Tuesday, 27 March 2012


Teams from 8 Surrey schools have spent the past 6 months working on an interactive challenge set by Staines-based technology company NDS.  The brief was to imagine they had been commissioned by a broadcaster to keep viewers engaged in TV programmes by creating exciting apps for smart phones, iPad, PC, website or even a Red Button on the TV itself! NDS staff were allocated to each team as mentors and visited the schools to support and give direction to the students.

The teams could imagine they were using NDS technologies to help them, or come up with their own ideas –– the important thing was to produce an idea which would appeal to broadcast professionals. The final part of the challenge was a 5 minute presentation to the judges, in the impressive setting of Spelthorne Council Chamber. The judges then visited the team stands where the students explained how they had thought up and developed their ideas and answered questions, backed up by models, posters and role play. The students came up with a wonderful range of ideas from exercise apps to foreign translation apps and manipulating advertisements and music playing apps – truly creative!

The eventual winners of the £300 Prize were Blenheim High School with their app ‘HEAD ON’. This app allows viewers to replace the head of an actor they are watching with their own and really enter in to the drama.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A glittering Finale

Mark Hammond, one of our fantastic 43 Nuffield Bursary students from 2011 got to the Big Bang Final along with 2 of our other Nuffield students from last year Charlotte Burton and Jennifer Wallin. Mark's work on Ozone Monitoring has been showcased for three days at the Big Bang Science fair at the Birmingham NEC.  Mark won two prizes. The Institute of Physics Prize of £500 for the best Physics project. Even more excitingly, he has also won a trip to the United States and will be representing Great Britain in the International Science and Engineering Fair. Congratulations from all at SATRO! What a wonderful achievement!!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Inspired by Apollo Moon Landings

Our next inspiring volunteer for National Engineering and Science week is Janet Preston, Director of Cold Fuzion Associates Limited, a business consultancy that specialises in Programme Project Management and Business Performance improvement.
Janet first got interested in science during the Apollo Moon Landings in the 1960’s her father knew someone who worked at NASA who sent Janet a press pack and a letter - on NASA headed paper! Janet still has this prized possession today.  She was so inspired she knew she wanted to be involved in science, and she went on to study Physics at University.
Whilst Janet didn’t pursue a scientific career she uses the scientific disciplines and logical thought processes she learned during her degree. She says “You could say career wise I’m a business women, but in my heart and soul I’m a physicist!”
When volunteering for SATRO Janet has been involved with “careers speed dating” and running workshops in CV writing and interview skills.
The best bit about working with SATRO is being able to give something back and pass on lessons she’s learnt during her working life – things that Janet wishes she knew when she was still at school and University. “There are so many opportunities for young people in the workplace and I enjoy contributing to them finding their way to a successful career.”

A nail biting Final - Problem Solving Challenge 2012

Schools from across Surrey and South London took part this week in a nail-biting final of the annual Problem Solving Challenge, organised by local education charity SATRO.

Thirty teams pitted their wits against each other in this year’s Olympic-themed Final which was held at Charterhouse School, Godalming. Each team of young people aged between 11 - 19 had a bag of materials and 90 minutes to devise a fencing mask with a sword that lights up with one flick on the target. The teams who reached the final had taken part in the grueling regional heats last month involving 69 schools from across the region.

Chief Executive of SATRO, Dr Rebecca Bowden, said, “Schools return to this event year after year. Pupils and their teachers tell us how worthwhile it is in demonstrating understanding of Science and Maths in fun and practical ways. It also helps students understand the importance of teamwork and creativity in science. I urge any organisations that want us to help inspire the scientists and engineers of the future to consider becoming involved by sponsorship, or volunteering.”

Cash prizes for the winning schools this year went to; Trinity School for the aged 11-14 category, with Reigate Grammar School as runners up; Royal Grammar School won the aged 15-16 category with Royal Russell School as runners up and St Paul’s Catholic College won the sixth form prize with More House School as runners up.

A special prize for the highest score at this year’s heats also went to the sixth form team from More House School.

The judges are volunteers who are all experienced scientists and engineers – this year they represented companies from all over the region including QinetiQ, Willmott Dixon, Air Products, Gratte Brothers, Petrofac, Atkins and Frazer-Nash.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

National Science and Engineering week - Meeting with the royals

Our next superstar volunteer is Gordon Bell, who works for Willmot Dixon as a Senior Systems Manager/ Community Engagement Coordinator. His role includes Quantity Surveying, Estimating, Production, Planning, Buying, Environmental and Sustainability Management.
Gordon says that the construction industry offers a variety of opportunities and there is a huge diversity of different projects.  Construction is challenging and projects present lots of problems to solve, so there never a dull moment.
Gordon loves meeting people within his job role! The diversity of projects bring the variety of people…. from tramps camping out behind site accommodation to celebrities and royals!
After being introduced into the construction industry, Engineering and Technology featured high on Gordon’s list of interests.
When Gordon works for SATRO he assists with SATRO Business games, Global Trading games, Careers Speed dating, Mock interviews and CV writing and Science days, Judging Problem Solving events and assisting at Math Challenges!
 The best bit about working with SATRO for Gordon is meeting nice people and having the opportunity to offer career advice to young people - something he did'nt get himself.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

National Science & Engineering week - Being at the forefront of research

Todays volunteer in the spotlight is Dr David Schley, a Research Scientist from the Pirbright Institute for Animal Health. He applies maths to biological and medical problems - his main focus at the moment is the spread of infectious diseases in animals.

Working as a scientist in this area means that David often discovers things before anyone else and as a researcher he has lots of freedom in how he plans his work and the opportunity to collaborate with many other people.
At school David always enjoyed maths, especially the idea of being able to prove something. He found the subject different at college and at university and again as a post graduate student. At each stage he realised there was more for him to learn and there were still lots of things unproven or waiting to be discovered, hence David’s career in research.
Working as a SATRO volunteer David has attended careers fairs and also helped out with the annual Maths Challenge and the Problem Solving Challenge. By doing this, he hopes that young people gain an insight into STEM-related careers and get the opportunity to meet people who can give a realistic picture of what day to day life is like in different positions.

Monday, 12 March 2012

National Science & Engineering week - Chemistry At Work

Crystal Dolphin is an Operations Project Engineer from Air Products PLC and is a regular Volunteer with SATRO.
The best thing about Crystal’s job is managing projects to make changes to enhance safety, reliability or adding productivity on a live operating plant. She also gets involved from the concept and scoping of a new idea to the design, implementation & commissioning of the system following the changes.  The plants are processing nitrogen & oxygen for a wide range of customers ranging from oil refineries to chemical and food manufacturers.
At school Crystal enjoyed maths and chemistry lessons, and wondered how she could combine these into a career- chemical engineering was the answer. Crystal also took part in a CREST award which she found inspiring and encouraged her to learn more about engineering.
As a SATRO volunteer Crystal has been a judge on problem solving challenges and has also been involved with school careers discussions. She enjoys giving inspiration to other young girls thinking about  career options in engineering. 
For Crystal the best bit about working with SATRO’s programmes for young people is seeing young people enjoy science & engineering out of the traditional classroom environment, solving problems (sometimes by trial and error) and refining the solutions. 

Friday, 9 March 2012

National Science and Engineering week - Our Super Mum Volunteer

Our first Volunteer in the spotlight is Jess Wright, a Principal Estimator from an Oil & Gas Consultancy.  The best thing about Jess’s job as an Engineer is the variety, every day is different. She started out as a process engineer designing equipment and works out the cost of oil and gas installations throughout the world! Jess is expected to be imaginative and accurate!
At school Jess was good at maths and realised she was very logical in how she worked and thought.  Engineering as a career seemed to be a good fit and she managed to get work experience which helped her to decide which branch of engineering to follow. A WISE (Women in Science & Engineering) course helped her overcome her schools’ view that “girls don’t do Engineering”! Jess is passionate about making engineering a real subject available to all.
Jess focuses her attention on Primary days for SATRO. She has made lighthouses, broken circuit boards, shot lemonade bottles over zillions of fences and answered lots of questions. As Jess says “There can’t be many mums of two boys that can weld, have been upside down in a helicopter simulator and talk about the construction issues in permafrost Siberia”.
For Jess the best bit about working with SATRO is being a role model. If I leave my SATRO day having encouraged just one person to give Science another thought – then I’m happy”.

National Science & Engineering week 9-18 March 2012

National Science & Engineering week started today and to celebrate we will be featuring the experiences of our wonderful Science and Engineering Volunteers. Watch this Space!