STEM Technicians Festival NY637 / A18

Start date
7 Jun 19
1 Day
National STEM Learning Centre, University of York, York YO10 5DD How to find us


This festival is for all school technicians to enjoy new aspects of science, technology and engineering in an amazing environment by presenters who are passionate about their subject.  Over the day you will experience hands on workshops and listen and engage with presenters who have an expertise in their field. Also in attendance will be some fantastic scientific suppliers, who are always great to discuss and share ideas with.

Our keynote speaker is Tom McLeish FRS, Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of York Department of Physics, member of the University of York Centre for Medieval Studies and Humanities Research Centre, and Chair of the Royal Society Education Committee.  Professor McLeish's talk will be ‘technicians in medieval times’.

One of the headliners is Dr Andrea Mapplebeck, who will be creating scientific fun with 40 experiments based on a well-known cola drink. In this session technicians will be able to learn about simple but effective experiments which encourage students to look at everyday objects in a scientific way.

Presenting at the festival will be Angie Ridout, Chief Science Technician and STEM club Coordinator, who will run a session on STEM clubs activities which will help any technician who wants to create or support a STEM club in their school.

The festival will also have biology and chemistry workshops. Joanne Buckley, who has worked with the BBC, local radio and The Times, is going to do a session on Food Science and will demonstrate some weird and wonderful facts about edible chemistry. This should be useful to D&T technicians.

A variety of speakers from the University of York will be speaking about their work and how it will affect STEM subjects in the future. Engineering workshops are another focus of the festival, where technicians can learn about 3D printing and an aerodynamics workshop by Dr Nicholas M Bojdo from Manchester University.

This newly designed STEM festival, will be enjoyable, entertaining and full of STEM knowledge for everyone who attends.

It's not just workshops, not just a conference, it's a FESTIVAL!

Optional sessions

Session 2a Fizz, bang, pop:  Andrea Mapplebeck - Formative Education
Whilst driving home one day, and contemplating issues for the planet related to single use items, I began thinking how my consumption of one drink of diet coke everyday could become more sustainable. I therefore decided to set myself a challenge where I would bring together my love of physics, the planet, and my favourite tipple!
The challenge I set myself was to see if I could come up with ten practical science activities I could do with pupils where I was using either my can, bottle or liquid. Initial thoughts were then shared with my favourite 'physics co-conspirator', and after an evening of bouncing ideas around the result is the session I will be running.
Did we meet the challenge of ten activities? Are there ways you can add to our collective thinking? Why don’t you come along and join us to see how well we did and share your ideas too!

Session 2b Bananas about science:  Mary Howell, National STEM Learning Centre
Hands on fun about how you can use bananas to teach science.  This session will have lots of hands on activities, with ideas that can be used to teach biology, chemistry and physics in the curriculum, as well as enriching science club content. 
The activities will mostly use cheap, readily available materials, many of which you will already have – just add bananas.

Session 2c Wine, mushrooms and cars: Dan Roberts, Inds Education
What do wine, mushrooms and cars have in common? The answer is sensors! Modern cars are getting smarter, wine is becoming vegan friendly with the aid of sensors and mushrooms are now grown in a hi-tech way. Come and listen to some example of how sensors are used within the real world by researchers and engineers. What ideas could be brought back in to the classroom to enhance a student’s experience? There will be a raffle for those who come for a bottle of wine, mushroom and a car (matchbox style)!

Session 2d Winging it: Nicholas Bojdo, The University of Manchester
Physics, design and technology go hand in hand in this amazing workshop where you can design and build your own small scale aerodynamic wings. Once you are happy with your design you can test them and feel the sensation of lift in front of a large industrial fan.
Also in this workshop there will be a flight simulator where you can immerse yourself in a cockpit experience. This simulator is managed by University of Manchester technicians who will be there support you in this incredible experience.

Session 3a Bananas about science: Mary Howell, National STEM Learning Centre
Hands on fun about how you can use bananas to teach science.  This session will have lots of hands on activities, with ideas that can be used to teach biology, chemistry and physics in the curriculum, as well as enriching science club content. 
The activities will mostly use cheap, readily available materials, many of which you will already have – just add bananas.

Session 3b Creative Upcycling: Gillian Collins, National STEM Learning Centre
Every day we hear new stories of how our actions in this ‘throw away’ society have a devastating effect on the fragile ecosystems around the world. We need to think carefully before we put anything in the refuse – can it be recycled, upcycled or can we pass it on to someone who can make use of it.
As technicians we are very good at hoarding paraphernalia that we think might come in useful sometime in the future and in this workshop you will be given lots of ideas for making pieces of equipment from everyday unwanted materials and an opportunity to do some constructing!

Session 3c VEX IQ robots: Chris Calver, Rapid electronics
Learn to program a VEX IQ robot using Modkit - a graphical programming language which is an excellent introduction to coding
VEX IQ is a programmable robotics construction kit designed specifically for use in KS2 and KS3. Through the VEX IQ Challenge, students learn vital STEM skills in design, build, programming, teamwork and more.
In this session you’ll learn how to program basic movements, use inputs and outputs and basic programming structures such as loops and if/else statements. Program your robot to navigate through a series of obstacles and use sensors to detect various inputs.
No previous programming or robotics experience is required.

Session 3d ‘Set your heart racing (well, flying)’: Nicholas Bojdo, The University of Manchester
Do you still do the paper helicopters and paper clips at school? Well, lets bump it up a little with an awesome STEM activity where you will make a foam heart shape glide through the air with a correctly placed washer.

Session 4a For the love of STEM clubs!: Angie Ridout, Dagaham School, London
Angie is the Chief Technician and Stem Coordinator and has been involved in and run STEM clubs at Dagenham Park Church of England School for about 7 years now. Her passion to outreach students in both her own and 4 primary schools shines through in her workshops. Her 3 x 30 place clubs have waiting lists and have between 50 and 80 applicants each year.
Come along to her session to hear about how to start, run and implement a STEM club and how to start a club scheme of work. This is a hands on session with lots of ideas for activities for you to use and there will be some to take away too.

Session 4b Edible Experiments - a Taste of Chemistry: Dr. Joanna Buckley, The University of Sheffield
I first became interested in food chemistry when a batch of fudge I had prepared tasted spectacularly unpleasant, so I set about investigating what went wrong by applying my background in analytical chemistry to the problem. Since then, I've devised ‘Edible Experiments’ - a series of food experiments that explore the chemistry behind certain foods or why two foods interact with surprising results. During the workshop, I'll share my passion for food chemistry and answer some significantly silly food-based questions that have kept me awake at night. Prepare your taste buds for some surprising science!

Session 4c The science of brewing beer: Lee Grabham, BrewYork
Lee who is the co-founder of BrewYork will be presenting a workshop on the processes and manufacturing aspects of brewing beer. This is an all- encompassing science subject with biology and chemistry at the forefront. Throughout the presentation you will be able to sample some of BrewYork’s basic ingredients along with the result – beer.

Session 4d The chemistry of fireworks: Mark Langley and Tim Bradbury, National STEM Learning Centre
Fireworks lighting up the night sky is a most impressive sight, and one we likely all remember from our childhood. BUT… Have you ever wondered what sparklers are made of or how the components of fireworks react in order to produce their eye catching display?
 ‘The Chemistry of Fireworks’ will explore the fabulous array of colours that can be produced from the combustion of metal salts and a variety of methods these can be shown in a school laboratory either by class participation activities or via teacher/technician demonstration.  We shall also be discussing what procedures CAN and CANNOT be undertaken in schools following the introduction of ‘The Explosives Regulations 2014’ and how we can conduct these traditional demonstrations safely and within the bounds of the law.

Session 4e Micropropagation: Richard Fenwick, Plantletculture
A workshop for you biologists. Let’s take a look at micropropagation as used in industry, basically a big scale alternative to the cauliflower cloning protocol.
You will get to meet Richard who has extended the cloning protocol into industry, ask him questions and carry out Plantleculture’s procedure of growing peas and over the next few days, back at school, you can observe the roots, stems and leaves growing in a colourful nutrient rich gel.  Once mature the test tube plant can be grown outside, potted into compost and developed into a full-size plant.
The Plantlet Culture kit is designed to germinate Garden Pea seeds, all within a 9cm x 2cm test tube.   We have added a ‘growing scale’ to each of the tubes this allows measurements [cm’s] to be taken while the stems, leaves & roots are growing in the tube.  


You will be able to:

  • experience technician skills to complement your own
  • gain knowledge through science presenters
  • take back to school concepts of relevant scientific theories which can relate to teachers and students


STEM Technicians Festival07 June 201909:30-16:00National STEM Learning Centre

Share with your CPD booker

Additional information

For courses at the National STEM Learning Centre in York, fees include meals and accommodation for the duration of the course. 


Alternative dates

Interested in this course?

Sign up to receive our emails to hear about the latest CPD available