Do you want to explore your passion for a STEM subject or find a way to demonstrate it on your sixth form/ university application, but don’t want to spend too much time, effort or money? Here’s some easy ways to do so cheaply at home!

Online MOOCs

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are available online from a wide range of universities and providers for anyone to take, covering a huge range of subjects. They are usually free of charge (although if you want a shiny certificate you may wish to pay a small additional fee) and may be either fixed schedule or self-paced. They are a really great way of demonstrating the skills needed to study at university, since you must be self-motivated, work without supervision/ tutoring, and passionate about your subject.

MOOC providers I would particularly recommend are:


There are thousands of books out there on every STEM topic – from fun popular science books to university level textbooks. Your school library probably has a collection available to loan, as should most local public librarys. Alternatively, try browsing on Amazon or Ebay for some bargains! You don’t just have to limit yourself to books either, there are lots of science news websites and magazines such as the New Scientist too – just google what you’re interested in!

If you intend to write about your extra reading on your university application, make sure to discuss what in particular you found interesting or learnt – anyone can look up a few book names online, but by giving your own opinions you demonstrate you actually read and thought about the content.

Home Science Experiments

This is perhaps one for the younger readers out there, but there are loads of fun science experiments you can do at home using simple household items. A great way to spend a rainy day learning about some cool science tricks!

Here’s a few great websites listing examples:


Have a search through the database section for currently open competitions you could enter. These could be anything from large science projects to writing a short essay, and winning or being shortlisted in such a competition is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge! You could also win some great prizes! Many competitions are run annually, so if you see one on the database that’s not currently active make a note of it ready for next year.


What better way is there to demonstrate your interest in a subject than by writing about it? Using or similar websites you can create a great looking blog in under 5 minutes. Stuck on what to write about? How about discussing your opinions on recent engineering news, writing about your home science experiments, or posting challenging maths puzzles? Don’t want to commit to your own blog, but still want to share your experiences of STEM? Then get in touch!


Sue Ormerod · January 19, 2016 at 9:00 pm

Hi Katie, great web site, I cannot get the data base to work – the drop downs don’t retract once you have selected.

    admin · January 21, 2016 at 3:19 am

    Hi Sue, thanks for checking out the website! I’ve had a look and am having the same issue – however you can manually retract the drop downs by clicking the arrow button (the one you originally click to expand the drop-down), or at least that’s working for me (Chrome web browser). It’s a bit of a pain though I agree, I’ll have a look and try to fix the problem.

Sue Ormerod · February 6, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Hi Katie,
Thank you, I am now able to retract the drop downs. Is there a simple way to search all Summer School courses or competitions. The page on your old web site that showed all of the different competitions, courses etc. by year group (GCSE, AS etc) was really helpful, what is the simplest way for me to access this information. Hope you are well. Best wishes, Sue

    admin · February 14, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Hi Sue,
    Sorry for the late reply. You can view all database entries for a particular year group by just selecting that year group in the database and leaving the rest of the boxes blank 🙂 To narrow the search down more, start filling in the other boxes with your requirements.

    Eg, to view all opportunities for AS students, just click “AS” and leave all other boxes blank. To view all AS summer schools, select “AS” for the year group and “summer school” for the opportunity type, leaving all other boxes blank.

    Hope this helps! I’ll add some clarifications to the database page to explain this.

    Thanks for the useful feedback!

Lancaster University FREE AS Summer Schools: Medicine; Biomedicine; Biochemistry; Science and Technology – STEMBoost · December 26, 2020 at 8:57 pm

[…] on their website. Interested in other ways to explore your subject for free or from home? Check out these suggestions! Can’t make the Lancaster University summer school dates? Then check out similar […]

How to decide which STEM degree is right for you? – STEMBoost · December 26, 2020 at 9:27 pm

[…] this could be through a university or an online forum such as the student room. There are loads of ways you can explore your interest in a  subject for free from home – and these can not only give you an insight into whether you would like to study it at […]

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