The Royal Academy of Engineering recently asked Rubicon Heritage to provide a STEM Ambassador for their annual STEM Careers and Activities Day in South Wales.
The aim of the day was to encourage 10 to 12-year olds from a variety of local schools into choosing STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as they progress their education. The Connecting STEM Teachers programme has been running for seven years and has created a UK-wide support network for STEM teachers through a chain of Teacher Coordinators providing free training and resources, and promoting collaboration. It is led by the Royal Academy of Engineering and has received generous support from Shell, the Helsington Foundation, Petrofac and Boeing UK.
Our local Teacher Coordinator, Peter Thomas, has run the annual STEM Careers and Activities Day since it began. Rubicon are very pleased be involved in making this year’s event the first time archaeology was represented. The organisers were especially keen to provide role models to encourage girls into science subjects, so we sent one of our Project Officers from the Cardiff office, Rachel Morgan, to chat with the children.
The set-up of the morning was very informal with groups of ten or so children at a time asking questions about the career paths of the Ambassadors and how they use the STEM core subjects in their everyday work. However, once the children realised archaeologists dig up treasure they became extremely interested in what the most valuable thing was Rachel had found! Many of the children asked very intelligent questions about what they needed to study to become archaeologists and if there were other non-academic skills which were also important. After Rachel had explained the variety of work and opportunities for travel in a career in archaeology, one astute child even asked: “Doesn’t it affect your social life?!”
Other Ambassadors on the day included engineers from the Engineering Education Scheme Wales, British Gas and GE Aviation, an astronomer and a geologist (with whom there was a ‘friendly’ competition to prove Indiana Jones was cooler than Jurassic Park – it was a draw). The children also took part in a virtual reality experience and problem-solving exercises to test their engineering skills, but the highlight of the afternoon was launching bottle rockets to see which team could get their highest.
One teacher said to Rachel after the event that one of her pupils now wants to be an archaeologist, so look out for him in ten years’ time!
See the Royal Academy of Engineering page for further information on the STEM programme and teacher coordinators:
Photo courtesy Peter Thomas (Royal Academy of Engineering), reproduced with permission.