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ERA Foundation announces 2023 Clark Prize Winners for engineering in the classroom

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Pictured from left to right; Professor Sir Chris Snowden, Jenn McEwan, Hamada Mahdi, Isabel Culmer, Caroline Maston, Andrew Everett

ERA Foundation announces 2023 Clark Prize Winners for engineering in the classroom

The 2023 David Clark Prizes have been awarded to Jenn McEwan and Isabel Culmer, two teachers who have gone above and beyond the curriculum to inspire students and showcase real-world engineering in the classroom.

The ERA foundation, a long-term supporter of Made Here Now, announced that this year’s Primary School David Clark Prize will go to Jenn McEwan from Doonfoot Primary School and the Secondary School Prize will go to Isabel Culmer from Barton Peveril Sixth Form College.

The prize recognises teachers who have gone beyond the teaching syllabus and demonstrated a strong track record of showcasing real-world engineering to students while inspiring them to consider engineering as a career. The awarding team agreed that Jenn and Isabel had both shown a vision for engineering and a high level of creativity in their work with young people.

Professor Sir Chris Snowden, chairman, ERA Foundation, said: “The ERA Foundation are delighted to recognise and support such hard working, inspirational and dedicated teachers through the David Clark Prize. The teachers receiving these awards have demonstrated that they have gone over and above what’s expected of them to promote engineering and encourage young people to consider the discipline as a career path,” said Professor Snowden.

Jenn McEwan

Jenn McEwan, the Lead Science Teacher at Doonfoot Primary School, has actively engaging them with engineering for the last 12 years. Also, her development role as local authority STEM Lead covering forty one primary schools, their associated Early Years Centres, eight secondary schools, and two Additional Support Needs Schools in South Ayrshire, Jenn has extended her influence, providing opportunities and engagement for young people of all ages with engineering.

Jenn McEwan

Jenn’s dedication to promoting engineering is evident in her involvement with the Primary Engineer’s Leaders Award. For a decade, Doonfoot Primary School has engaged its pupils with the yearly competition, celebrating multiple winners.

In addition to fostering engagement with the competition, she promotes interaction with engineering repeatedly and in multiple ways throughout the school and South Ayrshire. She has organised and delivered numerous engineering-focused initiatives, including collaborations with the University of Strathclyde to deliver a summer programme of engaging STEM activities for secondary-aged pupils with significant additional needs.

Jenn McEwan said: “I am incredibly grateful to the ERA Foundation for recognising my work this way. To be selected by such an esteemed organisation for this prize is simply a dream come true! It has been an absolute joy and privilege to have had the opportunity to support so many learners over the years on their STEM journey while working in a learning community which has nurtured my passion for STEM."

Isabel Culmer

A Computer Science teacher at Barton Peveril Sixth Form College, Isabel Culmer has worked to engage and develop students’ aspirations and access to high-quality STEM experiences, going beyond the core curriculum.

Isabel’s dedication to her students is evident in her commitment to running three weekly enrichment sessions, where students learn more practical engineering skills and prepare for competitions. Due to demand and Isabel’s reputation, this provision has grown from one class to three over the last five years.

Isabel Culmer

Over the last eighteen years, Isabel has helped prepare multiple teams each year for the Engineering Education Scheme. She also organises the entry of at least one team into the Student Robotics competition held by Southampton University.

Isabel Culmer commented: “I was greatly surprised and humbled to receive this prize. I am grateful for the opportunity to inspire and mentor the next generation of engineers. With this prize I hope to further help students to develop a passion for engineering and give them the skills they need to to make a positive difference in the world. 

"The prize will enable us to offer our current engineering enrichment to many more students and allow them to experience a wider variety of engineering with more equipment and trips to industry.”

Highly Commended

Caroline Maston, a science teacher at Lighthouse School, and Hamada Mahdi, lead computer science teacher at London Academy of Excellence Tottenham, were recognised for their exceptional contributions to engineering education.

Caroline has made it her mission to support and inspire her students, bringing subjects to life in her classroom in a way that is both engaging and accessible. Caroline uses various tools and resources to deliver her lessons, including 3D printers and everyday objects. She also covers various topics, ensuring her teaching is comprehensive and well-rounded.

Hamada Mahdi has created an environment that fosters innovation and technical excellence among his students. He understands the importance of practical, hands-on learning experiences in sparking interest in engineering among young minds. To this end, Hamada has run several software development projects, allowing his students to apply their knowledge and skills in a real-world context.

The awards were presented at the ERA Foundation Annual Dinner and Lecture on 13th June 2023.