How to Become a STEM Ambassador
STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) is a vast subject area, covering fields from medicine to rocket science, and everything in between. For this reason, it is crucial that our young people are introduced to these fields from an early stage and are educated on the important and rewarding nature of studying these subjects. It is here that the role of a STEM Ambassador comes into play.
What is a STEM Ambassador?
STEM Ambassadors are individuals aged 17 and over who come from a wide range of STEM-related backgrounds and who are at different stages in their career. STEM ambassadors may or may not have studied a STEM subject at university level, and rather are simply individuals with the desire to make a difference in the educational and professional lives of young people in their local community. New STEM Ambassadors will join an existing cohort of 37,000 STEM Ambassadors across the UK.
What do STEM Ambassadors do?
The role of a STEM Ambassador varies; however, all ambassadors will undertake similar responsibilities. Specifically, STEM Ambassadors will complete at least one voluntary STEM activity annually, however many ambassadors will do more than this, and no limit exists! These STEM activities take the form of anything from career focused talks to more practical STEM related workshops, modified to accommodate your audience, varying from primary and secondary schools to youth and community organisations to colleges. STEM Ambassadors offer over 500,000 hours of volunteering combined each year!
STEM Ambassador Training
When an individual makes the decision to become a STEM Ambassador, there is a large number of online courses which new and existing ambassadors can make use of. These free online training modules offer guidance on planning and delivering activities and well as how to identify activity resources and reflect on past activities. Further, training modules are available to aid communication, relationship building and one’s understanding of the curriculum among other helpful lessons.
Why Become a STEM Ambassador?
The benefits of becoming a STEM Ambassador are vast, however the STEM Ambassador Programme identify three main reasons why you may consider applying for the title.
Perhaps most obviously, by becoming a STEM ambassador you have a direct impact on the ability of younger people to not only engage in STEM learning, but to encourage an understanding of the applications of this learning. The comprehension of the real-world application of learning is shown to increase our likelihood to increase our interest in a topic , hence encouraging young people not only to participate in STEM learning, but to consider a career or similar further engagement in the field. This is especially important presently, with the Parliament’s Joint Committee on National Security Strategy referring to the skill gap in STEM fields as “a cause of alarm”. It is very possible that current STEM ambassadors will play a significant role in the effort to fill this gap between demand and skill.
In supporting this learning of real-world applications of STEM, STEM Ambassadors are further able to highlight roles which may have been previously unknown to young people. Not only is this beneficial for those sectors worst affected by the STEM skill gap, but this also allows for the discovery of both new roles and new pathways into further education and beyond. The introduction to new potential careers and an explanation of how skills can be applied to these roles is crucial for the awareness of transferrable skills and the benefit of participating in STEM learning. Once again, in having the opportunity to introduce this information to young people it is certain that STEM Ambassadors are inspiring involvement in future STEM related learning and work.
Of course, as a young person, being introduced to such a plethora of possible fields of study and work may feel overwhelming. However, by becoming a STEM ambassador, one is presented with the ability to both educate and inspire by offering encouragement and a positive learning environment. STEM Ambassadors act as roles models to young people, and as a member of the STEM Ambassador programme, one is rewarded with the knowledge that the young people you work with have the best possible chance to get involved in STEM.
Beyond the benefits STEM Ambassadors witness by educating and inspiring the younger generation, there are several personal benefits consequential of involvement in the programme. The STEM Ambassador programme recognises some of these to be a sense of achievement and reward, presentation skills, confidence and a sense of personal and career satisfaction. If this isn’t enough however, STEM Ambassadors further qualify for STEM Certificates and recognition in the STEM Inspiration Awards.
The Impact of the STEM Ambassador Programme: A 2021 Evaluation
STEM learning conducted an independent investigation into the impact of their programme on both ambassadors themselves, and the children involved sessions who ranged from primary to secondary students, exhibiting diversity in affluence and native language. Despite significant contrast between participants in sessions, interviews revealed consistent feedback relating to the topic of female involvement in STEM. It appeared a to be the opinion of both ambassadors and schools alike that access to STEM should be heightened for girls. Similarly, the point was raised that there is a great need to alter the stereotypes surrounding careers in STEM, broadening the image associated with different jobs in this area. Having identified the shared importance schools and ambassadors place on these factors, it is no surprise that schools regularly report the role of STEM ambassadors in raising the aspirations of young students and helping participants to extend their conception of who should study STEM subjects.
Perhaps most powerful in this report is feedback from a Newport teacher who explains of their pupils that “In the past 80% said they wanted to be Youtubers, vets, footballers or gamers”, yet following engagement with STEM ambassadors, “they are now considering career changes”. “I learned the importance of STEM within business, not just maths”, a testament to this idea from a Newham student.
Skyrora and STEM Engagement
Skyrora places huge importance on STEM engagement and has achieved runner up for multiple awards by the STEM Ambassador Programme, including the inspirational STEM Employer Award and the Outstanding STEM Ambassador Award, both awarded in recognition of those who make sizeable impact on the enthusiasm of young people to pursue education and careers in STEM subjects through long-term engagement with the STEM Ambassadors programme and by embedding the importance of STEM into the culture of the workplace.
This commitment to STEM engagement is clear in many aspects of what Skyrora does, for example the provision of educational articles, competitions and space related activities through our website and social media channels. As well as this, Skyrora is committed to exhibiting STEM engagement with those in the local community, visiting schools to discuss the space industry and the work we do.
For Skyrora, the inspiration and education of young people in STEM subjects is crucial for ensuring a diverse and passionate future workforce capable of advancing innovation in the UK space industry.
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