School is probably the first place where students first learnt about STEM subjects and, unless their parents are working in a STEM industry, it is likely that they haven’t been exposed to much STEM outside of school. Therefore, school is a great place to start getting students engaged in STEM subjects. Here are a few suggestions:
Running a fun STEM club at school can be a great way to encourage students to take part in small experiments, build robots or learn to program – whatever the teacher(s) running it are interested in, pass on that enthusiasm to the students! Younger students may engage more with fun hands-on activities, whereas sixth formers could be asked to give short presentations on interesting STEM topics or write entries to STEM competitions. For ideas of what to do, check out the STEM Clubs website for a collection of the best links for STEM clubs of all ages and durations.
In-school STEM days
Many universities offer local schools the opportunity for them to come in a give a half day or day of fun activities, talks or experiments for their students. There are also organisations which specialise in running fun science activity days, for example the Science Boffins, although these usually charge a fee. Even if you are unable to organise an external guest to run your school STEM day, why not organise one yourself using these free resources from the British Science Association? Arrange for teachers in relevant departments to design a fun experiment or class in their classroom, then rotate the students around each station during the day. You could include a project-making session too, then end the day with a competition as to who’s project was the best (e.g. if the project was building a mini robotic car, do a car race). Again, I’d recommend the STEM Clubs website for some fun project or activity ideas.
Invite a local STEM expert in to talk to students about their job/ research. This is a great way to promote possible fun STEM careers, particularly to GCSE and A level students thinking about their futures. A great resource for finding potential speakers is STEMNET, which runs a STEM Ambassador program. Alternatively, contact local businesses and universities to ask if they would be interested.
Schools can also organise trips to a whole range of different events. Get in touch with local universities to see if they would be willing to take students around their STEM departments and/ or put on a fun workshop, have a look if there are any public STEM lectures being held nearby, arrange a visit to a local engineering company, take a group of students to the Science Museum. No matter where you are, there will be STEM related organisations or events nearby!