A platform that involves schools, teachers and professionals in STEM education support activities: motivating learning experiences, exposure to role models and real-world applications.
EDUCATIONAL LEVEL (age)
ANALYSIS OF INNOVATION
1. PROBLEM THAT THE INNOVATION TRIES TO SOLVE
Too many students are abandoning STEM subjects at school and university under the influence of stereotypes that label STEM professionals as “freaks”.
For girls, there is the added perception that “science is only for boys”.
Even when young people are studying for university degrees in STEM, they often end up in jobs outside this field.
2. WHAT SOLUTION IS PROPOSED?
STEMnet (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network) aims to change this perception and create opportunities to inspire young people in STEM.
By working with thousands of schools, colleges and STEM employers, its aim is to enable young people of all backgrounds and abilities to:
- Meet inspiring role models;
- Understand real-world applications of STEM subjects;
- Experience hands-on STEM activities that motivate, inspire and bring learning and career opportunities to life.
3. HOW DOES THIS SOLUTION WORK?
This is a platform, in operation for more than 10 years, that involves schools, teachers and STEM professionals with the aim of developing activities that support STEM education. It delivers three core programmes:
- STEM Ambassadors: professionals who come from a wide range of careers and professions, including environmental scientists, civil engineers, marine biologists, medical physicists, pharmacists, energy analysts, architects and games developers. They volunteer their time and support to promote STEM subjects to young learners in a vast range of original, creative, practical and engaging ways. STEM Ambassadors not only inspire young people, they also support teachers in the classroom by explaining current applications of STEM in industry or research.
- STEM Clubs Programme: support to schools that want to set up a STEM Club. The clubs are a fun and rewarding way to boost enjoyment and learning across STEM, outside the classroom. They allow pupils to explore, investigate and discover STEM subjects.
- School STEM Advisory Network: offers free, impartial, tailored advice and guidance to schools to enhance the STEM curriculum. It gives access to a range of services, resources, activities, toolkits and advice, which supports the curriculum. And it uses STEMnet’s business links and partnerships.
STEMnet’s programmes are delivered locally and regionally with national coordination. The network has contracts with 45 specialist organisations across the UK, which provide advice, services and fulfilment of requests for support at a local level. These organisations are the first point of contact for individual teachers, schools and STEM Ambassadors. This system ensures that the expert knowledge and advice is accurate, timely and relevant at a local level, while maintaining nationally consistent standards and measures of success.
This network is overseen by nine Regional Networks Managers, who are the first point of contact for employers, partner organisations, stakeholders and education providers on a regional basis.
4. IMPACT INDICATORS AND RESULTS
- Number of STEM Ambassadors: 26,000.
- Nine out of 10 secondary schools in the United Kingdom receive a visit from a STEM Ambassador at least once a year.
- Number of secondary schools affiliated with the STEM Clubs programme: 2,000 (as of 2010).
Independent evaluation of the STEMnet programmes by the National Foundation for Educational Research has shown that they work. The results show a positive impact on teachers and the employers who allow their staff to volunteer, as well as the STEM Ambassadors themselves.
STEM Ambassadors are seen by teachers as inspirational role models, able to motivate and enthuse pupils. They value their knowledge and insight into different career routes and pathways.
They hold similarly positive views of the support provided for STEM Clubs by STEMnet.
- 87% of teachers report an increased awareness of STEM subjects and their real-world applications among their students.
- 85% of teachers report increased pupil engagement in STEM subjects.
- 82% of teachers consider that STEM Ambassador activity improved pupils’ motivation and aspirations to study STEM subjects further.
The STEM Ambassadors programme helps teachers bring the real world of STEM into the classroom.
Teachers also gain an increased knowledge of STEM careers options and the skills required by such careers and report that they have improved relationships with business and industry.
- 77% report increased awareness of STEM career and employment options.
- 67% report increased use of real-life contexts in teaching.
- 61% of teachers reported an increased likelihood of remaining a teacher of STEM as a result of running STEM Clubs in their schools.
The positive impact on the young people is significant. Case study participants report that they most enjoy activities that challenge their abilities and cover a range of different topics.
Their involvement in STEM Clubs appears to be particularly effective, with 74% rating their club as either “very good” or “good”.
- On average, 55% of pupils around the country say they enjoy science. This figure increases to 71% for pupils who have had contact with a STEM Ambassador and 80% for STEM Club members.
- 62% of pupils say that they are doing well in science, increasing to 75% for those who have engaged with a STEM Ambassador and an impressive 84% for those who are members of a STEM Club.
- 49% of pupils who have had contact with a STEM Ambassador and 61% of STEM Club members want a job that involves STEM, compared with 37% of all pupils.
5. INNOVATION HIGHLIGHTS
- Effective, sustainable coordination between schools and companies.
- Effectiveness reported in the change of perception and motivation among students in regard to STEM.
6. GEOGRAPHICAL AREA
7. INCOME MODEL
STEMnet is an independent educational organisation funded by UK Government Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS); UK Government Department for Education (DfE); Scottish Government; and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation.