Tales of Engineering – making magnificent things with children and their families …

After a few months of developing our website and getting our engineers to think about their research bookmarks (yes we have awesome bookmarks) we finally started taking our engineers into schools. One of the first visit we did was last wee, to a couple of schools in Darlington.

In the image below you can see Paula (right) and her most magnificent thing as imagined and built by children in a reception class.

Also last week, we took the Tales of Engineering project to this year’s Association For Science Education (ASE) Annual Conference at Reading University. This is one of the largest Science Education Conference of its kind and we were delighted to have engaged with teachers and practitioners, showcasing how storytelling can be used to talk positively about engineering with children in EYFS.

In the meantime we are keeping ourselves busy booking more schools and cultural venues visits, so keep checking our events calendar to see if we are going to be near you!

STEM jobs at Museums Northumberland

NUSTEM have been collaborating with Museums Northumberland this year and they have two new projects starting, both of which have a number of new jobs available.

The first project, Union Chain Bridge: Crossing Borders, Inspiring Communities is an ambitious project involving the conservation of the internationally significant Union Chain Bridge, the preservation of its intangible heritage and an extensive programme of public engagement. Co-owned by two local authorities, the Union Chain Bridge is symbolic of this uniquely collaborative project that comprises a partnership between Northumberland County Council, Scottish Borders Council, Museums Northumberland with support from the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge.

As well as the conservation of the Bridge itself, Museums Northumberland will be working with schools in the area around the bridge (and on both sides of the border). NUSTEM helped Museums Northumberland plan the schools work using our model of school engagement – working with children, families and teachers over a sustained period of time, in this case 3 years.

The second project, Our Past, Your Future, was funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority STEM and Digital Programme.

Taking the long view of industry and innovation in the North of Tyne Combined Authority region and building on the skills and expertise of the delivery partners, this project will map the unique and rich STEM heritage of the area from prehistory to the modern day, with an aspirational eye to the future. Impactful, targeted school-based interventions and community-based enrichment activities, delivered by Museums Northumberland and  NUSTEM, will go some way towards redressing current imbalances by increasing science capital and building long term STEM career aspirations in our region’s young people. Again, this project builds on NUSTEM’s model of sustained engagement with children, families and teachers.

The new roles are based either in Ashington or Berwick, depending on the project.  Although they are based in museums, there is a significant STEM focus to the roles so could be of interest to a range of people.

The roles are:

  • Audience Development Manager (£42k per annum, 37 hours per week, Jan 23)
  • Digital Heritage Outreach Officer NTCA (£23k pro rata, 0.5fte, July 22)
  • Learning and Outreach Officer (STEM) (£23k per annum, 37 hours per week, July 22)
  • Learning and Outreach Officer (STEM) UCB (£23k per annum, 37 hours per week, Jan 23)
  • Learning and Outreach Officer UCB (£23k per annum, 37 hours per week, Jan 23)

There is also a Project Manager role for an external consultant:

  • Project Manager NTCA (Fee £30,000 including VAT and Expenses between Jan 2020 and August 22)

The closing date for all the jobs is 6th January 2020

For full details on all roles, and to apply, see here: https://museumsnorthumberland.org.uk/about-us/jobs-opportunities/

First conNecTed device prototypes

Our friends from the Life Science Centre visited us today, and we spent the day hacking with cardboard and servo motors to make these puppets. We’re terribly proud of them.

These are the first three prototypes of the sort of devices we’ll be making with a few hundred families across the North of Tyne region, over the next few years. Keep your eye on the conNecT project page to find out more. We’re heavily in the development phase of the project now, with workshops due to start around Easter time 2020.

We’ve lots of corners to smooth off between now and then. We’ve really struggled today to find servos in our collection which work reliably with 3.3V devices like the Kniwwelino boards we’re wanting to use. Most of our servos didn’t work with Micro:Bits, either. So we’ve some work to do with our supplier on sourcing servos we trust. Or maybe it’s the power supplies… There’s also a tonne of work remaining on the software stack to make all this easier. It does work, but it currently involves more faffing than we think is necessary: we’re planning to build some custom blocks to make puppets easier to control.

We spent much of the day, however, discussing how we want the workshops to run, and how we think families might feel about different parts of it. The project is intended to find a balance point between technology, engineering and design skills. That’s still elusive, but we’re closer to it than we were.

Also, we have flapping birds and a cat which, for much of the day, responded to ‘sad’ by just tipping itself over and refusing to get back up again. So that’s a good day’s work, we think.

NUSTEM: The year in Numbers

Kate Winter on Bloomberg

Remember when former NUSTEM staffer Dr. Kate Winter went to Antarctica to continue her research on carbon dioxide uptake in the Southern Ocean? We followed her trip here on the NUSTEM website.

Kate took some footage for news service Bloomberg, which is now out. Here she is:

2019 WISE Awards: Finalist!

NUSTEM are delighted to be recognised by the WISE Campaign as a Finalist for their 2019 Awards. We’re shortlisted in the Outreach and Engagement category, up against some outstanding individuals and another excellent university programme – the sort of company we’re more than happy to keep!

WISE say:

The awards recognise inspiring individuals and organisations who are actively working to […] achieve gender balance in STEM in the UK. With the target of 1 million women in STEM by 2020, it is critical that we highlight the hard work and successes of those who are achieving in their sector and show commitment to equality within STEM.

The Awards event will be held on 7th November. The very best of luck to our fellow nominees!

You can read more about the WISE Campaign and find out who the other Awards finalists are.

Tales of Engineering – call for volunteers

Some of our primary books

NUSTEM has been awarded a prestigious Ingenious Public Engagement Award by the Royal Academy of Engineering to support our Tales of Engineering project. The project will connect professional engineers with pre-school children and their families to share their love of Engineering.

In relaxed and friendly activity sessions, engineers and families will read an engineering-related storybook together, then take part in a simple hands-on engineering activity.

As the project gets underway, we are looking for individuals with an engineering background who are keen to develop their public engagement skills, promote their field of work, and contribute to the diversity of the engineering sector.

Volunteer engineers will contribute approximately 10 hours of their time over a period of 10 months. NUSTEM will offer support at every step, providing public engagement training, helping in the choice of a suitable book, co-creating an interactive activity, and supporting the delivery of the reading sessions in local schools and cultural spaces.

If you think you can support this project, please get in touch: email antonio.portas@northumbria.ac.uk. You’re also very welcome to attend our kick-start event: A kick-start event will take place later this month and details can be found in our events calendar.

Educate North Awards 2019

Nuffield Research Placements