We organise and host events with the aim of inspiring and engaging young people with the range of careers in the four STEM pillars – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Young people can develop their intellectual and creative abilities for the greater good by participating in STEM-based subjects. STEM education is one of our most powerful tools for promoting greater equality, increasing social mobility, and encouraging true individuality as future thinkers and creators.
We believe that the benefits of STEM should be available to everyone. However, due to outdated stereotypes, certain demographics are more involved in STEM than others. Our primary focus is on those who suffer from – poverty, social exclusion, financial hardship, deprivation and disengagement using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD 20) to identify key areas. The reason we do this is because we want young people to understand and learn the myriad of opportunities that are out there for them in the most engaging and inspiring way possible.
Prior to Covid-19, our events were large scale, interactive, face-to-face and engaged with up to 500 pupils. The arrival of the pandemic saw SmartSTEMs take their events online, streaming live into multiple classrooms at one time. These online, virtual events allowed us to reach out to more remote, geographically isolated areas of the country that had little access to STEM events or science museums. Going forward, we are excited to introduce a blended model utilising both virtual and face-to-face events which will see us reach more young people across the country ensuring everyone has access to inspiring role models and interactive workshops. Since 2016, SmartSTEMs have engaged with over 18,000 young people aged 10-14.
What is your role at SmartSTEMs?
I am a Programme Manager at SmartSTEMs. As part of my responsibilities, I oversee the activities we run throughout Scotland and the UK, which include planning, organising, hosting, and reporting on all events. Every day is different in this role; one day I am working with sponsors and volunteers, the next day I’m running events for schools. As part of my role, I also work with the team on funding applications to help us continue to expand our reach across Scotland and further afield. The work I do is extremely rewarding and varied, which is why I love this job.
Can you tell us more about My Job My Journey?
In October 2020, we launched the #MyJob #MyJourney campaign. Evidence tells us that if young people have a better understanding of what can be achieved and how it may be achieved, then unsurprisingly they will go on to achieve more themselves! Unfortunately, not everyone has access to people who have a story to tell, or indeed someone willing to tell it. Therefore, our aim is to create a repository for young people, teachers and parents to utilise. It will serve both as a truthful record of a volunteer's job and also as a practical guide for those considering following in their footsteps. To this end we are asking inspiring people, to paint a picture of their role in STEM. They can help young people to take the road less travelled and have a fantastic, stimulating career in STEM.
These videos are uploaded to our YouTube channel. Volunteers who have recorded a #MyJob #MyJourney video have the opportunity to attend our virtual events and participate in a live Q&A with the pupils. Currently, we have a collection of around 70 videos.
All these role models have different stories to tell whether it is where they come from, the route they took or how their gender/race/ethnicity was a potential barrier in their journey. Experience has taught us that pupils really connect with young professionals from a background similar to their own and this has an impact on their aspirations and goals in life.
What goals are SmartSTEMs working towards over the next 6 months?
Over the next 6 months we plan to return of many more face-to-face events alongside continuing virtual events to reach as many children as possible.
We will continue offering free events to schools across the country, ensuring all pupils, irrespective of economic status or geographical local have the opportunity to engage with STEM in an engaging way and meet inspiring role models who help the pupils to see themselves in STEM roles.
We have recently began working on two projects; Digital Dairy Chain and GCC Digital Skills. This has allowed us to expand our small team of 3 to 8 staff which is super exciting and allowing us continue to work our way through these projects and increase the number of young people entering the STEM industry.
What do you think are the benefits of working with Nine Twenty Recruitment?
Working with Nine Twenty Recruitment allows us to ensure the opportunities for manufacturing and indeed STEM as a whole are maximised and realised across Scotland.
Nine Twenty Recruitment are specialists in recruiting people into STEM jobs. They have a wide network base within the sector and help lots of people, like the young people SmartSTEMs engage with, into the correct sector for them. Working collaboratively with them only opens more opportunities for the young people of today.
What can supporters do to help support SmartSTEMs?
There are numerous ways for supporters to help out from spreading the message on social media to volunteering. Supporters can also host engaging, fun workshops, offer to be keynote speakers and hosting exhibitor stands at our events.
Supporters can also help SmartSTEMs by offering funding to help us continue to grow and expand our reach.
Funding will allow us to continue offering free events to schools across the country, ensuring all pupils, irrespective of economic status or geographical local have the opportunity to engage with STEM in an engaging way and meet inspiring role models who help the pupils to see themselves in STEM roles.
How do you get involved with SmartSTEMs?
Our events bring schools, further/higher education and industry all under one roof ensuring all parties involved are benefiting from a SmartSTEMs event.
For employers/companies, there are many ways to get involved with SmartSTEMs such as; offering staff to speak at in-person events, running interactive workshops and hosting exhibitor stands. Employees can also volunteer to help out with our #MyJob#MyJourney campaign. This would include filming a short 5-minute video regarding their job or journey in STEM, with the opportunity to attend our virtual events for a live Q&A with the pupils.
College or Universities can get involved with SmartSTEMs by hosting physical events at their campuses. In the past we have worked with GCU, UWS, Glasgow Clyde College and more.
For teachers, we can help alleviate their workload and offer free online workshops to help deliver their STEM curriculum in a new, exciting format. We work with a wide range of partners spanning all four pillars of STEM whose workshops promote interdisciplinary learning and cover various experiences and outcomes.
University students can volunteer at our in-person events and also participate in the #MyJourney campaign, where they can describe their path to the degree they're currently pursuing, cool projects they've worked on, and who inspired them when they were younger. This provides many benefits for students. Being a STEM Ambassador is about engaging and enthusing young people with STEM subjects.
Volunteers will help encourage students to consider further study of STEM subjects and progression into related careers, inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals. It offers the chance to give something back to education and the wider community, whilst giving volunteers the chance to develop their skills. This is also great for students’ CV’s as it shows potential and future employers that they care about the industry that they are studying in and want to make a positive impact. There are undoubtedly university students who can connect with work that SmartSTEMs does.
What events are taking place?
We have a variety of in-person and virtual events planned over the coming months. Still to confirm dates and locations.