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How our STEM Ambassadors inspire early years children in STEM

Published: Jul 1, 2022 4 min read


Over the last two decades, our fantastic STEM Ambassador volunteers have been inspiring young people by providing real-life contexts around the many benefits of a STEM career – and did you know that they’re available to support early years children too?

We're currently celebrating the 20th anniversary of the programme, and just one of the fabulous ways Ambassadors are laying the foundations for a STEM career for KS1 and KS2 is an ‘Engineering Fairytales’ scheme which was the brainchild of STEM Ambassador and qualified teacher Helen Heggie.

Helen is a director at consultancy STEMFirst which aims to help young people develop STEM skills – with a particular focus on engineering.

Helen said: “These fairytales feature children as young as three building the solution to a problem that a fictional character has. An example we use is when The Gingerbread Man, The Goat and The Wolf have reached the river and need to get to the other side, but their boat is broken - so the children have to build a boat. We also use Jack and the Beanstalk where children have to create a way of protecting the golden egg.

“I created Engineering Fairytales a few years ago and they’ve been a massive success, thousands of pupils have taken part.”

Our strategic partner BAE Systems liked the idea so much that they have funded Helen to deliver CPD and produce a virtual version which was viewed thousands of times as pupils switched to remote learning during the pandemic.

Another great project which a STEM Ambassador has been heavily involved in is ‘Reading is STEMsational’. Ali Christoffer is operations manager at All About STEM Ambassador Hub, and teamed up with Heather Wright from Reading Rocks to launch this STEM-focused, primary literacy project.

Ali said: “The heart of the project was the desire to use great books to inspire a love of STEM, and STEM topics to inspire a love of reading.

“We curated three sets of texts for all ages of primary school children themed around Conservation, Blue Planet and Engineering, each linking to the National Curriculum for Science for Years 1-6. Schools were then offered the loan of the book sets to use as the basis for a week of STEM activities in school.

“Teachers are encouraged to incorporate their own new ideas and mould a project that is appropriate to their school’s intake and local area. 

“The driver behind the project, however, is not curriculum delivery. The curriculum, rather, becomes the vehicle for supporting the pupils’ acquisition of science capital and development of careers awareness and aspiration.

“Schools are provided with a two hour staff CPD session, which briefly explores the importance of careers education at primary age, the research behind the science capital teaching approach, enrichment activities and the Reading is STEMsational model. Schools are then expected to develop a week of activities, focused on the theme of their loaned book set, enhanced by a range of student, parent and community enrichment and engagement activities, including STEM Ambassador engagement. 

“Ten schools have engaged with the project so far and have been able to deliver school STEM weeks with a wide range of activities that have supported students’ acquisition of science capital and careers awareness.

“As a result, in the second phase of the project, All About STEM sourced funding from Unilever Port Sunlight R&D to enable delivery of the programme to three local primary schools as part of the company’s Primary Excite outreach project. All About STEM provided consultancy support for the development of Unilever STEM Ambassador activities to complement the Conservation book sets - and the funding helped to cover the additional costs of providing the project to the three schools.”