The Future of Energy Day – IBM/Shell event

Fifty 11 to 14-year- olds took part in a stimulating “Future of Energy” challenge on 15 November 2016. It was run by IBM and Shell to get them thinking about the role technology can play to create clean and efficient energy solutions. The students then pitched their ideas to a Dragon’s Den-style panel.

I was given the opportunity to shadow a STEM ambassador, Jasprit Chadal Shell Fuel Scientist, I was able to discuss her experiences including education and job roles and also gain a better understanding of the STEM Ambassador role. As part of the day, the students also gained a perspective on ‘a day in the life’ of a Shell and IBM apprentice. They heard from both companies about new energies, the importance of STEM skills in addressing the energy challenge, and the technology-led innovations that will be developed to meet that challenge.

The ‘Future of Energy’ challenge is a great initiative where like-minded companies collaborate. It is delivered as part of the commitment to support STEM education. The creativity of the bright ideas pitched by the students and their enthusiasm and team work was inspirational. The teams generated really thought-provoking concepts for developing cleaner and more efficient energy solutions.

These challenge days can really help make the connection for teenagers with how STEM Study can change the world. All involved demonstrated so much energy, enthusiasm and innovation. Businesses are working together with schools in the community to inspire the next generation. They are changing the perception that these subjects are only for the ‘clever’ kids. They are for all and with more apprenticeship schemes available for school leavers as well as the traditional graduate programmes, there really are great opportunities for students in the UK to pursue STEM based careers and make a real difference.


Girls in STEM – Ursuline Academy Ilford

Girls in STEM

On Tuesday 7th February 2017 myself, Mrs Russell and thirteen Year 10 students attended the largest technology event for girls in the UK. It was organised by Stemettes and Accenture, both organisations continue to help inspire girls to consider studying STEM subjects and to pursue a career in technology. This year was even bigger than 2016, it brought together girls from across the country and the globe for young girls in India and California to inspire future STEM careers. The event was held at the prestigious Royal Institute of Great Britain, a unique venue devoted to scientific education and research.

The day started with a fun ice breaker activity, the girls were divided into STEM pop groups with other schools. They had to think of a name for their group, a STEM related title for their first top 10 single and also a dance move. Some girls got the opportunity to perform their move in front of the whole audience. Lots of fun and laughter was had and the activity made sure the day got off to a fantastic start. The girls were then set their morning task, to build a car and control it with an app using AppShed! It was an interesting morning and the girls were challenged in a number of ways, they needed to be able to work as part of a team consisting of students from different schools, they had to be quick thinking as time was limited and above all they had to show sheer determination to ensure the task was completed. Our girls definitely rose to the challenge!

The afternoon involved the girls taking part in a workshop – The Trading Game delivered by As Creatives a multi-arts provider designing and delivering exciting, engaging and effective creative learning programmes through the arts. This was an energetic workshop, girls were actively trading and using their maths skills to win bonus points. The final part of the day involved an informative panel discussion with three women working in STEM roles. One of the panellist was 16 year old Yasmin Bey who was awarded EU Digital Girl of the Year 2015/16. She was particularly impressive and gave the girls some useful advice.

Our Head girl Floriane Fidegnon was one of the volunteers and did a grand job co-hosting. This event was extremely beneficial and it is great that we have the opportunity to be involved. More importantly these events are completely free to the young girls who take part. Once again our students behaved impeccably and this was recognised by a number of Accenture volunteers. We look forward to accompanying our students to future events. See links #STEM #GirlsInSTEM @AccentureTechUK

Student comments…..

“I loved every part of the trip! I learnt how to construct a car robot and code it to make it move. This was good as it helped me understand coding more which will help me on Python. During our break, we made sturdy sticks out of newspaper which then can be made into objects such as chairs. The best part was the virtual reality. It made me realise that technology is changing rapidly for the better and sooner or later there will be more eco-friendly products.”

“I really enjoyed the day, listening to other people’s experiences was really inspiring as it showed me that you can really do whatever you want in life! Even working in NASA. When we had to build the cars with other schools it was fun as we were able to interact with new people and still learn how to build something in common. My favourite game of the day was probably the trading game as it made you think very strategically and work as a team. The lunch time entertainment was also really cool to watch amazing things whilst eating. We had an opportunity to walk and look at the different exhibits, it was fascinating as you were able to see STEM through many different ways. It was a very eventful day that I thoroughly enjoyed.”

“I felt I learnt how to do coding and different problems you may face. I also had a lot of fun during the trading game where we got to talk to others girls and how we could use maths to banking and everyday life. I enjoyed learning about the different careers in STEM for women. I particularly like the Round the Bend task of building a driverless car, because everything we came across a problem we had to try and solve it.”

“I really enjoyed the trip! I learned to put all my technological skills to use, however there were problems with wiring when making our driverless car. I really enjoyed the last session game of trading, it really inspired me to look into the world of business and stock exchange market. The panel was very good and the guest speakers were very inspirational and motivating, plus we got to take home a goody bag as well!”

“The talks from the speakers were interesting and very inspirational and has given me the determination. Moreover, by mixing with other schools, new friends were made. Building cars with new friends was challenging, but in the end we were laughing and making jokes. During lunch it was an interesting atmosphere. I tried VR, learnt about Raspberry Pi and enjoyed demonstrations of colourful flames. Would I consider a career in STEM? Yes! I am very interested in tech engineering and maths and although we live in a very sexist society, I strongly believe as a women I can get there! Lastly the goody bag was very thoughtful, my favourite aspect was the cardboard VR box so now I can watch YouTube videos with cinematic view. I also love the STEM badges that I wear to school with pride.”

“The day was planned perfectly, apart from the driverless car task, I felt that a few volunteers didn’t know what to do, but it provided us with problems we had to try and solve ourselves. I enjoyed and was able to create my own code for my car, and the tours. What did I learn? I learnt that to make your mark you have to go out into the world and try things people would not stereotypically expect you. Would I consider a STEM career? I would definitely, especially in the technological field as I truly enjoy things like coding.”  

“The event was really interesting and exciting. It helped us think on our feet and solve puzzles. The trading game made maths seem fun. There were many workshops like virtual reality, dry Ice and carbon dioxide experiments. Would I consider a career in STEM? Yes, I’m passionate about fixing things and engineering would be a good career for me.”

“I enjoyed how we got time to explore and see different STEM related companies. It put into perspective how broad STEM is as a career industry. I enjoyed the trade games the most because it allowed us to mingle while using logic and maths skills. I learnt that STEM is everywhere. Most things link back to it considering technology is a big part of the modern world.”

“Would I consider going into a STEM career? Yes, there are a wide variety of STEM careers and I really enjoy STEM subjects in school. I would like to go into architecture because that would allow me to be creative and make beautiful pieces of art and buildings.

What I enjoyed and what I would like to improve….. I feel the day could be improved by including some more creative elements connected to STEM. But overall I enjoyed how we got time to explore and see different STEM related companies. It put into perspective how broad STEM is as a career industry. I also enjoyed the fire show that took place at lunch time because it was very interesting and I learnt a lot of things, science related. I feel the day could be improved by including some more creative elements connected to STEM. I really enjoyed the trip, I learnt new things.”

STEM in a day – Ursuline Academy Ilford

STEM in a Day – Ursuline Academy Ilford

On Monday 23rd January 2017 thirteen Year 9 STEM pupils set off to the London head office of Accenture in the city. Accenture is a global software company and is one of the world’s largest consulting firms. Our girls felt honored to be invite d to this location and were thrilled by the size of the building and also the view of the Shard from the Accenture offices.

The day started with some fun ice breaker activities including dividing into groups and discovering to the number of languages spoken. One group consisted of at least 9 different languages from Dutch to Urdu. The girls were then set a brief to design an App using ‘Appshed’ to be used at a music festival.

The team leaders from Stemettes, Leila and Halima, were helped by two members of Accenture to judge the final idea. We were also joined by Imogen who works at Accenture developing innovative solutions to help their clients achieve the ‘digital workplace of the future’. She told us about her Accenture experience so far and talked us through the application process and qualifications needed to work at Accenture. The girls also had the opportunity to tour the Interactive Innovation Centre and were blown away by all of the latest technology, they were also given goody bags to take home. It was an informative and exciting day!

Student comment:

My Experience at Accenture – when we arrived at Accenture we were led to a room where we met four ladies who were with us all day. They explained to us what Accenture is and what they do. Accenture helps other companies such as Disney and Argos by developing their use of technology. Later on we competed against each other to make an app on the theme of ‘Music Festival’. My partner and I came first place and we received prizes. We also had a tour of the building and saw some of their amazing technology they develop. It was an amazing day and I would definitely recommend it.

IET Faraday Challenge Trophy Winners July 2016 – Ursuline Academy Ilford

IET Faraday Challenge Trophy Winners July 2016

Twenty-nine schools from across London and Essex were invited to IET London, Savoy Place on Monday 18 July after winning an IET Faraday Challenge Day which tasks teams of students with solving a real life engineering challenge. This year’s challenge was based on the BBC micro:bit – the small, programmable tool designed to introduce those in Year 7 (England) or equivalent, to the world of coding and can be used to create anything from games and animations to apps and scrolling stories. Students had to code their BBC micro:bit for a real-life engineering application in order to show the relevance of this new device to the world around us.

Students invited to the celebration event had to develop a product which could build on their best ideas from the IET Faraday Challenge Day. Each team had to present their work to a panel of judges. The Ursuline Academy’s idea was based on a countdown monitor tracker for the menstrual cycle, to alert females of their first day of their periods which caught the eye of the Judges. The winners delivered a mature approach and pushed the boundaries very comfortably, in their presentation on a taboo subject “Periods”! which they named “Code Red” Not a Taboo for you. They were awarded the prize for Creativity. Other awards included team spirit, innovation, product design, and most promising future software engineer.

Student comment

 “I loved going on this trip because it was a unique experience. I got to learn about different things to do with coding for example how much coding there is to operate an IPhone. And how important a Science Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) will be for future jobs careers”

Students had the opportunity to learn how to code and program their own BBC micro:bit in a very hands-on and practical environment in the hope that this will give them an insight into the life of a real engineer, the variety a career in engineering can offer and the central role it plays in our everyday lives. The event gave the perfect opportunity to celebrate the students’ successes and encourage them to take their ideas even further.

Day 3 – 2/11/16

Full on technical morning today, talking to a software developer about the different roles within this area. It was a fascinating insight into how current software is developed and how it is like a spider’s web of intricacies. We looked at the process of development and the different stages systems go through before they are ready to be used. We discussed what motivates developers and encourages creativity whilst at the same time delivering results. We also explored different ideas and ways to deliver concepts via the computing curriculum. Lots for me to reflect on and think about.

I had an interesting afternoon meeting with the Head of IBM’s Diversity and Inclusion department. It was immediately clear that IBM is firmly committed to supporting diversity and I discovered that the organisation has been acknowledged by a wide selection of organisations for its efforts within this area. It was great to hear about the different pathways into IBM, programmes such as the school leavers programme, the apprenticeship scheme and the IBM futures scheme, which is a 12 month paid gap year. There are also lots of opportunities for both Undergraduates and Graduates. We discussed what it is like working for such a large organisation and how that affects the working culture within such an environment. It was made clear that it is very much up to the individual to make the most of their opportunities, the employee is in charge of their own success, putting forward ideas, taking on responsibilities and making choices about how to get the job done. No micro management here!

Two very different sessions today but equally as valuable, lots of useful information that will help me adapt the curriculum and the way in which I deliver my lessons. Also I feel better informed about potential options for my students.

Day Two -1/11/2016

Today was the day I was introduced to IBM Waston (Take a look at how IBM Watson beat two former winners of the American quiz show Jeopardy! and the IBM Bluemix platform. It is very clear how quickly these technologies are adapted and improved almost daily. It was also the day I met one of IBM’s distinguished engineers! One of only 600 worldwide!!! We discussed what experience is needed to reach that level of expertise and the journey taken to get there. I was also able to see the latest technologies in action. At times I was blown away by how sophisticated the systems are and what they are capable of.

I will now be able to talk to my students about technologies that I have been exposed to first hand. All of this information has got my mind buzzing, thinking about curriculum ideas, tweaking current units of work and potential new projects. Making sure my students are aware of what is going on in the real world of computing and the variety of STEM roles out there. It was also very interesting to discuss the qualities that IBM identify when selecting potential employees. There seems to be a continuous theme – candidates’ not just needing technical ability but a combination of technical ability, business acumen, creativity and almost most importantly a good attitude. More useful information to take back to school and share with students and colleagues.

The second part of my day involved being part of a meeting between IBM and Nesta, (an innovation charity). They are working in partnership to deliver the Longitude Explorer Prize 2017, it is a practical opportunity for students to develop their STEM skills. It was great to be part of the meeting and see the project progress through the different stages. I was also able to contribute and give an insight into school life. I believe projects such as the Longitude Explore Prize are key to inspiring more young people into STEM careers, they give the opportunity to enhance their learning experience and raise their aspirations. I will definitely be registering my school!

STEM Insight Teacher Placement @IBM

Wow what a day! Day one of my IBM TIPS experience has been fantastic. The day whizzed by, everyone was so welcoming and approachable and I knew as soon as I met the team that I would be well supported throughout my placement. The day started with an informative meeting about what I should expect and how the CCCA (Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs) team operates. I was given my agenda and then my exciting journey had began…. The day was packed full of interesting conversations and the complexity of the organisation and its systems became immediately clear. Lots of exciting discussions about IBM Watson and The Internet of Things…. Amazing, after just the morning session I have had an insight into the industry and had observed the real life application of STEM within a leading multinational technology company!

I also met with two graduates just starting out on their career paths within exciting STEM roles. They were happy to talk about their experiences, education and application process. We discussed their day to day experiences and they shared details of projects that they have been involved in. It was great that they were able to take time out from their busy schedules to meet with me and answer all of my questions.  In one day I have gathered so much valuable information that I can take back to school and share with both students and colleagues.

I feel privileged to be taking part in such a great scheme and am so grateful to everyone involved. I am looking forward to what the next two weeks have in store and cannot wait to share my experiences with my students.