Young learners in Dundee are benefitting from exciting opportunities to develop their STEM skills thanks to a new partnership.
STEMovation connects Dundee Science Centre and Dundee & Angus College with local primary schools including Craigowl, Barnhill, St Mary’s and Forthill. More than 150 children are currently participating in monthly projects which are on public display.
The initiative has been developed and managed by one of Dundee’s Primary Science Development Officers (PSDOs) Sarah Hynie Klemen as part of the Raising Aspirations in Science Education (RAiSE) programme. It began in January and will continue in the next academic year engaging additional schools and pupils. Sarah said:
“Children love to be able to share their ideas, work, and efforts, taking their learning out of the classroom and meeting new people. This project is a great example of partners working together to really bring STEM to life. It has been a great success and it’s been wonderful to see the pride and excitement from the children and teachers.”
College students studying Applied Science are creating monthly challenges for the pupils, as part of their unit focussed on achieving the Young STEM Leader qualification. These have included topics such as chemical reactions in sweets, vertical farming, and bug hotels.
The children’s work is displayed at the Dundee Science Centre each month.
“We enjoyed the project because it was fun and didn’t feel like school even though we were learning a lot! The project tested our creativeness and our scientific brains.”
“I‘d heard of STEM but didn’t know what it meant. Now I know and I think I’d like a job that does STEM.”
“I thought the challenges would be hard but they were fun.”
Tristin Mullins is one of the students at Dundee and Angus College who has been involved in the project. He said:
“Personally, I have enjoyed developing activities for primary schools that are eco-friendly and promote the usage of recyclable and easily accessible materials. I feel that because we have presented activities that can be done by anyone regardless of access level, we’ve helped to remove barriers which some children may have previously encountered when engaging in STEM activities. Promoting excitement in children to pursue STEM subjects and showing them that STEM can be applied to anything, including adventures in their own backyard, has been a rewarding experience for me. I hope that the children who engaged with our activities had fun and feel like they could repeat those activities at their own home if they wanted to do them again.”
Dr Lorna McIvor, Science Lecturer at Dundee & Angus College, added:
“From my perspective I think the students have got a great deal out of being part of STEMovation. They have enjoyed coming up with the ideas and planning them, building their organisational and teamworking skills. Working up the projects from concept through to delivery of the finalised challenges has tested their communication and leadership skills, making sure the challenges were clear, understandable and that they all had a role to play in the development of the activities.
“They loved seeing the photographs of the challenges and used what they learned from seeing the outcomes of the challenges to improve how they built the next one. During the process they have learned about inequalities in STEM and the value of building science capital, trying hard to make the challenges sent out the schools as inclusive as possible. I am incredibly proud of the way they have embraced this opportunity to be involved and help others develop an interest in STEM whilst also developing their own skills as young leaders.
“I’ve loved the experience and really enjoyed seeing the students grow in confidence with each event they planned and really question their own bias and misconceptions about STEM.”
RAiSE is a programme of The Wood Foundation, Scottish Government, Education Scotland, and participating local authorities which empowers primary practitioners with the skills, confidence, and networks to develop and deliver exciting and motivating STEM learning experiences.
An example challenge based on dissolving –