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Why don’t more children want to be engineers?

Engineering is an exhilarating world of endless possibilities and the careers can be some of the most thrilling. Some of the jobs in engineering that our children will do may not even exist yet and will capture the imaginations and creativity of a generation.

However, this exciting career path doesn’t seem to be making its way onto many of the job choices for as many young people as you’d think. There is a big shortage of students who think it could be a job for them, and there is a lack of diversity in the profession – only 12% of those working in engineering are women and only 8% come from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

  • Is there a solution to help specialist and non-specialist teachers help address this issue? The government has produced a simple website with resources that can be used across the curriculum from science and maths to creative subjects such as Art and Design and also PSHE. These are accessible to both specialists and non-specialists.
  • Are these lesson plans worth a look? Yes! The campaign employed a specialist panel to review hundreds of resources and it has hand-picked the best in terms of ease of use and engagement.

How can teachers promote engineering for all?

There are a number of ways to involve children in engineering but the best way is to engage all learners in active and interesting lessons that show how engineering is used in the modern age. It is about showing all pupils that they can be involved in engineering and also showcasing as many of the opportunities available.

Finding quality resources for these activities can often be time consuming and seem impossible. That is where the Year of Engineering schools hub can help all teachers looking for exciting opportunities to promote STEM and engineering to their pupils. The hub is jam-packed with resources to support teachers to bring engineering to life in the classroom for all year groups. The Year of Engineering is a Government campaign aimed at opening up the wonderful world of engineering to all and the website has been designed to provide parents, teachers and children with a starting point into the amazing life of an engineer.

The unique part of the Year of Engineering schools hub for me was the collection of partnerships involved. Having companies such as FIFA, The Science Museum, BP and many more meant there were a range of different ideas for all learners and the chance to visualise the job opportunities.

A lesson in practice

The resources on the website are easily filtered into age ranges, links to the current curriculum and is easily navigated on an appealingly designed interface. All the lessons I looked at seemed really engaging and spanned a massive range of careers that would engage most learners in the classroom and appeal to all genders and backgrounds.

I tried out the Dream Big: Engineering our world lesson from the Science Museum with my Year 8 tutor group. We decided to look at The Slender Tower Challenge: a challenge to build the tallest tower with the smallest footprint.

Slender tower challenge

The lesson was such a success! The highlights for me were:

  • The downloadable worksheets include details on materials needed and how to run the lesson.
  • The resource is highly fact focused, meaning the lesson could easily be progressed from a fun task into an excellent learning activity.
  • There is lots of scientific information included in the follow up pages which helped build my confidence when it came to explaining the activity in detail and talking about engineering.
  • The opportunity to look at real life examples (432 Park Avenue skyscraper in New York) really brings the learning to life and helped the children to understand the key real-life challenges engineers face everyday.
  • The key questions provided to ask students helped to get them focusing on the science and mathematical challenges and how to start thinking about what solutions to make.
  • The information about how to make graphs based on the data is a really nice addition.

The pupils loved the activity and engaged well with the task, learning to adapt as they went whilst working in small groups. They also loved learning about different real life aspects, such as the need for foundations and were amazed that sky scrapers moved in the wind!

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The lesson plans so are easy to interpret – any teacher could access them with ease, and the possibilities are endless. They could easily be used in science and maths lessons but would also fit well into PSHE or form time activities with non-specialist teachers.It’s nice to see some focus on STEM and engineering for all pupils and this allows fun and engaging activities for all ages accessed in one location.

Pupils were engaged throughout and some excellent thinking occurred related to science, engineering and maths. So much so that the class now want to use these lesson plans on a regular basis – the ultimate sign of success! The only problem is which one to choose next: Will make a robot friend or create a map using a laser?

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