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STEM Careers on the Horizon for Oxfordshire secondary schools

Tuesday 1st August 2017

This summer Science Oxford held its third STEM Experience Week, which proved to be a huge success once again. The aim of the week was to provide secondary school students from Oxfordshire aged 14 to 15 with an exciting hands-on opportunity to learn about the wide variety of businesses and careers available in STEM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) throughout the region.

The week ran from the 3-10 July and was attended by 20 enthusiastic students from four different Oxfordshire schools. Throughout the week, the students visited nine companies. Each visit included a tour of the facilities, a hands-on activity or practical experiment and information about career opportunities within the organisation.

The week started with a visit to Solid State Logic in Yarnton where the students visited the recording studios, gained a broader perspective of how the music/recording industry works and learnt how mixing decks are developed, made and shipped.

“I found experimenting with the audio equipment most enjoyable because it is an opportunity hard to come by” 

Tuesday morning saw a visit to the engineering firm Atkins. As well as hearing about careers in architecture and engineering, the students had to design and build a tower and save Oxford from floods using a detailed Lego model of the city and brown Lego bricks representing sand bags. Students were scored on how many buildings they could protect and how many “sand bags” they used.

“This has been the best yet.”; “I would like to work for Atkins because of the range of careers and the amount of creativity and opportunities involved.”

On Thursday, the students visited Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Didcot, where they learnt about Cystic Fibrosis using custard filled gloves and tubes of sticky mucus. They also had a tour of the chemistry and biology labs where they were treated to demonstrations of DNA extraction and cell culture.

“Vertex looks like a really community based workplace – they even have a cake club! I really want to work there.”

The week also included visits to MRC Harwell, Viridor at Ardley, Oxford University departments of Physics, Microbiology and Oncology and the University’s Museum of Natural History.

Feedback from the students, schools and companies was overwhelmingly positive, with 90% of the students saying they would recommend the week to future year 10 pupils.

“It’s very beneficial to people who aren’t sure what they’d like to do”; “It makes you aware of the range of professions and you gain a massive insight into the scientific workplace.”

Science Oxford is pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to young people which helps them make informed decisions about what subjects to study after GCSE. It also provides them with an insight in to just how fun and interesting STEM careers can be.

If you would like to find out more about the STEM Experience Week, please email [email protected] or visit our STEM Horizons online careers resource.

Blog by Karen Bell, STEM Projects Manager at Science Oxford


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