Why STEM outreach is so important for inspiring the next generation
In March there has been British Science Week and National Careers Week. One thing that encompasses elements of both of these is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) outreach. Dr Catherine Ramsdale, SVP Technology at Pragmatic explains why this is so important for the young people and STEM professionals involved.
I have been a STEM Ambassador for many years and I have done a variety of different types of STEM outreach, including running a science club for 7-year olds, giving school assemblies about technology and participating in science evenings with scouting groups. I am amazed every time by the insightful questions that the children and teenagers ask. They don’t make assumptions and are very inquisitive, so whilst I am providing them with an opportunity to practise their scientific methods, they provide me with an opportunity to reflect on how to spot and challenge my own assumptions.
Taking part in STEM activities also means I have to find a multitude of ways to explain the same concept, depending on the experiences of those I am talking to. That’s a skill that translates well into work life when I am dealing with multi-functional teams or external collaborators who have different sets of knowledge to my own.
STEM outreach is something that Pragmatic is keen to encourage our staff to get involved with. Here are a few of my colleagues sharing their thoughts about the importance of STEM activities.
Improving young lives
Satyajit Das: Working as a STEM Ambassador has been full of challenges and great opportunities to learn about interesting topics. It’s exciting how technology is continuously expanding and evolving in almost every aspect of our lives, and STEM outreach events help the younger generation to understand what’s needed to deal with emerging technology and changes in society. After all, it will be the younger ones who will be shaping the future of this world, creating innovative technologies, working towards a cleaner greener environment, inventing life-saving drugs or developing ground-breaking solutions.
What drives me to be a part of STEM activities is the fact that it’s intellectually challenging, immediately applicable to society, and there is the potential to be able to unravel some of the mysteries of the universe. More importantly, it is a chance to start giving back to the community in a way that improves the lives of young people. Being a STEM Ambassador has also allowed me to refine and build on specific transferrable skills such as leadership, problem solving, decision making, communication, adaptability and self-confidence.
Ebony Birmingham: So far, I have only been lucky enough to participate in one face-to-face STEM event, as a result of COVID, but it was an encouraging and rewarding experience to see how interested and engaged the children were. I was immediately hooked and knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. I have always had an interest in maths and science, but when I was at the point of choosing my potential career path, I had little to no idea of what opportunities were out there for me. This is why I believe STEM events and STEM Ambassadors are so important and necessary. We are potentially missing out on some incredible additions to the industry!
Inspiring the next generation
It’s clear that STEM outreach offers immediate benefits to the children and the professionals involved, but these activities are also helping to prepare the world for the technological advances to come. Inspiring the next generations of scientists and engineers is key to addressing long term challenges that the planet faces, and that’s a very good reason to get involved and be part of the solution.
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