Giving back the wonders of science


Helping enthuse young people about the wonders of science is important to Amelia Couldrey, so three years ago she signed up to be a HR Wallingford STEM ambassador.
In this article, she explains why she got involved, what she has been doing to inspire the next generation, and how she has benefited too.

"I was very fortunate when I was growing up that my mum was very invested into taking me along to as many science outreach events as she physically could. I remember visiting space agencies, museums, laboratories, science education centres and so on. Without this exposure to science at a young age I most likely wouldn’t be working for HR Wallingford now. And so I am hugely grateful to all of those who put together these engaging events.

By becoming a STEM ambassador I wanted to provide others with access to the wonders of science and give them the opportunity to investigate the potential for a career in the STEM subjects. In January 2017, HR Wallingford ran a half-day induction course into becoming a STEM ambassador. A STEM officer gave 24 of us at HR Wallingford a short introduction into what being an ambassador entailed and how to run an effective STEM activity.

Since becoming a STEM ambassador I have provided three STEM activities at local primary and secondary schools. We are asked to do at least one per year. One of these activities was through a call placed on the STEM website, where schools can request ambassadors for specific activities, whilst the other two were through work connections.

For one event I was given a simple brief – to deliver a primary school assembly for 5-11 years olds about the coasts and oceans. I provided the school with a few areas in which I have good background knowledge: shipwrecks, offshore wind farms or microplastics in our oceans, from which they picked the subject of microplastics. My aim was to keep the assembly as interactive as possible; I brought with me a large number of props and kept the kids engaged by asking for volunteers. It was a big success and the school have since asked me to come back and present another topic of my choosing.

As well as being great fun and gaining a lot of joy from seeing the spark of excitement as the kids engage with your science, being a STEM ambassador is great practise for public speaking and for engaging with a non-specialist audience. Plus, it is a great way to make you re-think and develop your own research."

The STEM ambassador scheme is run by STEM Learning, which emails a list of schools (by region) looking for assistance. Some schools also approach HR Wallingford directly when looking for ambassadors. It’s not just about standing up in front of a group of students, there are also opportunities to engage with children online or in small groups. 

For safeguarding, STEM Learning organises an Enhanced Disclosure Check for its volunteers. 

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What is the STEM ambassador scheme?
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