Engaging Opportunities

Posted November 22, 2016

What is the Engaging Opportunities Project?


The 'Engaging opportunities' project is a partnership between the Open University and Denbigh Teaching School Alliance.  The aim of this project is to enable students to extend their knowledge of careers within science and research and to work with researchers on a wide range of projects.

Open Lectures


Extend students with an interest in STEM subjects by inviting a researcher to give an hour long lecture about their research in a student friendly style and can take place at your school.


Possible topics include:


  • ‘What the Earth can teach us about Extra-terrestrials’

  • ‘The Puzzle of Planet Formation’

  • ‘Acoustics by the sea with BBC Coast’


Appeals to Key Stage 3, 4 and 5 students

Presented by Open University researcher

Duration 1 hour

In addition to the STEM lectures, there is an annual Christmas lecture held at the Open University, which consists of four short lectures followed by Q&A.  These were the lectures from December 2013:

Open Dialogues – Research Cafés


Involve students in high level discussions of research about latest ideas in Science and Technology. 


A topic is introduced, followed by discussions within small groups but also as a whole.  They are aimed at generating discussion and enabling students to share their thoughts on a given topic, outside a traditional academic context.


  • Appeals to Key Stage 5 students

  • Duration 1 hour

The first in a series of research cafés was delivered by Dr Ellie Dommett from the Department of Life, Health and Chemical Sciences.  She discussed the topic of 'Smart drugs: a right or a responsibility' with Year 12 students at Denbigh School in Milton Keynes. 





Other examples of projects in conjunction with the Open University include:







Open Inquiry
Problem solving in science. The Open Inquiry programme includes a wide range of research-based activities, involving pupils from Key Stages 3, 4 and 5. For a given activity, students will take on a range of responsibilities for framing and planning project objectives, collecting and analysing data, and interpreting and reporting the findings.


One example of open inquiry has been the Bottle Rocket challenge which has run for the last two years.  This year four schools competed to design and build two water powered rockets, one for distance and one for accuracy.  A panel of judges including the Mayor judged the teams on their performance and the presentation they gave about their designs.





Open Creativity

Several projects under within the Open Creativity strand have included a design project, the Invisible Witness project and Media Training.

As part of the design project, six Denbigh Students have been working with OU researchers on design ideas for the Engaging Opportunities project which is aimed at creating graphics that represent to project as a whole, but also looking how individual's contributions to the project can be recognised and linked together, whether they are a student, researcher or teacher.



The Invisible Witness

The Invisible Witness project has been looking at the portrayal of representations of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians on television and how they relate to gender and to investigate what extent these images might have an effect on children and young people's perceptions of STEM. 


Key Stage 3 students have taken part in a series of activities that included completing a questionnaire; the ‘Draw-A-Scientist’ test; identifying and discussing STEM and STEM-related characters in TV programmes; creating ideas for programmes that would encourage children and young people to engage with STEM; and writing about what it might be like to work in STEM.



Media Training

The OU has run a number of Media Training Workshops.  In each workshop ten students have worked with staff at the OU on developing in a range of areas including working with digital technologies, producing pieces to camera, and editing footage.  These workshops have resulted in the students producing a range excellent high-quality videos relating a range of different areas of research done at the OU, or videos on other projects such as the Bottle Rocket project and Research Cafes.



For more information please contact us:


 Teaching School Administrator
Denbigh School, Burchard Crescent,

Shenley Church End, Milton Keynes, MK5 6EX

Tel: (01908) 330529, DenbighTSA@denbigh.net