Mr. Kirkland, Mrs. Peake, and Mr. Reynolds. I’m sure there were others, but these three people, in particular, did wonders at inspiring me to be the teacher I am today. Mr. Kirkland and Mrs. Peake, my maths and physics teachers and they showed me ways to apply my understanding and venture into the world of engineering at a degree level.
Mr. Reynolds did something different. He showed me how to go past the barriers of gender, stereotype and encouraged me to find the value in engineering in more practical ways. He was my design technology teacher.
I joined The Gilberd School in September 2014 as a resistant materials/electronics teacher. ‘STEM’ was one of my targets within the technology department and slowly over my first year at the school, we’ve seen some amazing things taking place. What was once a one-person job in my previous school is now a united front of teachers from all STEM areas in my new school.
It makes such a difference to what we are trying to do as a school, to push through some barriers to work as a team, and show our students that these subjects MUST work together to make the world work. Teachers from science, maths, technology, computing, and health and social care, meet regularly and have a calendar of events to raise the profile of STEM to our students (article continues below image…).
We have adopted Thursday night as STEM night and students of all years come and do a variety of activities to apply their understanding from their curriculum and get stuck in. It’s always a busy time of the week, but the word people generally use when they pop in to see what’s going on is ‘buzzing’. The students are actively engaged, learning, challenging themselves, making new friends, and above all, having fun.
We have a variety of STEM activities on offer at The Gilberd. We offer VEX EDR, VEX IQ, Lego Mindstorm, Lego Technics, Dyson Challenges, Colchester Zoo Feeder project, Green Power Formula24, Raspberry Pi with Minecraft, Python programming, Kodu, Dreamweaver HTML Web Design, and Scratch coding – all on a Thursday night. We have also joined projects and trips with Rallysports, Morgan Sindall Eco House Project, Delphi Wind Buggy Challenge, the Bloodhound SSC challenge and work with some fantastic ambassadors from Ford, Bloodhound, Siemens, Delphi, and ex-students.
We have worked hard this year to develop STEM excellence and make an impact on what opportunities we can offer our students, often enlightening those who have not yet understood the STEM importance and seeing a difference in their take on it. Working as a team certainly helps. I’ve heard it said that in the next 5 years over half of our engineering workforce will be of retirement age and as a country, we are not training up enough graduates to fill those jobs.
My job as a teacher is to make that difference and push through those barriers, creating those opportunities, just like my own DT teacher did for me.
This article (by Beverly Maloney) was originally published in the November 2015 Edition of our UKEdMagazine
Over the last 8 years, Beverly has taken on projects as a Design Technology teacher that have allowed students to come face to face with real life and engaging opportunities to see STEM in action. As a previous HOD in a London borough school, a STEM coordinator, she is now in a role with an aim to gain a standard of excellence at The Gilberd. Follow @gilberdstem on Twitter to discover more.