I had been thinking of becoming a STEM Ambassador for a while and I finally took the bull-by-the-horns in January 2020; maybe the turn of a new decade was the final push that got me motivated?
What does STEM stand for and what does it relate to?
STEM in an abbreviation of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. So what?
The relevant point to make is that the UK government has identified a shortage of science graduates entering the jobs market. That shortage will filter through to the national economy leading to a degradation of the capacity of the UK to maintain its pre-eminence as a world leader in innovation. The reason for the shortage in science graduations is contentious and can range between a lack of government funding & support for science degrees and to science in further education to the perception that science is nerdy and dull. It certainly isn’t, as it provided me with fantastic opportunities to travel the world, see fantastic things and spend time living in diverse cultures & meet wonderful people.
So, what is a STEM Ambassador?
STEM Ambassadors are volunteers from a wide range of science, technology, engineering and mathematics related jobs and disciplines across the UK. They offer their time and enthusiasm to help bring STEM subjects to life and demonstrate the value of them in life and careers.
STEM Ambassadors volunteer their time as a resource for teachers and others to engage with young people inside and out of the classroom. STEM Ambassadors bring fresh inspiration to young people and present themselves as positive role models to school children as people that gain great enjoyment and fun from their jobs in STEM.
A dropping trend has been identified in teenagers in-regards to their interest in STEM subjects in general. Although both find STEM subjects interesting in the early teenage years their interest drops significantly as they approach adulthood and is the case for both Boys and Girls.
The Process of becoming an Ambassador
The process of becoming a STEM Ambassador is relatively straight forward. It is voluntary and requires the individual to be motivated to volunteer.
It begins with registering your interest via the STEM Ambassador website (URL provided below), completion of your Profile on the website and connection with your regional STEM hub (Wales, East Scotland, Southwest of England, Northeast of England etc.
Once registered you will attend a 2-hour induction session at a venue close to your home location where you will learn about the philosophy, intention and methods of the STEM Ambassador programme. During the induction programme you will need to provide some items of identification (Passport, Driving License etc etc) from which a (free of charge) DBS check of your details will be undertaken. This check is performed as the majority of your voluntary work will involve interaction with children of all ages.
Once the DBS is completed and passed you will receive a certificate that identifies you as a STEM Ambassador. From that point onwards you can attend careers and education events organised by Schools and Further Education Colleges.
What is expected of a STEM Ambassador?
Events within your geographical area of operation (defined by you) are posted on the STEM Ambassador hub from which you can elect to attend. The education institution is notified of your interest and will confirm or decline your attendance.
The expectation of a STEM Ambassador is to enthuse school children with the joy that STEM subjects bring and in doing so stimulate the children’s passion and involvement with STEM subjects that may lead to life-long careers in STEM subjects. Hopefully the Ambassador will demonstrate that Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics subjects are not boring, are not nerdy, are fascinating, are well-paid and can lead to travel and excitement but most importantly to fulfilled careers.
The benefits to the Ambassador include a feeling of reward in giving something back to a family of disciplines that have provided the Ambassador with a fulfilled career and a sense of achievement in seeing young-people take-up STEM subjects.