Schoolchildren often wonder what the life of a scientist is like, and last month they got the full conference experience through our Fantastic Futures event in Newcastle’s Discovery Museum, partly funded by an IOP Schools Grant.
Around 280 10- and 11-year-old pupils from seven primary schools got the chance to find out what it’s like to go to an academic conference. They registered for the event and received name badges and delegate bags containing activities and literature about STEM careers, and sat through presentations from speakers talking about their professions – some of which required audience participation.
There were interactive sessions in which the children worked together with others from different schools to learn more about different STEM professions and undertake practical activities relevant to careers in those industries. Crossword puzzles and games allowed them to learn in a fun way about the variety of careers in STEM and the qualities and qualifications required for each type of post.
Gill Hardy of Proctor and Gamble spoke about how one’s chosen occupation can benefit others around the world as she demonstrated a product used to clean water in disadvantaged countries.
Suzanne Sherriff from Engie explained some exciting developments in technology, particularly in robotics. She said that roles in these areas require enthusiastic and hardworking people to pioneer them, and spoke about challenging gender stereotypes.
Cathy Rooney spoke about sports and the different careers in sport including sports coaching, which is her field of expertise. She referred to various medical professionals involved, such as nutritionists, psychologists, physiotherapists and chiropractors.
The session What’s My Line included guests working in computer game design at Open Lab, gas engineering from British Gas and electrical engineering from Northern Power Grid, including different career paths – some involving higher education and others apprenticeships.
HMRC staff talked about how government organisations can offer roles in a variety of areas at different levels with staff coming from an assortment of career backgrounds.
Feedback obtained after the conference demonstrated that the day impacted upon the children’s career aspirations, with many developing a thirst to learn more about those roles and developing interests they hadn’t considered.