The Cornwall College Group has been working alongside local schools to provide students with an inspiring crash course in studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
The STEM outreach activity, which was recently delivered by Cornwall College staff at Mount Hawke Academy over six weekly sessions, has been designed to raise awareness of the diverse range of exciting careers that exist within STEM subjects, uncovering the different professions and disciplines that the students may not have previously been aware of.
The activities that the year 6 students from the school were tasked with involved identifying a global issue to solve and producing a poster to illustrate a possible scientific solution that could be put into place. Students selected a range of topics to explore including the effects of global warming, marine conservation concerns and the area of biomimicry. Claire Jouvenat, the Year 6 class teacher at Mount Hawke Academy, said: “These sessions have excited the students about science, taught them things that they didn’t necessarily know about before and have just given them so much enthusiasm for what they’ve been doing.”
The activity ties into a wider initiative of raising aspirations in relation to studying STEM subjects that the College currently leads. Mark Nason, Director of Science & Natural Environment at The Cornwall College Group, said: “The intention of these activities is not to try to persuade children that they should be interested in science or that they should aspire to go to university- we make that very clear from the start. These kids do not lack aspirations, no children do, but they need our investment and support to realise the full range of opportunities that are available to them. We know that by working with primary age children particularly, we can have real impact. That’s the only way we can hope to fulfil the skills requirements of the UK STEM sector, but more importantly, STEM qualifications can provide social mobility and incredible opportunities for young people in Cornwall.”
During the final session, the students displayed their project work as poster presentations with parents and other guests invited to attend and discuss with the students what they had learnt. A prize was given to the most interesting project and was awarded by special guest judge Dom Ferris, Projects Manager for Surfers Against Sewage. Dom said: “It’s been fantastic to be involved; it always is when going into schools, especially at the year 6 level where the students are so full of energy. It’s all about trying to engage the children, inspire them, give them some new tools and give them the opportunity to use those new tools and it seems to me that this type of work does exactly that.”
Graeme Plunkett, Senior Secondary School Improvement Officer for Cornwall Council was also in attendance as a guest, Graeme said: “A raised awareness of STEM education and careers is important for Cornwall. We want more young people to embrace scientific careers and particularly fill those skill gaps we have in our local economy in several emerging areas where science skills and technical skills are really important. The young people coming through enthused about Science and the whole STEM range of subjects are going to be much more inclined to look at a wider range of courses in the future which of course will be good for the economy because they’re feeding their skills in, raising prosperity levels and their own children in turn will also have higher aspirations.”
For more information on the range of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths courses available across The Cornwall College Group visit www.cornwall.ac.uk or call 0845 22 32 567.