If you’re an engineer who’d like funding to support your own STEM outreach activities, apply now for I’m an Engineer, Get me out of here at imanengineer.org.uk/engineers
I had grand plans for the prize money, I think everyone does! But I wasn’t expecting the year to pan out how it did! My first thought was to create a low-cost bioreactor to use as a tool to explain biochemical engineering, but it turns out that ‘low cost’ is a relative term and £500 wouldn’t stretch far enough to allow me to make more than 1! And to make more schools would need some specialist equipment, such as a 3D printer. So I moved the goal posts.
Next idea, was to take part in a festival with a known schools outreach program and as such I partnered with Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr and the Shuffle Festival to create a workshop on cell growth interwoven with the story of a Golem, which is an anthropomorphic shape that is animated to life (think Frankenstein’s monster made from clay) from folklore. Unfortunately two things happened:
- I spent all of the budget and more on materials for the workshop
- The workshop got cancelled because the festival lost a lot of extra funding and had to shorten its programme.
We did stil engage with the general public at the festival (see the video above) and got some people from local schools to help with its creation but it was not as far reaching as I had hoped.
I was not disheartened! I was able to use the money (with help from my university, UCL) for another engineering festival, SMASHfestUK! I designed and built elements for a ‘survival village’ that happened in South East London this February.
I’m now keen to go back to my first idea of the bioreactor, and I’m also working with some PhD students in my department to make an educational tool for schools, which revolves around a board game to explain vaccine research, development and manufacturing.