crowdfunding platform with the 1 Mile project went live, successfully raising £1,000 for pupils to purchase photography equipment to make a film on the lack of women in STEM.

 I ask myself how I can contribute in designing a tech product if I cannot code- not Yet! -but certainly on my bucket list to learn, too much potential to become an innovator!   And as we enter a new year, it is timely to look at the pipeline of girls choosing the core STEM subjects needed for roles in engineering and technology. Personally, I am a big advocate of women in tech and just because I cannot code, does not mean that I cannot inspire those who would like to enter that industry. Last year we had one pupil have the opportunity to go to Texas, this year we had two pupils out of 5 girls chosen, – yes two- Sharmin Aktar and Sofian Earally win places on the Grace Hooper Dreamforce trip of a lifetime. With Stemettes an all expensive trip all the way to San Francisco, bouncing from one seminar to another meeting so many inspiring giants of the Tech world. These packages are all about nurturing the engineers of tomorrow, today

Brilliant news as our pupils are asked to write up their own blogs a brilliant piece written by one such student Vanessa Madu, who also received an interview to Cambridge this month, I would like to think her part in the school STEM activities has played a small part in that process. http://www.womanthology.co.uk/calling-young-people-parents-teachers-iet-wants-work-yes-9percentisnotenough-women-engineering-vanessa-madu-member-iets-junior-board/

The biggest stories of the year in terms of students STEM success, by far, was that of one student. Being invited to the Queens Garden Party for her contributions in STEM with the British Science Association. She has had a string of recognitions, her year has been spectacular, at just 18 years old joining a panellist on the BBC Woman’s Hour and then becoming a WISE One to Watch finalist – massive achievements! Now off to Warwick to read Mechanical Engineering! https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/inspiration/2017/09/floriane-fidegnon is the fruition of joining our STEM club back in 2011.

A club that has grown over the past 6 years I am pleased to say that 70% of those who took Physics this year went onto to study Engineering in some form or another let’s give that stat a happy face emoji! A tall order but I would like to think we have built a school/ stem club with the very highest standards, both in terms of academic teaching and life beyond the classroom! And as our pupils continued to amaze us with their enthusiasm, interest, commitment and drive and give a new definition to the word “winning” more STEM journeys created than in 2016 that translated once again in engaging every year group in the school to some form of STEM extra-curricular. On any whiteboard finding space in the curriculum for this was tough but that’s innovation for you.

Part Two be continued!!!!…..





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