Four teams of six year 9 students, each representing a different Milton Keynes school competed on the day to build two successful rockets 2 litre plastic bottles and simple craft materials.
I was working on the competition as one of the organisers, working with a team that included: Richard Holliman, Ben Dryer, Vic Pearson, and Diane Ford from the Open University, Mark Russell and Val Hawthorne from Denbigh Teaching School, and Jessica Carr who was working as an intern.
In this post Andy Squires (Director of Denbigh Teaching School) and Helen Brown (Assistant Headteacher - Denbigh Teaching School) talk about partnering with the Open University on their SUPI Project: 'Engaging Opportunities’.
It was with great enthusiasm that we partnered with the Open University to submit our Engaging Opportunities SUPI project bid, some 21 months ago, and we have accomplished so much in this time.
Students from Walton High, a school in Milton Keynes, have been finding out that the sky is definitely not the limit when it comes to research at The Open University (OU).
In late July, as part of their digital media production course, ten BTEC students visited the OU campus to find out more about its work on Europe’s comet-chasing spacecraft Rosetta – the world’s first mission to land on a comet.
When I got an email from Richard Holliman about an Open University (OU) media skills training course, it took me all of 30 seconds to double-check with my PhD supervisor and sign up. I’d previously attended a one-day event with the Royal Society, and was keen for a more in-depth course. I had no idea what to expect, but was excited to hear that the aim of the course would be to build up the skills needed to design, produce and edit a short film.
From the 2nd to 6th June I worked with fellow OU PhD students Frazer Bird, Jamie Dorey, Hnin Myint, and Phillipa Smith, under the expert guidance of presenter Janet Sumner, cinematographer Gerard Giorgi-Coll and Assistant Producer Tom Ryan to create a short film about a collaborative research project between the OU and the Field Studies Council (FSC), an environmental education charity that provides opportunities for people of all ages to engage in fieldwork. You can watch the results of our efforts by selecting the video below.
Leadership; Mission; Communication
Champion’s blog; star date 2014.03.10 (in effect, an update on the first post on this blog, 'An open research university').
Nearly two years of the mission completed; 14 months of funding left. "Where do we boldly go from here?"
I was interviewed late last year by Lucian Hudson, the OU's Director of Communications, to explore this question. We also discussed progress with the core mission of the OU's Public Engagement with Research Catalyst.
You can see the results of our discussion in the video below. If you'd prefer to read the text of the interview, select transcript.
A day in the life of a field geologist
Earth Scientists like me study the Earth: how it formed, how it changed over geological time, and how all the different ‘bits’ such as the atmosphere, oceans, soil and rocks interact with each other.
In detail, I’m a geologist – I specifically try to understand the rocks beneath our feet. And in even more detail, I’m a field geologist. Nothing excites me more than the prospect of getting to spend weeks in a tent up a remote mountain somewhere (although preferably not in the rain), collecting rock samples for analysis back in the lab.
I am a palaeoecologist at the Open University. My research involves reconstructing how our planet has changed over longer time scales in the past (1-2 million years). At first glance my research does not seem entirely relevant to current climate change but in fact it is integral. The climate system is hugely complicated and we still don’t fully understand how all the aspects work or how they interact together. One way of learning how the system operates is to simply observe it. The longer you observe it; then the better you will understand how it works and what are the possibilities for how it may change.
Engaging opportunties: Water rocket competition
In July 2013 five teams of six Year 9 students and one team of six Year 10 students from Slated Row Special School competed in a competition to launch water rockets. The teams, representing five schools from Milton Keynes, were judged on the distance the rockets flew, whether they could successful land an egg, and the design of their rockets.
The teams were supported on the day of the competition by Open University researchers, staff from Denbigh School and teachers from their home schools. The organising team included: Richard Holliman, Mike Bullivant, Vic Pearson, Kris Stutchbury, Peter Taylor, Mike Batham and me from the OU, and Andy Squires and Val Hawthorne from Denbigh School.
A panel of judges, including the Mayor of Milton Keynes Brian White and Professor Peter Taylor from the OU, assessed the entries. The team from Milton Keynes Academy were the winners, launching their rocket over 90m. They received a trophy, which was designed at Denbigh School. All the competitors received a replica of this trophy in the form of a key ring.
As Project Manager for the project I was responsible for the organisation from the Open University side of things, working closely with Val Hawthorne from Denbigh School.
Public engagement with research has come a long way since 2000. The pace of change has quickened significantly following the establishment of the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), the completion of the Beacons for Public Engagement programme, the embedding of research impact within Research Council grant applications and the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), and the 2010 publication of the RCUK’s Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research.
Whilst each of these developments was significant, the publication of the RCUK Concordat three years ago was a watershed. In effect, its four principles were a mandate for embedding public engagement within the UK’s research culture. To celebrate the third anniversary of the Concordat's publication RCUK have published another booklet called Inspiration to Engage. ...continue reading →