If you’re an engineer who wants to catch the outreach bug, apply now for the next I’m an Engineer at: imanengineer.org.uk/engineer-apply.
In March last year, I participated in my first STEM outreach activity ever – I was one of five engineers in the Robotics Zone of I’m an Engineer. Since then quite a lot happened on the STEM outreach activities end!
As suggested by the I’m an Engineer team, I registered as a STEM Ambassador after the I’m an Engineer event. As a STEM Ambassador you can get involved in a lot of different activities to inspire children to pursue a career in STEM. These activities can range from giving talks at schools or careers fairs to doing networking events to supporting STEM projects in the classroom. There is a database with activities ambassadors can use or we bring forward ideas ourselves. Every STEM Ambassador is provided with a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check, which is required for volunteering in a Child Workforce.
One great thing that happened after the I’m an Engineer event was a visit to Merton Park Primary School and their Code Club. Merton Park was one of the schools we engineers could engage with during the March edition. During the visit, a colleague of mine and I did some hands-on activities with the students using the LEAP Motion and the augmented reality (AR) app Chromville, which we then linked back to the work we do. We also spent some time with their Code Club, where we learned about the very interesting smart bin designs that the children had come up with!
Recently, we organised a visit for the students to our workplace, HSSMI. We got more colleagues involved to show a greater variety of engineers and their backgrounds. Activities we did that day included an engineering quiz, topics around AR and gaming as well as virtual reality (VR). The students even got a chance to hear about life at university from a representative from Loughborough University.
The newest activity I’m involved with is signing up to be a mentor on CyberMentor. CyberMentor is Germany’s largest online mentoring programme for girls in STEM and was started in 2005. Mentee and mentor pairs are assigned based on common interests and backgrounds and the mentoring takes place over a duration of 12 months. The mentee and the mentor can regularly exchange experiences via e-mail, a chat and a forum and they are encouraged to work with other pairs on small STEM projects.
I’m really glad that I participated in I’m an Engineer as I’m pretty sure all of the other wonderful experiences mentioned above wouldn’t have happened otherwise! Back at school, I was never exposed to STEM professionals myself and I really see the value of doing STEM outreach activities to challenge stereotypes about these subjects. I’ve written more about the importance of outreach and engagement for the HSSMI blog.
I very much encourage other STEM professionals to get active in outreach activities as it not only helps the students but also oneself in developing new skills and more confidence. It’s great to know that one of my colleagues is becoming a STEM Ambassador herself based on the experience with the students coming to HSSMI and we have already two other visits to local schools planned in spring (one of them being this Friday!). I have to say, I’m highly excited about going back to Merton Park Primary School this year to see what the students are working on! 🙂 I’m also looking forward to taking part in more online Careers Zone events with the I’m a Scientist team.
Acknowledgement: I would like to thank the I’m an Engineer team for all their effort in putting such a great platform together! I also would like to thank Nicola and Debs from Merton Park Primary School for the wonderful experiences we have made so far and for providing the pictures to this post.