Discussing STEM subjects in the Classroom


STEM in the Classroom

Its been a while since I last blogged (apologies for that), but  I have had a lot on recently. So here is a catch up on one of the activities I have been doing.

Recently I have had an opportunity with two colleagues, to attend a school and take 4 classes (1 hour each class) and talk to them about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math’s) and what is happening in business around Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality. I also took some headsets along for the pupils to try (HTC Vive, Hololens, Gear VR and RealWear) as well as a hand held scanner for taking scans of real world objects to put in to the virtual world.

I ran 20-30 mins of discussion followed by the rest of the time with the pupils trying out the items I had taken along for them to look at how they can be used and to inspire them in looking at STEM subjects in their subject choices.

It was a great experience to take 4 classes and effectively being a teacher for them and it was certainly different to be called “Sir” instead of “Max” and took a bit of getting used to.

I used a mobile phone as a basis to explain why STEM subjects are important as all the pupils had one and went through how Science, Technology, Engineering and Math’s subjects/skills are used in the creation of the device and why they are important.

The pupils certainly enjoyed their experience trying the different types of realities and using some voice controls instead of keyboards to invoke applications and tasks. I hope that I have helped inspire some to take the subjects going forward and wish them all well with their choices, exams and future careers.


STEM – Gaining Inspiration

Tim Peakes Soyuz CapsuleEncouraging young people to take STEM subjects is not always an easy task when you are speaking with them at career events.

Finding talking points is a great way to start the conversation. Normally this is based around the roles I have carried out in my career and my own experiences at school, however this will be one of my references in future conversations.

Last weekend whilst on a trip I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to go and see Tim Peakes Soyuz capsule (Soyuz TMA-19M). The spacecraft that brought him back to earth on 18th June 2016, following his mission on the International Space Station.

This is a great example of all the STEM subjects coming together. For example:

  • Science – working out how to get someone into space and safely back again. Also what to do whilst they are in space.
  • Technology – to control the craft and communications.
  • Engineering – to build the craft and ensure its durability leaving and entering the earths atmosphere.
  • Maths – to work out all those complex calculations behind the Science, Technology and Engineering.

The capsule was once white and its current colour is from the burning and charring caused by the intense heat during re-entry.

The capsule is on tour so if you are in the UK, it may be coming to a location near you https://group.sciencemuseum.org.uk/our-work/tim-peakes-spacecraft-tour/

What do you use as subjects and topics do you use?

Digital Fit in 2018: Balancing the Noise


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Sound DeskListening is one of the key skills in life and it is also the same across the various information streams, however you can get flooded with “noise” that you need to filter out to get to the messages and content that you want to hear about.

I have written in the past about a Personal Knowledge Management System that can be used to help filter out noise and focus on the streams and information that is relevant to yourself.

We have many forms of information streams that can be tapped into such as email and social media platforms. It can take time to keep looking at each stream in turn and scrolling through the history. Many of the streams change at a very fast rate – for example how many people you follow on twitter and who you follow can make a difference. If your following a bot that basically picks up other tweets about a subject and re-tweets them you will be picking up a lot of traffic from many accounts.  This can be to coin and old phrase “drinking from the firehose”. You are only able to take in so much information.

Top 4 tips for Balancing the Noise:

  • Manage who you follow. If they get too noisy about things that you don’t want to know about you can unfollow them (and re follow them later)
  • Be wary of following too many bots as they can fill your streams quickly.
  • Think about using tools such as feedly to bring some streams together for viewing in a list.
  • Set up your own Personal Knowledge Management System

Further Reading:

Digital Mindset

Digital Fit in 2018: Start Blogging

Digital Fit in 2018: Get Social

Digital Fit in 2018: Build up a Readership

A-Z of Digital – K is for Knowledge

A-Z of Digital – S is for Social


Technology Couch Podcast – Episode 2


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Technology Couch Podcast

Episode 2

In this episode I am joined by Miranda Webb (https://twitter.com/mirandakaywebb1) and discuss Women in IT and Leadership, gender pay gap and STEM.

The podcast is also available in iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/technology-couch-podcast

Podcast References:

Suggested Reading from Miranda:

Digital Fit in 2018: Build up a Readership


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binocularsIf you have been following this series of blog posts, you should now have a blog and a set of social channels. That’s a great start, however how do you get noticed? How to you get a readership? How can you increase your Digital Profile? These are questions that I was asked yesterday following my last post. Here are my thoughts on this topic.

Have you ever Googled yourself? (other search engines are available). Did you appear in any of the search results or not? Did you check the images as well?

If you already have a presence in a blog or social channels the chances are that the search engine has found one of these – unless you have a name that competes with someone with a stronger profile, where if you go through the results you should be there.  If you do not have any social presence its most likely you will not feature in the results.

Looking yourself up on a search engine is also a good way of checking any security or privacy settings you have on your social platforms. Have you opened up enough for the search engines to find you, or have you exposed too much and need to dial it back a bit.

There isn’t a super magic sauce for building a readership and some of it will happen over time, however there are a number of things you can do to get started.

The content you post is only half of the story. People will often like to click through if the content is good to find out who has written it. Having a profile will help the reader understand who you are and your background.

Lets break this down into two main headings. Profile and Content.


Blog Profile

In most blogging platforms you can set your profile within your account. It is important to ensure that you have a good profile picture in place as well. Search engines love profile data as it tells them who has written the blog. Make sure you set the metadata on the picture as well. Name, Description, and Keywords which search engine pick up on.

Blog About

Setting your About page to a good description of yourself. Think about using other sites such as about.me Here is my profile as an example – https://about.me/maxhemingway. You will see that it links back to my blog, twitter and other sites. You can also set these on your blog site using icons to link back to other pages.


Social Channel Profiles

Again it is important to set your profile and picture. Keep consistency in your profile information, although an alternative profile picture can be used.

At the end of this you will end up with a small web of interlinks between your sites.


Searchable Subjects – Blogs

Your subject and content are key in order to gain a readership. This will be down to what subjects you blog on, however using tags and keyword functions in your blog can also help search engines find your content. There are lots of search engines in use today and each has its quirks on how it ranks results and collects data, however using the standard features in your blog for Categories and Tags can help search engines. It also helps group content you write on your site and makes any local site searching using the blog search engine easy.

Posting regular content also helps build a readership and following.

Broadcasting content

When you write a blog or post something in a social channel you can link between the channels so one post can automatically be posted in other channels. For instance, when I post a blog, it also gets broadcast out on Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn using the Sharing function. You can link to a number of other channels as well.

Once a reader finds your blog post, they can have a look at the other content on your site. If its good, you can build a set of followers.


The time that you publish your blog or tweets can also have an effect on your readership levels due to different time zones around the world. I find that publishing after GMT 14:00 is usually a good time, but this may differ depending upon your own timezone and your target audience.


Popular Press has mastered this art and provides its reader with a catchy headline to its stories. You need to think about the message your headine or tweet is trying to convey. Will it attract the readers you want, or is it not quite on message. Short snappy headlines pull in the readers.

Social Channels

Social channels can provide a readership and following for your content. For example Twitter uses hashtags which are searchable via twitter and let you view tweets of a similar hashtag. Love them or hate them, the hashtag is a useful tool in building your readership.

Following the followers

You don’t have to follow lots of people to get a good following, however if people are following you, its because they like the subject you are communicating. They may have similar views or posts, so following them back may help you with research into your next post.

The important part to remember (as mentioned in my last blog post) is that social platforms are relational not transactional. Following people in your field/subject also shows your readers that you are interested in your topic and the views of others.


Having good content and messages that are re-tweeted or re-blogged by someone else introduces your post to a different circles of followers. This only happens though if people consider your content and messages to be relevant to their followers and readership.


When your in conversation and a subject comes up that you have blogged about, tell people you have a point of view on that as reference your work. Send out links to people so they can find it easily.

Guest Write

Consider guest writing for a blog or channel as they often provider a link back to the authors blog/twitter. This usually needs you to be established with some good content in the first place before being accepted as a guest writer.

Lastly, time is a factor. It does take time to build up your content, build followers and getting the search engines to list you in the results, however once you start getting noticed, your readership does go up.

Try searching for yourself in a couple of weeks again. Any change?


Further Reading:

Digital Mindset

Digital Fit in 2018: Start Blogging

Digital Fit in 2018: Get Social

A-Z of Digital – K is for Knowledge

A-Z of Digital – S is for Social


Digital Fit in 2018: Get Social


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SocialFollowing on my series on Digital Fit in 2018, being social is an important part of building your Digital Profile. There are two main things which spring to mind when you mention the word social. Going out with family and friends, and using tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc.

In this post I mean the latter. Using these social tools to gain an understanding of what is going on in the world, industry and your focus areas, as well as using the platforms to broadcast your own views and opinions.

There are groupings of favorable social tools which depend upon your age range and have become the defacto tools you use. For some its Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. For others its Snapchat, Flickr, YouTube, Pintrest. There are many different combinations and its mainly down to what we have been comfortable with for a period of time.

There are many different social platforms available and some are more mainstream than others. Some are new and some have fallen out of favour with people and usage has decreased on them. Which ever platforms you use will be down to how you want to evolve your usage of them.

Social tools provide an abundance of information that you can consume real time and through historical views. Choosing what to view will be down to personal preference.

Using the social tools as a broadcast channel is a good method to getting your voice heard on subjects that you want to discuss. It will take time to build a following or readership so don’t be put off by this or the fact that people may follow then unfollow depending if your messages are useful to them. The main thing is to keep up a regular drumbeat of postings or tweets, even if its once a week.

It is important to remember that social platforms are relational not transactional – understanding your audience is key.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Check your messages before posting
  • Respond to comments
  • Give credit
  • Pick who you follow and regularly check to see you have
  • See who is following you – Are your messages pulling in the right audience – do you need to change anything
  • Don’t over hashtag your posts

Here are my top 5 tips on being Social Media Savvy

Social Channels – Choose the channels that you want to use and look at the audience on those channels. They type of things being posted. Split your channels between personal and professional work.

Listen, Research, Listen Again – Listening to what is going on in your channels is important to understand the trends and topics being talked about.

Be Authentic And True – Be yourself – don’t try to be someone your not.

Keep It Regular and Relevant – Posting a couple of times a week is a good measure. Making sure that your posts are relevant to what you want to say and what your audience is looking for.  You could always automate your posts – e.g. writing some blog posts and having them published during the week via a scheduler.

Think Security – Would you want anyone outside your friends network seeing that post? Eventually your post could be public as once something is posted you don’t have control on what other people can do with it.

Source: A-Z of Digital – S is for Social

Further Reading:

Digital Mindset

Digital Fit in 2018: Start Blogging

A-Z of Digital – K is for Knowledge

A-Z of Digital – S is for Social

Technology Couch Podcast – Episode 1



Technology Couch Podcast

Launching my new podcast “Technology Couch Podcast” with Episode 1 – Technology Social Change Agents.

In this episode I am joined by Graham Chastney (https://grahamchastney.com/)

The podcast is also available in iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/technology-couch-podcast

Podcast References

Link to Grahams blog mentioned in the Podcast:


Building a 3D Printer: Part 1


GeeetechTowards the end of last year I decided to invest in a 3D Printer for home. There are a few projects that I want to start on and other family members are keen on using one as well.

After some usual research into printers and choosing one using reviews, blog posts, videos etc to help this decision, I opted to buy a kit version of a printer.

The one I choose was based on the Prusa i3 Pro model and came from Geeetech. My main reason for this was as this is my first 3D Printer build its a generic model with lots of product support and build information so if stuck there is bound to be a YouTube video or blog about it.

The other reason is the support for printing in  ABS, PLA, Wood, Nylon and flexible PLA. Yes Wood! Okay – it wont be in the form of 3×2″ that you feed in the top of the printer, but in that the filament is made up of around 40% recycled wood fibres. The finishing looks like a wood product when printed.

Printer ordered, it only took a few days to arrive. I decided to build the printer over a weekend starting on the Saturday, so with the parts carefully laid out across my dining room table in number order, it was time to start making. The instructions are in a PDF format so had my laptop on reading through the parts and instructions. There were links to a series of YouTube Videos that took you through the assembly which came in handy several times.

A small number of  tools are supplied with the kit, however a couple of spanners and screwdrivers are helpful additions.

Build pictures above

There is a certain satisfaction on building something like a 3D Printer, a bit like completing a Meccano or Lego construction. Building the printer in this way I have also learnt a lot about how the printer works and functions. This has made it a worthwhile learning exercise.

As I was finishing the assembly, I found that the Z-Axis screw threads were slightly bent. Rolling them on a flat surface confirmed this. The net effect was that the movement up and down of the printing head mechanism would get stuck at the top and bottom of the printer. An email off to the supplier and some excellent customer service later, replacement parts were dispatched.

Due to Christmas Post and distance being sent the replacement parts have only just arrived so Part 2 of this blog will be completing the printer, alignment and testing. The build time so far has been around a days effort.


Digital Fit in 2018: Start Blogging


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Blog TilesThis is the first in a series of posts I will be doing in 2018 about getting Digital Fit. By this I mean achieving the right Digital Mindset for your current or future role and honing your skills to meet the demands of the Digital Era.

There is no single course or video that can achieve this goal, however there are many that can help you along the journey.

“To Blog or Not to Blog!”, Blogging isn’t for everyone and may not come naturally, however it plays a big part in the Digital Era, whether you are reading them or publishing them, you will read blogs at some point. Your reading this one!

One of the biggest issues with starting a blog is what content should you be writing about. Having an idea about what your blog is going to be about is the first step. Here are some ideas:

  • Work based subject area
  • Re-enforce your learning areas by blogging about them
  • Hobby or interest

The main key points to blogging for me are:

  • Be Authentic
  • Be yourself
  • Don’t be afraid on posting that idea or thought
  • Don’t be afraid of posting different opinions
  • You learn things doing research for your blog posts
  • Post regularly
  • Blogging helps build your confidence
  • Blogging helps build an audience

The next stage is to choose where to host your blog. There are many different blogging platforms available that you can choose from. I have listed two Free Blogging Sites below, but there are many more that you can find using an internet search. There are already lots of reviews on which blogging site to choose and it really depends upon your needs. I’ll leave the choice down to you and your own research:

I myself have chosen WordPress* as my blogging platform as it is well established and has a set a great features available on the free tier:

  • Sharing with Social platforms
  • Scheduling posts to be published at a later date
  • Good site usage statistics
  • Search indexing


When you publish a blog, you should use other social platforms such as Twitter, Linked-In and Facebook (to name a few) to share the post which will help build your audience.



(*I am not affiliated with WordPress or receiving any kick back from this post from them)


Pen based Productivity Tools – The Chronodex 2018



ChronodexIts good to see that Patrick Ng has released the first part of the Chronodex for Jan to Jun 2018. Now in its 6th year of production. Still a favorite of mine due to its design and ease to use.

This is primarily meant for the Midori Traveller Notebook system, but it can be used without.

There is still a place for journalling using a pen rather than a blog post as discussed here No Batteries Required: My Personal Journal.  I’m now on Journal 22 and still going strong with those daily entries.

Link to downloads: