By Penny Carmichael, on 19 February 2013
-Article by Abigail Mountain
The reason we’re all here, be it learning, researching or teaching science, is probably due to someone or something inspiring our thirst for knowledge. If we want to continue to get youngsters enthusiastic about our subject we need to get out there ourselves and show them why they should love it too.
STEMNET is doing just that and are encouraging us to join up and become a STEM ambassador. It’s a national program with around 25,000 ambassadors currently volunteering in schools. Activities you would be doing range from giving careers advice to hands on activities with students; from skype lessons to helping out at national events such as the BBC Bang Goes the Theory road show. You can get more information at www.stemnet.org.uk or email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To give us some idea of what to expect when becoming an ambassador, we had four speakers give their first-hand experiences. Steve Plumridge, a professional engineer, was full of enthusiasm about the benefits he and the children get from him helping judge engineering competitions at some of his local schools. The kids get so involved in the competitions and the results are really promising for the future of our engineering community. Dr Jasbir Singh Lota, head of STEM at Parmiter’s School in Hertfordshire, showed us some greats snaps of STEM events held at his school, along with updates on where some of the one who became inspired are now.
Dr. Laura Fenner, a past PhD student of Andrew Wills, told us of how being an ambassador was not only beneficial to the students she came across, but also to her progress throughout her research degree. She designed an hourlong lecture on her favourite subject – magnetism – to give to schoolchildren. Before doing this Laura absolutely dreaded public speaking (I can really empathise) but this experience gained her great confidence and she doesn’t recommend it highly enough, especially if you are considering becoming a teacher.
Adrian Fenton also spoke to us about the CREST program, part of the British Science Association. It provides STEM activities for youngsters and also runs the CREST Awards, which is endorsed by UCAS. These awards can be undertaken by 11-19 year olds and are a bit like the Duke of Edinburgh Awards but for science. I kind of wish this was around when I was at school – sounds way more fun that trekking through a muddy field. I think it’s great that universities now recognise commitment to STEM. What we would be able to do as part of CREST is volunteer as judges for events or help out at national events held in the Excel centre. For more information about joining up visit www.britishscienceassociation.org/crest
So if you want to capture the attention of the next Nobel Prize winner become a STEM ambassador. Passing on our expertise and passion should come easily to most of us, and if that’s not a good enough reason to want to it I reckon it’ll look great on a CV too.