STEM4Me: A student-led STEM buddies scheme focused on enhancing primary school pupils’ STEM aspirations, widening participation and improving access to science

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsConference Presentation

Description

Purpose:
The paper describes a project involving undergraduate students running STEM-focused outreach events in primary schools. We will summarise the progress that has been made, and what has been learnt from the project.

Background

There is concern about young people’s diminishing interests in and affinity to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, especially given recruitment shortages in these key areas. The pandemic has interrupted children’s learning and restricted opportunities for them to engage in STEM outreach activities, especially for children with low cultural capital. These limitations further exacerbate the STEM crisis as well as the inequalities in career prospects and the attainment gap. Covid restrictions have also limited university students’ access to authentic placement activities, hence reducing opportunities to develop employability skills. It is therefore timely to address the issue of limited STEM affinity in young children and provide opportunities for students to enhance their employability through applied experiences.

Methods
The STEM Buddies scheme involves a series of outreach activities where university students (as ‘STEM buddies’) design and run workshops for children in local primary schools to engage them with Psychology and Sports Science. This initiative is designed to improve students’ employability skills by engaging them as partners who enthuse children about STEM subjects, particularly those who would not normally consider higher education as an option for them.

Conclusions
We argue that student involvement in outreach work like this has a range of benefits, including children developing positive STEM attitudes and increasing their science capital, and students enhancing their subject knowledge, identity and employability.
Period14 Sep 2022
Event titlePsychology of Education Section Annual Conference 2022
Event typeConference
LocationOxford, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational