We can only run these events through co-operation with the Teaching and Engineering communities. That’s why we want to share our plan of action in the run up to the first set of events in March 2012. The plan is not comprehensive so please ask any questions in the comments section and we’ll try to answer them in future news posts.
The action plan breaks down into five main sections: Planning, Recruitment, Event, Evaluation, Sustainability.
Planning – October/November
1. Zone Selection
The first thing we need to do is define the event. We will be running six zones in March. All will be themed. That means the engineers in those zones will need to have some connection to the theme. For example in the Transport Zone we could have engineers building oil pipelines, marine engineers in shipbuilding, or software engineers working on flight systems. It’s fairly general. A nuclear power zone might involve a geotechnical uranium mining engineer, a civil engineer assessing potential sites for nuclear power stations or a ventilation engineer installing systems to keep the control systems cool. Fairly specific. There is more detail on our Zone Selection page.
We need your help in defining the event. What zones and engineers do you think we should have? We’re asking teachers to help us but we also want advice from the engineering sector to help define the event. Please visit the Zone Selection page and leave a comment or email us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We also need to finalise the design for the website and teaching. We have the basic design covered to fit in with our portfolio of events but it is sometimes the small details like the icons for zones and the banner (currently blank) at the top of this page. How should we visually represent engineering to the 2,000 students who’ll visit the site in March? Please head over to the Design page to leave us some comments.
We don’t want to do this alone. We can’t. We need to work organisations and institutes who can promote the event to their members, who can advise us on what is working and what is not. Already the Design and Technology Association and the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics have agreed to promote the event to their teachers. Bloodhound SSC and the IET have already provided some excellent advice. They all appear on our partners page. Who else do you think we need to get involved? Please email us at email@example.com if you or your organisation would like to get involved or if you can suggest someone to whom we should be talking.
Recruitment – November/December
We need up to 100 teachers to take part in March. We would like a third to be D&T teachers, a third Maths and the final third to be science teachers. DATA and NCETM are helping to find D&T and Maths teachers. We’ll promote to our lists of science teachers, but as always we want to also reach out to teachers who’ve not yet discovered the delights of our events. We’re hoping that subject co-ordinators and STEM Contract holders will spread the word in their areas, but if you have suggestions, particularly for reaching D&T and Maths teachers then please let us know in the comments or via email. Teachers can get more information on the Teachers page and register their interest over here.
We’re in the process of writing to 36 Engineering Institutes and related organisations (you may be reading this because you’ve just received one of our emails). We’re hoping that they’ll promote the event to their members. We’ll also ask the engineers who’ve taken part in the past to pass on information to their colleagues. Personal recommendation is the most effective means of communication. What other routes should we be trying? There is more information for engineers and a page to register their interest in taking part.
Event – March 2012
The event runs from 12th – 23rd March 2012. In January we’ll let teachers know that we’ve got places for them and send them Teacher Packs. Engineers will have to wait until early February. The site will be available for them to write their profiles shortly afterwards. February 27th will see the site live for teachers and students to start reading the profiles and preparing for the main event.
Evaluation – February – April 2012
We are doing formative evaluation throughout the project. This article about the event is part of that process. We want your views and we intend to act upon them. That’s formative evaluation. The more formal type of evaluation, summative, starts in earnest in February. We’ll be asking participants for their views before the events starts, observing the event in action in the classroom and surveying views after the event has finished. One of the benefits of running an online event is that we collect an enormous amount of data about how students and engineers engage with the event. We’ll know how many students asked questions, how many they asked, how much they participated in live chats. We’ll be able to tell the engineers how many students they’ve reached, how many questions they’ve answered and whether they’ve changed the attitudes of those students.
That’s our plan, but what’s the point of evaluation is no-one reads and learns from what you’ve done. We’re genuinely interested in hearing what measures you’d like to see. What is it you want to see in an evaluation? Leave us a comment or email.
Sustainability – 2012
This March is a bit of a pilot. We don’t know for sure if there is an appetite for an engineering equivalent of I’m a Scientist, but the initial signs are good. At the risk of prejudicing the evaluation I think we’ll find in April 2012 that students, teachers and the engineers all got a lot out of taking part. We’ll want the event to continue beyond this first event which The Royal Academy of Engineering are funding through the Ingenious Awards scheme.
We will need to find alternative sources of funding for the project. With I’m a Scientist we’ve got sponsorship from the Institute of Physics, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Nelson Thornes, the educational publisher and the RCUK. We’re also very happy to have the STFC sponsor a zone in I’m an Engineer to highlight some of the work that engineers do to make their facilities work.
We’ll need more sponsors in the future, so please, if you or your organisation are interested in sponsoring a zone please do get in contact.