Westcountry women working with water

Project funder

Royal Academy of Engineering - Ingenious (public engagement award)

Project lead

Dr Sarah Ward (UWE Bristol)

Project team

Project start date

June 2018

Research partners/collaborators

  • Westcountry Rivers Trust
  • University of Exeter
  • Over the Air Analytics

Project summary

Through workshopping, co-designing and co-delivering sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) and alternative water supplies (AWS) with schools in deprived areas of Taunton, this project engaged an audience of 70% girls and women with water issues and the contribution of engineering to water management. Engineers and public engagement professionals participating in the project reflected on the approaches used and to use when aiming to engage children in activities relating to complex topics orientated around living with environmental change, as well as how to frame STEM subjects to a new generation of hydrocitizens and potential engineers of the future. Read more about this via the Somerset SPONGE website.

Project outcomes

Key findings from the project include:

  • Key Stage 1 children (7-9 years) love to engage in activities using water, soil, sand and gravel
  • These activities act as a connector across the curriculum, theory and practice in relation to living with environmental change, particularly flooding and sustainable drainage systems.
  • It is important to position children as ‘engineers’ or ‘geographers’ of the future to help explore potential career roles from an early age.

Key outputs

  • Final project report and evaluation for the RAE
  • Conference paper 'Towards water resilient communities: Framing children as future ‘urban drainage engineers' (Water Efficiency Network Conference 2020)
  • Set of workshop session plans: ‘Raingauge to rain garden’
  • An activity pack (included within the Teacher’s Guide for the DRY storybook)
  • ‘Sustainable Drainage Top Trumps’

For further information on the project, please contact Dr Sarah Ward.

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