STEM - Dispelling a few myths

11th January 2013 at 00:00

What it's all about

We are told that science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) disciplines are crucial to the UK economy and that there are widening skills gaps in these sectors. Yet the myths that "engineers have no social skills and work in dirty environments" and scientists are "super clever, wear glasses and only work in labs" still prevail, writes Michael Hancock - particularly among girls, ethnic minorities, pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and those who may be the first in their family to consider higher education.

To tackle this issue, I took pupils to one of the First Edition days run by education charity EDT. Hosted by universities and schools, these are designed to make young people aged 11-16 aware that STEM careers are a real option, and inspire them with practical challenges that link the science classroom to the world around them.

Pupils looked at the range of careers in science and engineering while trying some hands-on activities that inspired them.

The main focus was researching our carbon footprint and alternative sources of energy. We discussed ways of harnessing the sun's power, then pupils had to design their own solar oven and test it by trying to heat a mug of water.

These First Edition days have changed the perspectives of many, quite possibly setting them on a path towards a STEM career, as well as making them consider university.

For more information on First Edition, visit

What else?

Give TESGA's top 10 STEM tips to parents and help them to support their children's career choices. bit.lystemTIPS

To become a STEM ambassador, check out TESGA's advice on getting started. bit.lystemAmbassador.

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