TeenTech – Inspiring Tomorrow’s Innovators
TeenTech* is a lively one-day event that aims to change perceptions of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) careers amongst teenagers and their teachers and acts as a catalyst to encourage industry effort in engaging young people. Working alongside regional partners we ensure the event has relevance to specific needs of a region that schools in disadvantaged areas can be targeted and that learning and inspiration continues after the day in a co-ordinated fashion.
Maggie Philbin set up TeenTech in 2008 to help the “X Factor” generation understand their true potential and get a hold on the real opportunities in the contemporary STEM workplace. Supported by co-founder, Chris Dodson, Chairman of the IoD for the South, she worked with key players in technology, business and education in the Thames Valley to create a lively but focused event that worked in the interests of both students and industry. Events have run since 2008, to resoundingly positive feedback: 100% schools and 100% businesses saying they want to work with TeenTech again in 2012. The event has won national and regional awards including Best Engineering Event in Science and Technology Week.
What happens at TeenTech?
Every event brings 300 Y8/ Y9 students from 30 schools together with engineers, scientists and technologists from both global and start–up companies, all keen to help students and their teachers understand what’s really needed in the contemporary workplace. Students and teachers try their hand at experiments, handle leading edge technology and, most importantly see how the right skills turn you into a creator rather than a consumer of technology.
It’s a powerful intervention just before students make GCSE subject choices, dispelling gender stereotypes and shifting perceptions of careers teenagers may have considered “difficult”, “geeky” or “boring”. The event is lively but very carefully organised. Students move in small groups, led by an industry “Ambassador” through the Innovation Zone, Insight Exhibition and Challenge Zones where companies provide 15min and 30min hands-on activities to showcase their technology, the career opportunities and the skills needed to take advantage of them.
TeenTech support all their exhibitors, helping them understand how to create and develop strong, focussed activities which really engage the students and their teachers. By highlighting different entry levels, including those for apprentices and technicians as well as graduates, they encourage young people of all abilities.
Coming to TeenTech
TeenTech invite every school in a region to send ten Yr 8 or Yr 9 students. They do not charge students but there is a modest booking fee to schools for each group.
What teenagers and teachers say about TeenTech
“I am going to tear up lesson plans as a result of what I’ve seen”. Teacher.
“I always thought scientists were quite tall with glasses and boring. And old. And usually men. But here they’re so full of life and funny” Lisa, 12.
“I really enjoyed being allowed to be creative and think for myself and come up with my own ideas. I do have a tendency to take things apart and my Dad gets a bit cross about that normally” Ollie, 12.
“ Not only did the students enjoy the day and come away enthused but so did I. It was great for getting to know about cutting edge technology and I have been inspired to develop new projects based on what I saw. Living in isolation in a school makes it difficult to keep up to date – I’m sending my 2nd in department next year” Teacher.
“The live survey on how little understanding about STEM careers the students have was an eye opener. Makes us realise how much work we have to do to change this” Teacher.
“A great day and a really necessary event. Particularly for our girls, as we need more girls in science and technology” Teacher.
*TeenTech® is a registered trademark of TeenTech CIC