STEM Person Of The Week Cymru - STFC role models in Wales (SPOTW Cymru)

Lead Research Organisation: Science made simple
Department Name: Head office


STEM Person of the Week (SPOTW) Cymru is an evolution of an established and evidence-backed initiative created, developed, and tested by NUSTEM at Northumbria University. SPOTW Cymru provides interventions - including a STEM Person Of The Week show, classroom resources and teacher CPD - serving a new primary schools' audience in Wales, where country-specific needs exist.

The project aims to tackle the barriers faced by young people who see STEM jobs as not for 'people like me'. What makes this different to other role model schemes is that it uses the attributes of people working in STEM that are then observed and highlighted in a classroom situation over a further 5 weeks during day-to-day teaching. These observations help to show students how they already have inherent skills that mean they could naturally 'belong' in a STEM working environment. By working with the teachers as STEM influencers and providing take home resources for students to share with parents there is added value to this STEM confidence-building activity. In addition, teachers gain a wider awareness of the diversity of jobs you can do with STEM skills, which helps build a legacy in their knowledge for years to come. Research conducted on the project to date has shown that the negative stereotypes of people working in STEM were reduced and some changes persisted for at least 12 months. The precursor project has so far been delivered by NUSTEM in 42 schools to over 10,000 students in England.

In the SPOTW Cymru project Science Made Simple (SMS) will expand this successful English initiative to respond to the needs of primary schools in Wales and provide localised connections for students to STFC connected staff who have Welsh heritage or another connection to Wales. The adoption of a new Curriculum for Wales provides an opportunity (and a need) to provide bilingual resources that focus on STEM skills and careers related experiences. Careers and work-related experiences (CWRE) are a core cross-cutting theme that schools now must address (in a similar way to the Gatsby benchmarks used in England). We propose that an adaptation of materials to involve SPOTW role models from Wales would help Welsh students see the local relevance of STEM jobs to them in their own region. In addition, we would aim to encourage that the scheme is adopted more widely across Wales and this will require the creation of bilingual materials and Welsh-language delivery being available to all.

SMS currently delivers STFC's Early Career Public Engagement training programme at the three main STFC facilities to encourage more participation from early careers staff in public engagement and outreach work. SMS aims to link SPOTW Cymru to those graduate and apprentice training cohorts to identify and invite participation from STFC people with Welsh connections, thereby providing an additional public engagement opportunity for those on this scheme.

As an additional motivation to schools, and to help raise the profile of the resources, we will build on the experience that Science Made Simple (SMS) has in delivering role-model themed interactive shows. In this way we are not just adapting the existing scheme with a Welsh flavour but also adding a face-to-face experience as a kick-start event in the school, alongside a series of teacher CPD training, and the option for parental involvement in the show itself. By using consistent evaluation tools with the wider programme this will allow us to test the impact the show has on the uptake and the engagement from schools. This learning will be shared back to the NUSTEM team and aims to enhance the sustainability and growth of the UK-wide programme long-term.


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