Thames Water releases online education resources for post-16 students

April 17, 2013

17 April 2013

A new set of education resources for post-16 students focussing on the Thames Tideway Tunnel is launched today by Thames Water.

The updated ‘Tunnelworks’ site will build on the success of the Key Stage 3 and 4 resources launched in September 2012 and now include online lessons with a focus on science, engineering and maths for those in the 16 plus age range.

Students and teachers will have access to lessons in A-level Chemistry and Maths and Levels 2 and 3 BTEC Engineering and Construction.

The updated website is the latest in Thames Water’s educational efforts to use the real-life challenges in designing and constructing the Thames Tideway Tunnel as a basis for classroom activities which aim to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering.

Reports suggest that the UK needs to increase by 50% the number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) graduates it is creating.  There are approximately 23,000 engineers graduating every year in the UK and the Royal Academy of Engineering estimates that 830,000 graduate-level STEM experts will be needed by 2020.

The resources are free, whiteboard-friendly and flexible, requiring minimum preparation time. Worksheets and teachers’ notes are also provided to make the resources simple to use.

Crucially, they aim to link together learning in the classroom with real life career opportunities.

The online materials are carefully developed to provoke the interest of students and their teachers, and to link to National Curriculum specifications.

A-level Chemistry lessons cover enthalpy changes for exothermic reactions and the Winkler test to explore stoichiometry and titrations in testing for dissolved oxygen in water.  The A-level Maths lessons require students to generate and transform trigonometric graphs using a real life example from the Thames Tideway Tunnel project modelling of flow in the sewerage system.

Subjects covered in Level 2 & 3 BTEC Engineering include exercises to test the students’ knowledge and understanding of Personal Protective Equipment and Health and Safety considerations for visitors to a busy construction site. There are also a range of suggestions for students’ engineering projects– a unit covered by many colleges teaching BTEC courses in engineering.

Students can also complete an optional project as part of the CREST awards scheme, endorsed by The British Science Association.  This can be used in science or after-school clubs. CREST is Britain’s largest national award scheme for project work in the STEM subjects.  CREST awards are endorsed by UCAS, the university admissions service, for inclusion in students’ personal statements.

The project idea for the Gold CREST Award consists of an extensive research project through which students investigate why the number of sewage discharges into the River Thames is increasing, the effect these have on river wildlife and planning a campaign to ensure the river’s continued health.

The British Science Association’s Director of Education, Katherine Mathieson, said: “The Tunnelworks resources present a real-life scenario which has a massive impact on people in and around London, which is just the sort of investigative project based approach we encourage through the CREST Awards scheme.

“The British Science Association are pleased that the Thames Tideway Tunnel approached us to ensure their resources fit the ethos and structure of the CREST Awards and we’re excited to see their range of resources expanding.”

Since launching in 2012 the Tunnelworks site has so far attracted some 2,000 unique visitors and been used as the basis for focussed science and maths days in London schools.
The educational resources are available free of charge from http://www.tunnelworks.co.uk/.

Notes to Editors:
1. The Thames Tideway Tunnel is a major new sewer, urgently needed to help protect the tidal River Thames from increasing pollution and to update our capital’s sewerage system.

2. Starting in west London (Acton), the proposed tunnel would generally follow the route of the River Thames to Limehouse, where it would continue north-east to Abbey Mills Pumping Station near Stratford. There it would be connected to the Lee Tunnel, which would transfer the excess flows to Beckton Sewage Treatment Works (STW) for treatment.

3. The Thames Tideway Tunnel is the final and most challenging piece of our overall plan to tackle sewage discharges into the River Thames in London and improve water quality in the River Thames. It is part of the London Tideway Improvements which also includes updates to all five of our major sewage treatment works in London, and also the Lee Tunnel, which is already under construction.

4. The Tunnelworks website launched in September 2012 with a range of activities for students aged 11-16 focussed around Science and Maths subjects.

5. A range of bespoke support is available to schools on contact.

6. For further information, please contact: Thames Water Press Office (0203 577 4364).