Inspired by a fourth year undergraduate project by Chris Cleaver in 2007/8 on Eco Footprinting in Schools, Professor Peter Guthrie FREng (Professor of Engineering for Sustainable Development), hosted two Year 11 (16-17 year old) school students for four weeks over the summer. The students, Steph Jezewski and Natosha Kilby, were given the task of expanding the teaching resources about Carbon Footprinting that they used in their school, and create new resources suitable for primary schools. They have developed resources for both Infant and Junior Primary schools. They then pilot tested the resources in two local primary schools in September.
The student placements were organised and funded by The Nuffield Foundation' Nuffield Science Bursaries. The Foundation offer bursaries to first year post-16 science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) students, up to 1000 funded places a year, so that students across the UK can get an insight into the world of scientific research and development, including areas of technology, engineering and maths. Through the scheme, students take part in STEM based projects, lasting 4-6 weeks, in universities, industry or research institutions during the summer holidays. Students work alongside practising scientists, technologist, engineers and mathematicians.
Peter and his team were most impressed by the students work and believe that it could form the basis of a widely adopted national schools scheme for (a) improving environmental performance at schools and (b) raising the awareness of the importance of engineering in solving many of our environmental problems. The 'resource packs' they have created are very attractive and attention-grabbing.
The students presented their resource packs to some engineers in the Department. Following the positive feedback that this received the students have sent a DVD of their presentation to the Royal Academy of Engineering to see if it is something they would like to take further. The students had a presentation evening with all the other Nuffield Science Bursary Students in October and hope to enter their project for a Gold CREST (CREativity in Science and Technology) Award. This is a nationally recognised scheme to reward Science & Technology project work. Peter said "What was particularly good about this project is that the students did such excellent work largely unsupervised and they managed to produce a huge amount of work that impressed everyone. They are not planning on being engineers in the future so they had a completely different outlook on tackling the subject. One of the highlights was that they created two stories for the infant age children, this was a fantastic idea and really impressed all the staff here. Many wanted a copy there and then." The students were supported in their time in the Centre for Sustainable Development by Victoria Hickman (PhD student) and Bethanie Wattleworth (Engineering Undergraduate).