Today I attended day one of the iWish event being held at CIT. Myself and fellow PhD student Sarah will attend the event for the week. We will be responsible for attending the many different talks and workshops to take pictures and we also want to attend so that we can see first hand how these type of events are ran and organised. Throughout the course of the week, I hope to informally talk to students and STEM experts about their attitudes towards STEM; what made them attend the iWish event, what do they enjoy most about the event and what improvements could be made going forward. This information may provide useful insights into the area of STEM and secondary school students and in particular women and STEM.

I also plan to take observational notes from each of the workshops I attend, observing the activities the students partake in, the setting the workshops take place in, how the students interact as a group, what they say to each other as they interact, how much help or information is provided by the lecturer/facilitator etc.

The 80 students participating were divided up into four groups of 20 and they took it in turns to complete each workshop. I would like to know whether the students were divided up by

The workshops I attended today included the following – surveying, the marshmallow challenge, bridge engineering and civil structural engineering. I also attended a talk from a current bridge engineer working in Copenhagan, Anne Maloney and another talk from John Barrett in the NIMBUS centre on the topic of Internet of Things.

Surveying Workshop

  • outdoors
  • measuring angles
  • more interactive than the other workshops
  • students were divided into four groups of 5 and the lecturer demonstrated what they were to do. Each group received a clip board with a worksheet informing them of the tasks they had to complete
  • The students were seen interacting with the equipment and every student was actively seen interacting with their fellow group members and taking part in the task
  • The students looked a lot happier as they learned by actively taking part in the task
  • The workshop involved 20 students, a lecturer and a facilitator

Civil Structural Engineering Workshop

  • classroom + lecturer/teacher setting
  • each student had a computer where they interacted with a 3D environment of Cork
  • changing the speed of wind turbines, move them around, simulations
  • individual based activity
  • the students were told what to do by the lecturer and then they could complete the next step involved
  • very little chatting or verbal interaction from the students compared to the surveying workshop
  • the students shadowed the lecturer

The Marshmallow Challenge – Structural Engineering

  • Build the tallest structure using 20 strands of spagetti, cellotape, string and the marshmallow had to be placed on top of the structure at the end
  • class divided into 4 groups of 5 (was supposed to be 5 groups of 4)
  • the groups had 20 minutes to complete the challenge
  • this workshop also had a lecturer and a facilitator
  • the students were provided with a very short introduction and the only guidance they were provided with was to start by building a triangular base
  • it could be seen that 2-3 girls in each group were actively involved in building the structure. One group divided into 2 to form a sub group and they then came together at the end to combine their structures and it actually turned out to be the most successful
  • the tables the groups at may have made a difference. The tables were square so the group would have had to spread out so that everyone was involved (one group did this) the group who sat around the corner of the table looked to have the most members actively involved at one time (it was nearest any group got to forming a circle)
  • as the workshop went on, the groups could be seen talking more and 3 groups were standing up by the end of the task
  • the group with the tallest structure at the end of the day would receive a prize

Bridge Engineering:

  • this was in the form of a lecture where the students were due to receive a pop-quiz at the end but they ran out of time
  • little or no interaction with students
  • very formal and perhaps intimidating for the students as it was very like a first year college lecture
  • some students could be visably seen zoning out
  • wasn’t interactive enough

I look forward to attending more workshops tomorrow and hopoefully interacting with the students and STEM experts more, asking questions etc.

 

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