TeenTech work carefully with schools and companies delivering high quality initiatives for long term, large scale impact. We want to inspire individual students but our work goes much deeper – helping schools change their approach to science and technology and giving teachers and leadership teams confidence to develop powerful strategies to help students understand emerging career opportunities and why they might very much enjoy being part of that world. As one teacher remarked, “TeenTech has helped me remember why I went into teaching in the first place”.
This is a case study showing how our platform and initiatives have been used to change thinking through an entire school.
When did Alton Convent School become involved in TeenTech?
We discovered TeenTech as a school three years ago; the exponential impact has been absolutely remarkable.In short, TeenTech enabled our students to experience for themselves the creative and cross curricular relevance of science and technology for their future careers. Further to this TeenTech provided a powerful framework to build mutually beneficial relationships with other schools and businesses and to open the eyes of all to the exciting plethora of possibilities in tomorrow’s world.
What has participation enabled you to achieve for your school and students?
The school is now proud to have earnt the right to be a TeenTech Centre of Innovation and Creativity, and for our students to be recognised for their own inspirational contribution through the TeenTech Ambassadors programme and the BBC Radio 1 Teen Heroes Award. We are thrilled to extend our links within the local community, to feeder and local secondary schools, as well as internationally through existing and new partner institutions. There is an excitement about science and technology which pervades the school.
Why did Alton Convent School become involved with the TeenTech programme?
We identified TeenTech as a programme of choice to deliver on our inaugural science, technology and engineering outreach strategy.
Our objectives were as follows:
To increase awareness of the diverse and rewarding career pathways
To create an interest in and excitement about science and engineering across the school.
To dispel gender stereotypes
We carefully analysed the latest market research on the key drivers and influencers for students when career decisions are made, and their common misconceptions about the tech sector. We were then able to overlay this information on the programmes available, to formulate a simple, focused and sustainable strategy to:
Further develop relationships with enthusiastic and proactive expert partners within the sector to bring the ‘real world’ into school.
Raise the profile and recognition opportunities for science and technology.
Develop a holistic science and engineering education programme – multi-tiered, segmented, and mutually influencing for parents, staff (beyond science), careers office and students.
We were able to achieve all this, and more through TeenTech.
What have been the principal benefits for your students?
There has been a myriad of benefits for our students, and the others that they have impacted. Through TeenTech our pupils have relished the enhanced opportunities to:
Develop soft skills much in demand by employers
Speak to businesses on an equal footing, about their idea or invention. The growth in their confidence has been marked.
To evidence genuine enthusiasm for engineering with TeenTech projects – one of the first cohort of TeenTech students was awarded an Arkwright scholarship as a result of participation.
To network with their peers from other schools, within a community excited about science and technology.
To build relationships with employers in the TeenTech mentor network
Gain a practical insight into the range of job functions within a technology/engineering organisation – for example one student is now looking at R&D, another engineering and another communications.
Students developed a passion and drive to inspire others just as had been inspired themselves, speaking to younger pupils, feeder schools and schools internationally. They received formal recognition for this as TeenTech Ambassadors.
…and your wider school and staff?
Again, there were a number of inter-related benefits, and opportunities created through TeenTech. The programme was incredibly effective in bringing the real world, and real life skills into the classroom. TeenTech also enhanced the career understanding for staff, as they were exposed to the latest opportunities and pathways. Close and mutually beneficial relationships were established with local businesses. As I previously mentioned TeenTech has provided a framework to work with other schools locally and internationally. The programme also put the school on the map, with recognition as a TeenTech Centre of Innovation and Creativity (Gold).
TeenTech is an immensely powerful and meaningful way to deliver work experience, as the students are engaging with real professionals from the sector and in a sense operating as a microbusiness. This is an invaluable precursor to ‘traditional’ work experience developing student and teacher knowledge of the current and emerging opportunities.
The programme complements the traditional academic approach of the classroom. Participants are judged on real life skills, collaboration, creativity, communication, tenacity and come from a diverse range of backgrounds. There is a palpable buzz when the students come together.
TeenTech has even supported us to dispel stereotypes before they are formed with our youngest of students (aged 3 and 4) and our older children. This was exemplified when a 10 Year old boy, listening to three girls sharing their experience asked ‘Can boys do this too?’.
What are your future plans?
TeenTech is all about collaboration, and the possibilities only grow. It has truly been a transformative experience for all involved. The word inspirational can often be overused, but is so often appropriate in the context of all the students, teachers and industry professionals that the school has met and worked with through TeenTech. We are really appreciative of the opportunities that it has created for Alton Convent School and our students. TeenTech has undoubtedly played a pivotal role in preparing our students to become global citizens of the 21st Century. Thank you!
Feedback from some of our students
‘TeenTech has given me the opportunity to think differently and creatively to solve the problems we face today with science and technology. I have gained so much confidence and experience. I have collaborated with people at the top of their fields. This has enabled me to narrow down the career I would like to pursue in the future. TeenTech Ambassadors in the year above me were examples of the fact that STEM isn’t old and boring but current and innovative. I was given the opportunity to share my story with 150 Year 8 and 9 students at Winchester Science Centre on International Women’s Day, as well as my old school Chiltern Tutorial, a specialist Dyslexia school in Otterbourne – I wanted to give them the confidence that they can do anything with hard work and self belief.’
Alex Gyford, Year 11, Alton Convent School
TeenTech Awards Winner Wearable Technology 2016
‘Prior to TeenTech I had an interest in forensic science, but had considered a number of career possibilities including criminology. TeenTech cemented my commitment to science, and to engineering in particular. It opened my eyes to a world of incredible opportunities and undoubtedly changed my future’.
Lauren Shea, Sixth Form, Alton Convent School
TeenTech Award – People’s Choice 2015 (team of 3)
BBC Radio 1 Make it Digital Teen Hero
Arkwright Scholar 2016
Year 6 Feedback
Year 6 students from Alton Convent School were keen to share their thoughts on their TeenTech City of Tomorrow experience, as the part of the first wave of students to participate from their school. Luke, James and Alex spoke animatedly about their realisation that cities could be designed from an eco-friendly perspective and they found the emphasis on incorporating nature into their building designs, for example by using solar-panels to capture the sun and harnessing the power of plants for landscaping and absorbing carbon emissions really new and exciting.
Amelia commented ‘The TeenTech City of Tomorrow experience has taught me that engineering covers a much broader spectrum of areas than I had realised before’.
Cadi added ‘I was impressed by the emphasis on using forces, not ‘glue’, to stick things together when creating a futuristic building’.
Both the girls and boys enjoyed the collaborative element of working in a group which they felt really enhanced the building they were able to design.
In conclusion Amelia summed up the experience as “brilliant and inspirational and so much fun”!.