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 knew I wanted to spend the prize winnings on encouraging students to study and work in STEM fields through engagement, inspiration and developing their STEM skills. Tall order with £500! So I teamed up with Tech for Life Newcastle to organise an event which would include practical workshops and a panel session. Most importantly it needed to be led by people working in STEM. I believe it’s really important for the students and parents to meet and talk to real life scientists and engineers. So we set about organising the event, approaching our joint networks to get support and resources.
We decided the event should be held on Ada Lovelace day, 10 Oct 2017. Ada Lovelace was a gifted mathematician who is now widely recognised as the first computer programmer. She was our inspiration for the event and as the first computer programmer and a woman, we decided to develop coding skills of young girls.
We invited girls from local primary schools to come along to Campus North, where we hosted the event. We were very honoured that Kate Russell, tech journalist, gave the video intro and then we introduced the students to programming concepts using Scratch and an Ada sprite, the challenge was to generate a poem using random words. You can have a go here: https://codeclubprojects.org/en-GB/scratch/poetry-generator/. Then we showed the students how to build and code a digital watch using a BBC Microbit.
The students had great fun and it was amazing how involved they got with the challenges. The students got to keep the BBC microbits for future projects. Importantly they had the chance to work with and ask questions of people working in STEM. The funding also allowed me to buy additional BBC microbits which are being used to run workshops at school STEM outreach events.
To further cover engagement and inspiration, in the evening we hosted a panel session sponsored by Hedgehog Lab with 4 fabulous leading ladies telling an audience of over 60 people about the challenges, rewards and excitement of working in STEM. A wonderful inspirational evening was had by all.
Since taking part in I’m an Engineer and running the Ada Lovelace event, I have been involved in Tech for Life Leading Ladies programme, I have been mentoring Women in Engineering I wrote an article for The Engineer magazine, and attending outreach events around Newcastle. Taking part in I’m an Engineer has given me confidence to take part in outreach programmes. I have been awarded a place in the Top 50 Women in Engineering for 2018 recognising influential women in engineering.
I would like to thank I’m an Engineer, Tech for Life, Campus North, the schools which attended Ada Lovelace Day, Accenture, Hedgehog Lab, Kate Russell, Women’s Engineering Society and the volunteers for their support and helping to inspire the next generation.