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How Vicky is supporting STEM homeschooling during COVID-19

Posted by 4MAT Administrator
Posting date:5/1/2020 9:32 AM
01 May 2020

Meet Vicky, National STEM Lead at Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group. Although the Atkins STEM Community works on activities throughout the year, this is usually the start of their busiest event season. 



By now, our STEM Ambassadors are teaching children about STEM careers on our "Young Engineers and Scientists Programme." They're dreaming up fun activities for "Bring Your Child To Work Day" and the Big Bang Fair – not to mention, gearing up to welcome our summer work experience students!

Even with COVID-19 putting everything on hold, Vicky is staying positive. Nothing can stop her team of STEM Volunteers from coming up with fun, new ways for young people to discover the world of science, technology, engineering and maths. She talks to us about what she’s been doing in lock down:

Vicky, how are you meeting the challenge to inspire the next generation while schools are closed, and events are cancelled?
 
Most children are being home-schooled now. So, we’d like to support all parents, not just Atkins parents, with high-quality online resources and activities. These include our "Engine Ears School Pack," "I Will Cards," and the new "Journey to Mars Activity."

How do engineers make a difference during a global pandemic?

Engineers are really important at a time like this. They were essential in setting up the Nightingale Hospitals, making sure they had all the space, power and facilities to serve the country. It's also engineers that have designed the ventilators helping the most poorly people to breathe.

With so many of us working from home, we've changed the way we use power, water and Wi-Fi. Engineers have been responsible for making sure that all of these vital services are ready for this sudden shift in use.

And when it comes to supporting essential workers and journeys, the work of transportation engineers has made it possible for roads and railways to continue to work safely.
 
Tell us about the resources that you and your STEM Team have come up with to support;homeschooling with STEM education.

Our series of STEM activities is something the team and I are very proud of. And quite early into lock-down, it was really comforting to see how easy it was to collaborate with colleagues from all over the UK to come up with something amazing.

Introducing "Journey To Mars"



The idea came from our HR Director, Jilly, who inspired her daughter to design the perfect lock-down pad. We loved that it was an activity anyone could do from home. And also that it resonated with the shared experience of children all over the world. To make the idea more exciting, the "pad" became a "pod" and part of a bigger story – a space mission to Mars!

What went into creating these resources?

It was fantastic to work remotely with our STEM Ambassadors and parents. After our first meeting, we tested some of our ideas on the rest of the team. We approached Atkins' ParentNet and wider STEM communities to see what they thought. Many of us made our own pods, testing the instructions to see what was possible.

When we were happy that it could work, we got our Communication and Creative Design teams to bring it to life. I'm proud to say that Atkins' 'Journey To Mars' is now sitting with the Canterbury STEM HUB's space resources for homeschooling.

Do the resources work with a curriculum in mind?

Now that children are home-schooled, they're less likely to be with kids in the same school year, and so these activities can be carried out by the whole family. We've made the instructions deliberately vague so that they can be used by any age group. And all activities are easily adaptable for children with SEN. 

MISSION 01 is fun AND incorporates learning

Our first activity is to design your own Space Pod. It gets children thinking about the essential things they'd need every day. How would you personalise your pod? Where would you eat? What would help you get your schoolwork done? These are the kinds of things that engineers are responsible for. As they build their space capsule, they'll be writing, drawing, making and measuring. There’s plenty more learning to come as we release follow-up "Missions" based on additional STEM topics. So… Watch this space!
This May, we're really excited to be supporting TeenTech with their virtual resources, "City of Tomorrow" and "Innovation sessions."

TeenTech - City of Tomorrow 

Students aged 8-13 can dream up and create a smart city to improve how we'll live, work and play in the future. Working to the brief of "Smarter, Kinder, Safer," the challenge is to design and construct architectural models of buildings using recyclable materials. No ideas are too big, and it's an exciting way for families to discover pathways into construction, engineering and technology. It will also help students explore the essential core skills that these careers require. Get involved, and you'll be able to 'e-meet' our STEM volunteers. They'll be talking about what they do at Atkins and giving feedback on the students' amazing designs.
 
Do you have any words of encouragement for young people right now?
 
What we’re going through is very strange and unsettling, but won't last forever. See the positives in the downtime. Hopefully, there won't be another time like this, so make the most of it. Turn off the TV and your phones, spend time with your families, appreciate nature, and use this time to keep learning and discovering something new!


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