Only a small proportion of students at Cornelius Vermuyden School aspire to go to university or move out of the local area, and many don’t see the point in what they study in school. Lucy tells us how their involvement in I’m an Engineer helped them see the importance of maths and broaden their horizons.
Why apply for I’m an Engineer
Many of Lucy’s students don’t see the relevance of maths, and engaging and motivating them can be challenging: “Some have very low aspirations, so convincing them they need a pass in maths for their future — let alone showing them how the maths content relates to their lives — can be difficult.”
Lucy wanted to give her students an awareness of careers and what engineers actually do to open their minds. “I really wanted to broaden horizons from their tunnel vision and, often insular, island mentality.”
What did students do?
Lucy introduced her class to the I’m an Engineer website and set them homework to log in, research the engineers and come up with some questions they could ask. After some preparation, they took part in an online live chat with engineers, having a two-way conversation in real time. Following their live chat lesson, Lucy kept students engaged throughout the two-weeks of I’m an Engineer by looking at the site for a few minutes at the end of their lessons.
Showing students the relevance of curriculum content
Through I’m an Engineer, Lucy gained real, tangible examples to show her students the application of the maths they are learning. These examples and links with the engineers’ projects helped students appreciate the relevance and value of maths. “When teaching about drawing or using compasses, I can now say ‘that engineer had to design the robotic hand before they made it and getting the proportions correct would have been very important.’ This is helpful in engaging students in the maths we learn.”
Raising aspirations and broadening horizons
Lucy was surprised at how much the students engaged with each engineer’s area of work and how this fed into their own career plans. “They were really interested in the different projects the engineers were working on — they started to think about what they wanted to do in the future and wanted to find out more.”
Lucy’s students now have a much broader understanding of what engineers do. “At the start, lots of them thought engineers were people who fixed lifts or cars, but they’ve broadened their views about what engineering jobs can involve. Many students are now interested in what they could do or build as an engineer.”
To show your students the relevance of their learning through I’m a Scientist and I’m an Engineer activities, register your interest at imascientist.org.uk/teachers and imanengineer.org.uk/teachers, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Already registered? Don’t forget to apply for the next event – we email registered teachers when applications open (about 2 months before the event starts).