I'm an Engineer, Get me out of here!
I'm a Engineer aims to get engineers and secondary school Maths, D&T and Science students talking. It aims to show students what engineering is really about, and bring it to life for students through discussion and debate. It shows students that engineers are 'normal' people, and gives engineers an insight into what students think about engineering. It's supported by lesson plans for different ages and ability levels, between years 7-13.
The project objectives were to produce the online event and teacher packs, to run 5 zones (each consisting of 5 engineers and 20 classes, equating to 25 engineers, 100 classes and 2,000 students) and to evaluate the project and share its findings.
Summary of activity:
We ran 6 zones with 30 engineers, 72 classes and 1,599 students taking part. 3,681 questions were asked, and there were 81 live chats where scientists and students wrote over 28,131 lines of live text. £3,000 was distributed to the zone winners to spend on communicating their work to the public. We got funding to run an additional 6th zone from the STFC. We evaluated throughout, and sent a summary zone report to all engineers and teachers involved.
Being online, the project collects megabytes of data and we used this data to capture statistics based on students taking part in the live chat sessions, asking questions and casting votes. We also collected feedback surveys from teachers, students and engineers. Using both statistics and feedback, we produced short summary evaluation documents for each zone to help engineers illuminate the impact of taking part.
What went well:
1. 87% of students signed up to the project actively participated in it, through questions, live chats, comments and/or voting
2. All of engineers who gave feedback said they would recommend the project to colleagues and friends and would take part again themselves
3. Students learned new things about engineering - 94% now feel they better understand what engineers do
4. The engineers said they now want to do more public engagement - 93% were more confident in communicating their work after taking part
What was learned:
1. Engineers want to take part and do public engagement work, and teachers are keen to get their students talking to engineers
2. Recruiting maths and D&T teachers was not as easy as recruiting science teachers, so in future we would spend more time on this
3. The 'I'm a Scientist' format transferred really well to engineers
4. Students wanted to learn about engineering, and especially careers in this field
Top tips and advice for others
1. Word of mouth is the best form of marketing if you make sure the event is a great experience for all involved
2. Twitter helps to spread the word and keep participants informed
3. Working with other knowledgeable organisations is really useful - we worked with the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) and the Design And Technology Association (DATA) to help recruit teachers