In celebration of British Science Week, local STEM ambassador, Ahrani Logan, shares a bluffer’s guide to all things scientific.
I was recently speaking with a few parents and I realised that although some had heard of something called STEM and STEAM, many still had not. If you have time to watch the news, in between madly parenting, or parenting madly, you might already know about this increasingly popular acronym which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. The extra “A” in STEAM stands for Arts.
And it’s been in the news for a number of important reasons. So in honour of this week of science I bring to you a Top 10 of the latest in STEM and STEAM that will have you all clued up in no time. So do grab a cup of caffeine or a glass of vino, depending on what time you are reading this and let us begin…
- There is a current shortage of young people entering careers in the STEM fields. This has led to what’s called a “leaky pipeline”. Meaning there are more jobs than people qualified to work in these areas.
- A particular drop off is seen with girls aged 10 who make up their minds around this age whether to study science or not. This drop-off has been linked to lack of confidence, peer group interests and a lack of female STEM role models.
- Both Government and businesses are focused on teenagers and are attempting to engage them with career advice in STEM fields, in order to find an immediate fix for this pipeline problem.
- Charities like STEMNET work with schools to introduce after-school STEM Clubs in secondary schools to engage young minds in pursuing STEM interests and talents they might have. STEMNET’s STEM Ambassadors work to support teachers and increase engagement through these clubs as well as through careers fairs and class activities.
- Academia is also recognizing the underrepresentation of girls studying STEM subjects and attempting to tackle the problems that women working in STEM fields, face. University College London (UCL) recently held a Nationwide competition called the Rosalind Franklin Appathon, to create an app to empower Women in STEMM. (The extra M here stands for Medicine). The winning app, called AMazing STEMM Trailblazers, is an educational game for boys and girls aged 7+ to engage in critical thinking, problem solving and learn about female STEMM trailblazers. The app will launch later this year at the AppStore.
- Children are Natural scientists. They ask tonnes of questions and are naturally curious. Recognising whether your child has a natural talent for STEM/ STEAM can help to steer them towards activities that foster their imagination and grow their young minds.
- A push to get kids to code is now on. Spotting if your child has a natural aptitude for coding can help them develop these skills for the future. From BBC Microbit and Kano to Scratch, Raspberry Pi and coding clubs, schemes and resources to engage your child in tech early on have taken off in the UK. Parents can engage with their schools to find out more, or do an online search of these to find what’s right for their child.
- A lot of jobs in the future will be tech-based. But we mustn’t forget the other letters in this acronym. STEM is everywhere. Engineers are needed to build our towns and transport. Scientists might hold the clue to cures for disease and eliminating World problems like hunger and poverty. Mathematicians are needed as our future veers towards Space travel. And Arts are needed for our culture and soul.
- All of these subjects work together and overlap. Engineers are creative, just look at their designs. The discovery of the structure of DNA, something that Rosalind Franklin contributed towards, but famously lost out on being awarded a Nobel Prize for, could be argued as discovering a work of art.
- During British Science Week 2016, STEM Ambassadors are involved in judging The UK Space Agency and STEMNET collaboration competition called “SpeakToPeake”. Teachers can invite a STEM Ambassador into school as part of a STEM activity. Pupils are given the chance to submit a question for British Astronaut Tim Peake, currently circling Earth in the International Space Station (ISS), to STEM Ambassadors. The best three questions will be selected by the Ambassador and sent to STEMNET for consideration. Winning questions will be answered in a video by Tim Peake. This is a Nationwide activity and helps to engage children with STEM. The deadline for submissions to STEMNET is Tuesday 22nd March 2016.
Ahrani Logan is a former scientist, ex-BBC Science and Education TV Producer; STEM Ambassador for STEMNET; Mentor at University of Leeds and King’s College London and Co-Founder of Peapodicity.
Peapodicity is a tech creative company based in West London & Chicago, USA, that focuses on creating innovative, fun and educational STEM and STEAM content for 3 to 10 year olds. Peapodicity is the winner of the RFAppathon and will be releasing AMazing STEMM Trailblazers later this year at the App Store.
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @AhraniLogan and @Peapodicity