Following the science – our new STEM Careers Programme launches this autumn

Thursday 23rd September 2021

Issues important to young people are constantly in the news, from ‘following the science’ during the pandemic to the New Space Race, climate change and the global energy crisis. That’s why our STEM Careers Programme strives to fire up secondary school students’ enthusiasm with topical themes and activities that inspire and engage. Our regular programmes return for this academic year with a mix of virtual and in person activities, and in recognition of a growing skills shortage, we have introduced a series of new STEM Skills Workshops for year 9, 10 and 11 students. These include CV writing, Excel training, interview techniques and ‘People Like Me’ – a workshop designed to breakdown stereotypes around STEM. Our Young Scientists of the Year award ceremony is back this autumn with special guest speakers from Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Dr Sean Ellis from University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, where year 13 students can hear first-hand about the development of AstraZeneca vaccine. We’ll meet experts with guided tours from the region’s STEM companies with our free Insight Week for year 10 students in October half term, with companies such as Low Carbon HubHabitat Energy and UKAEA providing talks on climate change and new technologies plus talks with Abbott, Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History, the Faraday Institution, Vertex, Virridor and more.
Finally, we’re delighted that our STEM Summer Experience for year 11 – 12 students will return in 2022 – read a blog below by Christopher Duff, our STEM Projects Officer and find out what we did last summer…

What an Experience!

Work Experience of any kind has been somewhat difficult to come by in 2021, which is why Science Oxford were pleased to welcome 67 students from across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and beyond to take part in our free STEM Summer Experience during the school holidays. Aimed to replicate as much of the best bits of a work experience placement, the students took part in virtual tours, skill based workshops and a research project.

Throughout the two weeks, the students were invited to tour around some of the world’s leading technological centres, such as the JET fusion reactor located in Culham and the Diamond Light Source on Harwell’s Campus, as well as hearing talks from graduates and apprentices from a medical technology company and a fascinating insight into how to run a web design company. Each specific STEM career path highlighted the key messages of: do what you enjoy, and don’t be afraid to try new challenges.

Skills were a primary focus of the two weeks, with the students taking part in a series of workshops all designed to prepare them for ‘real world’ situations, such as having to present to a different audience, think critically about a problem or write a CV. With skills such as coding and data analysis in such high demand in the workplace, the students were given a basic introduction to how to use different tools to analysis data, process it and present it.

A highlight of the second week was a virtual tour of GKN automotive, where the students were given an overview of critical thinking skills. In doing so, they saw the process in action, where GKN changed their focus from designing, developing and building electrical engines to building respirators for hospitals during the pandemic.

To best replicate the scientific process, students were asked to come up with a research question and following the guidance set out by the British Science Association, take part in a research project that could entitle them to a GOLD CREST Award. The students came up with fantastic projects, given their limited resources, as they investigated areas such as skin cancer, stealth technology to battery technology and Brussel sprouts. The ideas the students came up with to investigate were so varied and interesting I couldn’t wait to see their conclusions. They were given amazing insights into different STEM career paths and skills that are being sought after by industry right now. I only wish there was something like this when I was growing up!

Our students said:

“The best bit about this week was learning more about the variety of careers that someone can have in STEM and also understanding more about different STEM companies.”

“The workshops provide helpful skills that aren’t often talked about very widely (such as Excel and coding skills) … very insightful and give us a better idea about the world after college.”

“This is the best meet ever!”

Find out more about our STEM Careers Programme.

For more information and to book please contact us at [email protected].

Blog by Christopher Duff, STEM Projects Officer

For teachers: we would welcome your feedback on our STEM Careers programme via a very short questionnaire. We look forward to seeing you this autumn!

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