Our future in STEM

28 January 2021
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Hi everyone, this is my first blog post so go easy on me !

My name is Naomi and I’m one of the STEM ambassador’s for 3DW.

I can’t believe we’re now in January 2021 and it already feels like déjà vu. Nobody could have anticipated how dramatically our lives would change last year, when lockdowns, travel restrictions and social distancing rules came into place our STEM programme was put on hold.

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It’s now been over 3 years since I first got involved in the delivery of STEM activities for 3DW. It has been a privilege to work on the programme which includes the planning and financial process for building an onshore or offshore windfarm.

The students are split up into groups at random and then are assigned a job role within their team. During the day the students will plan where they will build their windfarm on a 2D map, create a 3D version of their windfarm using 3D software and plot a cable route, see their designs in the occulus rift, work out the financial costs of their windfarm and then produce a powerpoint presentation which is shown at the end of the day, outlining the pros, cons and profit or loss from their windfarm.

3DW has gained positive feedback over the years from students and teachers who have found the STEM workshops insightful and beneficial in helping to develop a range of personal skills which will help them in their future career path.

In 2020, 3DW were granted funding from the Orsted community fund to provide 12 STEM workshops to year 8 students in schools on the North East of England. All of the 12 workshops had been scheduled but unfortunately they never went ahead due to the pandemic.

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It seems like forever since me and the STEM team we’re travelling to different schools right across the country and hosting events across Europe and America, participating in STEM activities with excited students.

The main purpose of the running the workshops is to engage people from different age groups in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. It also encourages creativity, problem solving and innovation to help the next generation with adapting to challenges they may face in the future.

In 2019, statistics showed that only 26% of graduates in STEM related subjects were female compared to 75% male. Women in STEM, as a female myself I think it’s important to influence other females to develop an interest in STEM to bridge the huge gender gap in this field.

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Although this year has begun with a bumpy start I feel optimistic that the current situation will improve as the year goes on. I think that being stuck within the same four walls everyday has had a significant impact on people’s mental wellbeing and once circumstances change many will be eager to get back into a learning environment where they can enjoy taking part in group activities. This leads us into working out how we can make this possible in the current circumstances.

Since the STEM team haven’t been able to do face to face STEM workshops they have been thinking of different ways to deliver them remotely. Online workshops can be more challenging as they require the participant to be self motivated and disciplined.

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Towards the end of last  year, the 3DW STEM team discussed ideas on how we could deliver the STEM workshops online successfully and make them accessible for every school. After breaking down the workshop activities throughout the day we realised there would be some challenges.

Despite all the concerns raised we have found that where there are problems there are solutions. The STEM team have already begun testing the workshop remotely through Microsoft Teams and we are hopeful that in the near future we can reach out to a wider audience by creating new possibilities with our STEM workshops online as well as in person. 

Speak again soon

NM

Credits. Infographic from @pixabay

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