What is STEM?
Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths qualifications (otherwise known as STEM) are accepted as essential tools for wealth-creation. The UK Government recognises that as a country we need to increase the number of people embarking on STEM based careers if the UK is to meet the skills challenge, in order to be globally competitive and to be a world leader in science-based research and development. A number of key strategies are now in place to develop a strong supply of scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians across the country.
The Government’s commitment to STEM
The Government has a number of dedicated programmes which are designed to encourage young people to improve their knowledge, understanding and attainment in STEM together with developing soft skills such as team work, problem solving, analysis and communication. Some examples include;
- The Science and Engineering Ambassadors Programme
- After School Science and Engineering Clubs
- STEM Access Grants
These strategies are designed to increase the number of young people entering STEM professions and to improve STEM literacy in the general population.
Reports published recently related to STEM;
The Supply and Demand for STEM Skills in the UK Economy- Research Report- 2006
SIIF 2004-2014 Next Steps- March 2006
SIIF 2004-2014 Progress Against Indicators-July 2006
The STEM Programme Report- October 2006
STEM Enhancement and Enrichment
Young people exposed to STEM curriculum enhancement/enrichment opportunities can gain an understanding and can develop an enthusiasm for those subjects that are often considered to be ‘hard’ to understand and do well in by young people. Perceptions about career opportunities in STEM can also be challenged in this way.
A curriculum enhancement or enrichment of STEM is something that provides the school curriculum with opportunities to deliver more relevant content. It can help to bring classroom sessions alive and to emphasize the applications of the curriculum in a work based situation. It should have one of or a number of aspects to it for it to be called an enhancement. It should:
- raise awareness of the impact of STEM in the community, industry and personally
- raise awareness of STEM careers and opportunities in industry and business
- be motivating and have engaging contexts to capture students’ enthusiasm be directly linked to industry and business
- engage with scientists, engineers and mathematicians using these skills in their jobs add value to the school curriculum whether that is improvement in attitude, motivation, creativity, enterprise, purpose, relevance etc
- challenge perceptions of STEM education
- raise aspirations and confidence in STEM education.
Regional STEM Support Centres are 'hubs' that provide up-to-date information, support and advice to schools about quality science technology engineering and mathematics activities that enhance and enrich the curriculum. The Centres enable schools to match their specific STEM needs with the opportunities and activities in their region to support the development of key skills for the young people. There will be a regional STEM Support Centre in every region in the near future (www.stemcentres.org.uk)
DCSF - funded “After School Science and Engineering Clubs”
The Government committed to developing the After School Science and Engineering Clubs in March 2006 in the Ten Year Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004-2014: Next Steps. The Clubs will contribute to ensuring that the UK has a strong supply of people with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills and to improve young peoples’ engagement and interaction with STEM.
The Clubs are aimed at:
- enriching, enhancing and extending the key stage 3 curriculum
- improving attainment in, interactions with and experiences of science among those pupils already showing interest and ability in these subjects
- encouraging these individuals to consider continuing their education in STEM.
- improving collaboration between schools, and between schools and industry and the research base
A key component of the clubs is that they must have involvement and support from those who lead in schools on all relevant subject areas – the sciences, mathematics and design and technology. The Clubs should also enhance the participants’ ability to see the “real world” context and applications especially of the subjects of physics, chemistry and maths,
See here soon for ideas on how to introduce Maths into your school clubs.
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