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24 July 2010 @ 01:11 pm
STEM Induction  
On Thursday I was "trained" to be a STEM Ambassador. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and STEMNET is a national public engagement network, primarily aimed at working with children. As a result we all had to be CRB-checked during the session. Or at least our CRB check had to be put in motion, which seemed to involve a lot of confusion about identity documents and proof of address.

The session was actually a lot more useful than many training sessions I've been on. There was a fair bit of useful advice on handling groups of children, with a rider that you should never be left alone with them and so should always be able to hand over to a teacher if necessary.

Mostly STEMNET acts as a brokering service, linking the volunteers with schools, charities and other organisations who are looking for someone to help with a lesson, careers day or other event but they also provide resources containing ideas for demonstrations and so forth. In the induction session we were all encouraged to try out a "science busk" which consisted essentially of a quick science-based trick or demonstration. I think I'd want a rather better grasp of the science behind each one than was provided before I did it in public, but none of them depended on particularly esoteric science so that wouldn't be that hard, I think. I certainly thought I might volunteer to science busk at the upcoming Manchester Science Festival.

I was interested to note that of 13 people attending the session, 10 were female, including the_ladylark to our mutual surprise. That ratio was striking considering that STEM is generally a male dominated area and I wonder if there is some cultural effect in play that makes public understanding work of this kind something of more interest to women than men.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/12941.html.
Gabbygabcd86 on July 24th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
David Cameron approves of your Big Societal gesture.

Out of interest, what maths-y busking are you thinking of doing? Will it be summat involving pretty shapes and graphs and stuff?

The wimmenzy nature of it may be down to the target audience - are they primary school kids? I never had any male teachers in primary school, and there were only about two in a school of 200-odd kids in my whole time there, excluding the headmaster who was replaced by a wimmenz in Y3. Not sure how much these observations actually hold up, but perhaps more wimmenz specialise in midgets, and the same might apply for that sort of thing. The ambassadors are people from their STEM-y fields, not teachers, right?
louisedennislouisedennis on July 31st, 2010 11:43 am (UTC)
The ambassadors are from STEM-y fields yes, but they are self-selected and I have no doubt that whatever effect causes the preponderance of female primary school teachers is having an effect.

I suspect I'll be busking something more sciency than mathsy since there are nice tactile and visual things you can do there.

You'll no doubt be pleased to hear that my CRB-check came through clear this morning.
Gabbygabcd86 on July 31st, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC)
Who did you bribe to get that through?
louisedennislouisedennis on August 1st, 2010 09:12 am (UTC)
Well obviously that would be telling.