Invent Plus

Design, lead, and deliver fun engineering workshops to schoolchildren - applications are open!

Informaton icon Design, lead, and deliver fun engineering workshops to schoolchildren - applications are open!

Location icon Remotely, and potentially in Southampton primary schools

Clock icon Flexible timing, around 1.5 hours each week on weekdays

What is Invent Plus?

Invent Plus is an incubator project from Southampton Hub, which is a SUSU society and the UoS branch of Student Hubs. Student Hubs is a national charity working to mainstream student social action and support our development as active citizens, at university and beyond. Our goal through Invent Plus is to give all children a chance to find their calling within engineering. As we’re a small team of student volunteers, we can’t change the world, but we can definitely have an impact within our local community.

To this goal, we deliver practical workshops in Southampton schools to allow students to get hands-on experience with different types of engineering. Last year, we ran workshops on civil, aeronautic, mechanical, and electronic engineering at Swaythling and St. Denys Primary Schools, engaging over 60 schoolchildren aged 7-11. With Covid this year, everything has changed, so we need your help to continue making a difference!

Why do children need Invent Plus?

With existing STEM outreach activities, many children don’t. But there are many more whose backgrounds prevent them from ever being exposed to engineering in schools, and for whom cost is a great barrier to extra-curricular activities. These are the children we aim to help, and by introducing them to engineering not only from disadvantaged backgrounds but also from a young age, we are working towards our ultimate goal: helping close the STEM educational gap.

How is Invent Plus different from other STEM outreach activities?

Invent Plus is an entirely student-lead incubator project. What this means is that nothing is “set in stone” - we have complete flexibility over what we do, and we get to shape what this year will look like. There is a lot of space for creativity in all its forms, from designing materials to be visually and conceptually engaging for the children, to coming up with entirely new workshops which introduce students to areas of engineering which interest you. The best part? You’re free to do as little or as much as you’d like for the project – any help is welcome!

What placements are there?

We offer a variety of different placements in our local partner schools, but due to Covid, most placements will be remote, so you can sign up even if you will not be in the Southampton area this year.

We are currently adjusting our workshops and delivery to Covid, and planning for online delivery together with activity packs to be delivered to schools. This semester, we are teaming up with the Public Engagement Department (PERu) to design and create activity packs for Dragonfly Days, with a focus on inspiring girls to pursue STEM. Each activity will be linked to a current academic’s area of research within the university and, of course, your own interests!

Volunteering commitment

If you would like to volunteer with the schoolchildren, for example by presenting a session or providing live support for the activities, we would expect you to volunteer for a minimum of 4 activity days across the year. This is a requirement of the programme and allows the schoolchildren to have a level of continuity. However, if you’d like to help out in other ways, for example by creating content for our activity packs, working on activity booklets, or even helping out with grant applications, we appreciate any time you would be willing to commit!

Skills and employability

Teamwork outside of a university setting, engineering skills beyond your pathway, academic support, communication, tutoring, liaising with parents, behaviour management, leading children’s activities, delivering activities for varying levels of academic ability, leadership, and flexibility are all skills you will gain by taking part in Invent Plus. This volunteering opportunity is also excellent if you are looking for experience which develops your social and public speaking skills, and working in schools and with young people. This is a unique set of skills which could set you apart from the crowd in your CV, or support you in exploring a career in education/youth work.

Training and support

All of our programmes are supported by students and staff. As part of Invent Plus, you will have sub-committee members, the Invent Plus Coordinator (Oana Lazar), and the staff team (Catherine Taplin-Thorpe) to speak to.

The Coordinator and staff team will be leading on your selection workshop, initial training and additional training provision (such as behaviour management, routes into education etc) throughout Invent Plus, as well as any issues with your school placements. The staff team will be in touch with you during your placement to get mid-year and end-of-year feedback, which is required from all volunteers.

Q: Can I still take part if I am not an engineering student?

A: Of course! You don't need to be an expert, you just need to be keen to learn, and enthusiastic about inspiring the next generation. With a short training session and some exploration, you will be ready to jump into one of our projects! We take all student volunteers for this project, not only those from STEM disciplines.

Q: I'm not currently in Southampton, and don't know when I'll be back. Can I still take part?

A: Definitely, and you don't even need to be in the UK! Although it would be fantastic to be able to go into schools this year, our activities will still continue to run even in a lockdown. This is because almost all of our volunteering is remote this year, but with real-life, practical impacts on schoolchildren through our activity packs!

Q: I'm not sure I can commit to 1.5 hours each week, but still want to help. Should I sign up?

A: Absolutely! We completely understand that you have other commitments, and your studies must always come first. There are many different roles available with Invent Plus, and we will work with you to find something that you're happy to take on - any help at all is much appreciated!


Reasonable adjustments

Invent Plus is committed to being an inclusive programme, and encourages all students to get involved. We can make reasonable adjustments to application processes, selection workshops, training sessions, your volunteering placement, and other activities on a case-by-case basis. We also provide ongoing support for the students we work with, so if you have particular accessibility needs, including if you want to disclose a disability or special educational needs, please do get in touch with Catherine at catherine.taplin-thorpe@southamptonhub.org and let us know how we can make the activity more accessible.

Volunteering with Invent Plus won't cost you

We reimburse all Southampton Hub volunteers' travel expenses, including bus and car travel, throughout the project.

Why not volunteer with a friend?

Volunteering for Southampton Hub is social and you'll have the chance to meet many like-minded people, but why not ask a friend to sign up with you too?


Questions?

Email catherine.taplin-thorpe@southamptonhub.org who will be able to answer any questions and direct you to the Invent Plus committee for any further help and support.

You can also check out similar projects, such as Schools Plus or Libraries Plus, over on our What's On page.

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