APS News

The Turing Scheme

The Turing Scheme: Engineering Careers in Context

Alexandra Park School is committed to our international relationships and ensuring success for all of our students by providing free opportunities to explore, learn, and socialise, abroad. We have one more year on our successful Erasmus+ programmes, and as the sun sets on one adventure, the sun rises on another. 

turing 01The Turing Scheme is the UK Government’s new global scheme to work and study abroad. Alexandra Park School has been awarded funding to run a new Engineering Enrichment programme with our Year 12 students aimed at promoting the wide range of careers in Engineering. Engineering isn’t ALL planes, trains, and automobiles (although these are exceptionally necessary for the trips to run). Engineering is one of the widest ranging disciplines in the world; broadcast engineers, software engineers, product designers, civil engineers, chemical engineers, medical engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical, aerospace, sports, acoustics, environmental, biochemical …virtually everything you come into contact with will have been engineered. 

Not only is engineering wide ranging, but engineers report high job satisfaction, high salaries, and the opportunities to travel the world. This will form the focus of the Enrichment project as we encourage our students to thoroughly explore this possibility before making their post-school life choices.  

Y12 students will be able to sign up to the programme through Enrichment and participate in fortnightly sessions. These will be tailored to the students – from researching global problems we face and how to solve them, to coding, tinkering, designing, making, and breaking, anything and everything our students wish to focus on. STEM Ambassadors will be invited in to talk to our students and many students will choose to complete an EPQ or CREST Award – enriching their UCAS, apprenticeship, and job prospects. 

Their studies in school will culminate in a trip to either Copenhagen, Denmark, or Toronto, Canada, where we will spend time completing masterclasses with host schools learning what it is like to live and study abroad. There will be no or minimal costs to attending these trips due to the grant funding provided. In addition, we will visit institutions such as the Neils Bohr institute where ice cores from Greenland are stored, and the Perimeter Institute where engineers help scientists answer some of science’s biggest questions. 

Students who wish to take part will need to be studying one of: Maths, Computer Science, Product Design, BTEC Applied Science, Biology, Chemistry, or Physics. They don’t need to be set on a career in Engineering – merely interested by the possibilities. Students can sign up when they apply for their Enrichment choices. 

This our first time running a project of this nature, if any parents or people in our school community work in engineering or have interesting experiences to share (e.g. workplace visits or come in to talk) then do please reach out to Mr Marshall (jmarshall@alexandrapark.school).


Rolls Royce Diary November 2020

Getting the gang back together

Full STEAM ahead.

The team is back together! Laura has been taking the lead on the Architecture in VR project – and really incorporating it into the A Level Product Design curriculum. Peter has been rewriting some self-guided worksheets for families to explore the forces curriculum using the Apollo 11 VR app. Joe has begun the difficult process of converting the Projectile Motion game to a web based application (far in excess of the initial project requirements). And finally, Jed has been running around like a mad hatter linking it all together – including repurposing a “mobile VR” kit for use with the architectural project. The project has really evolved to be a full Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) project.

Architecture in VR

Laura writes

Last week the year twelve Product Design students had an introduction to the CAD/VR project we are collaborating on as part of the Rolls Royce School’s Prize for Science and Technology. The brief they have been given is to redesign a bus stop for a particular area. The aim of this project is to introduce them to architectural modelling and scale, build on CAD skills and consider sustainable ways of producing iterative prototypes.

Each student has gone out on a site visit to look at an existing bus stop they would like to redesign. Some are choosing to focus on including key features of the local area, like an art deco tube station, whilst others are thinking about how safe users feel and improving lighting. 

This project is a really useful opportunity to cover a lot of areas of the curriculum for us. It gives students the chance to work at 1:1 scale with their architectural models and view them at this scale to truly dig down in to how the design will function in a way that is not possible with small scale models. Working with scale is also key information they need to know for the theory exam. 

From a sustainability point of view this is great for us as teachers and designers as it makes it possible to experiment with a range of materials and textures quickly and realistically without having to waste material. It also hugely speeds up the process of iterative designing so more designs can be produced and these can be much more complex in the lesson time as well as students being able to easily continue working at home.

Jed writes

The school was generously gifted a mobile VR experience last year – wherein students go on virtual expeditions using mobiles and VR viewers. They were not used for the initial project as they lack the full head and hand tracking required for the level of immersion we required. They are however perfect for issuing to the Y12 product design students for fast and efficient ‘quick look’ iterative design. This means we can issue all 6 of the Quests to families and use the mobile headsets for the Bus Shelter project.

In addition to this the “workflow” was thoroughly tested. I used as generic bus shelter asset I found online – along with some tweaking – to move a 3D model from SketchUp to Sketchfab for VR viewing. You can view this here – next step importing a few of this models into Mozilla Hubs for our exhibition!

nov 01
Fig. 1: VR View of a bus stop on the SketchFab app on a mobile phone

Family expeditions

Peter writes

The initial project used the Apollo 11 VR experience to really enhance students’ appreciation for Newton’s Laws and given them that “impossible” experience of docking in space. The worksheets used required teacher guidance with a continued focus on linking what students were experiencing to challenging contextual problems.

Unfortunately, we can’t send a teacher home to each family so have had to think carefully about how we redesign the worksheet. Instead of using it to support difficult calculations the family-guided workbook will instead look at broader ideas around people’s intuitions and false conceptions around forces – through the lens of completing the Apollo 11 missions.

In addition, we really want students to further explore the National Geographic arctic exhibition and to visit the ISS. We will do some more work on this in the coming weeks – using Teams to contact our VR group and update them on tasks we would like them to complete.

nov 03
Fig. 2: Setting up equipment for the next project settings!



Institute of Physics National Teacher Award

Congratulations to Henry Hammond, the winner of the Institute of Physics National Teacher Award.  The work he and the science team have done, developing Physics both at APS and across North London has been recognised nationally.  The Institute of Physics wrote a bio about Henry and we wanted to share some of this with you.  This is a well deserved accolade for Henry and the science Team.

Henry is a highly creative and enthusiastic physics teacher who has had a truly transformative influence on the teaching of physics at his school, seeing outstanding growth in the A-level physics numbers and a big increase in separate sciences at GCSE, and inaugurating many external teacher professional development projects for both primary and secondary colleagues, as well as technicians.
He runs the North East London Science Learning Partnership and two local Ogden Trust partnerships, delivers teacher subject specialist training, hosts interns and trainees, and supports the development and delivery of Ogden Trust professional development across England.

3…2…1… Lift-off? Erasmus+ reaches for the skies

I am sure we are all sick and tired of stories of Corona woe. I could lament that our trip to French Guiana (March 2020) with Erasmus+ was cancelled, and that 2 years of hard work by students and staff went up in smoke. Or instead we can celebrate, look back on our exchange trips to Copenhagen, Kos, Madrid, and here in London – and appreciate the masterful journey our latest Erasmus+ cohort took together.

Three years ago whilst ‘networking’ in a Danish ‘food and drink’ establishment, myself and our Copenhagen colleague, the eponymous ‘Mikkel Max’, hatched a daring plan. Surely in the days of modern computing students can build and program a small device to measure the effects of climate change? Surely in the time of Space X we can build a small rocket to launch this device as high as we can? And surely, in the time of countries withdrawing from international climate accords, we can bring together a rich and diverse group of global students to explore the science behind measuring climate change?

These were our goals, and we had such a success on the journey. In the most recent exchange in London the Erasmus+ students designed, created, and tested (by dropping from a drone), a device which successfully measured various aspects of atmospheric pollution. And whilst there is now a large lone rocket sitting in the science department, bereft of its opportunity to soar over the jungles of French Guiana, we know that in the future this rocket will carry a payload – hopefully in co-operation with other countries in a future Erasmus+ program.

So rather than going out with a bang – the project ends with the official, rubber stamped, signed in triplicate, slightly erroneously translated, ‘project feedback’ email from the EU. During the initial scramble of the first lockdown everything was tidied away, but not forgotten, and as we find balance in the ‘new normal’ we can think positively about the future again. Find below some quotes from the project summary and pictures of our two-year journey.

The innovative character of the project is considered high within High Schools. It is an ambitious project between very different partners geographically and academically.
Covid-19 is responsible for the project's abrupt ending, but the partners managed to finalize… when schools were closed all over the world.
The project must be considered a success, with evaluations from school partners, students and parents all highlighting the students' intercultural and professional benefits.
Three of the partners have already started a new Erasmus project from the experiences with coding and STEM from this project.