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C-Tech Innovation is proud to be supporting STEMNET, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Network. STEMNET is an educational charity that encourages pupils to participate in science and engineering-based subjects and to remain in the field for further education and eventually for work. STEMNET ambassadors are people in academia and industry working in STEM fields who volunteer to share their time and expertise with schoolchildren.

C-Tech Project Manager Hannah Newton led the recruitment charge after serving as a STEMNET ambassador in previous years, and she will be joined this time around by Jen Sutton, Lisa Jones, Ed Jones, Xavi Zimunya, Emma Clarke, Pete Lomas, Clare Downs, and Don Eaton.

The scheme is hugely rewarding for ambassadors and excellent for honing their communication skills, something that is arguably hardest with a non-expert audience. The activities that ambassadors can get involved in range from giving talks about their career and pathway to it, classroom activities or after school clubs, to national schools events such as The Big Bang science festival. Teachers can request ambassador support and then MerseySTEM circulate the request to ambassadors, or ambassadors can create their own activity and log it on their profile. The students get the novelty (and authenticity) of a new person in their classroom who works in a STEM field, careers advice and points of view that schools can no longer provide, hands-on experience with STEM subjects.

Hannah Newton, C-Tech Project Manager and STEMNET Ambassador

The 2011-2015 evaluation report from STEMNET surveyed over 400 teachers, of which 87% of teachers report an increased awareness of STEM subjects and their real world applications amongst their students as a result of STEMNET’s programmes. Our STEM Ambassadors have participated in a wide range of outreach events to-date, and engaged with students of all ages from primary through to A-level. Here are a few highlights:

Jen Sutton, Project Manager, and Xavi Zimunya, Research Scientist, delivered two science assemblies to Horns Mill Primary School to excite the Key Stage 1 and 2 students with demonstrations of scientific principles in action. The experiments involved student volunteers helping with a balloon race, moving a can without touching it and a fantastic foaming fountain created out of a drinks bottle. One student was heard saying when they left that they wanted to be a scientist when they’re older!

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Jen and Xavi showing the students of Horns Mill Primary how to move a can with a balloon and the static electricity generated from rubbing it on their own heads.

Lisa Jones, Project Coordinator at C-Tech Innovation, recently went to Tarporley High School to offer her enthusiasm and experience on a ‘Maths spring-board day’ where ambassadors from industry show students how they use maths in their daily work life. Lisa shared with the students how frequently she needs to use her maths skills acquired at GCSE to ensure project finances and budgets are correct and on track.

Don Eaton, Research Technician at C-Tech Innovation, hosted a C-Tech stand at a careers fair at Pensby High alongside 20 exhibitors from Higher Education and Industry. Don took along fellow technician, Joe Pemberton, who joined C-Tech through an apprenticeship scheme. The C-Tech stand gained a great deal of interest as Don and Joe had taken along a 3D printer, that they set printing the ‘wrench’ that NASA emailed to the International Space Station in December 2014 for the astronauts to 3D print. Even the other exhibitors were drawn to the C-Tech stand, which also had a Flow Visualisation cell and a couple of puzzles for the students try and put their scientific knowledge in action.

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Joe helping out at the C-tech stand at Pensby High.

Hannah Newton, Project Manager, went along as an assessor to the Engineering Development Trust Celebration and Assessment Day (CAD) at Liverpool University in April to assess 5 of the 40 projects that students aged 16-17 in the northwest had undertaken. The projects are set each year by companies based on real, ongoing problems in their businesses. The students undertake a mini research project with the support of engineers from the sponsoring companies and then present the results at the CAD day. The day was wholly inspiring for the future of engineering, with all the students Hannah assessed keen to show their interest and understanding in their projects.

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The St Edwards team receiving their certificates for their civil engineering project with Royal Haskoning at the University of Liverpool Celebration and Assessment Day for the Engineering Education Scheme.

STEM are aware that industry ambassadors open the doors to a world of opportunities and possibilities which come from pursuing STEM subjects and careers. STEM Ambassadors not only inspire young people, they also support teachers in the classroom by explaining current applications of STEM in industry or research.

Offering the experience and knowledge of professionals working in STEM fields is a great way to interest more students in pursuing science and technology courses, and the STEMNET programme is doing superb work in helping this happen. The organisation reports that after engaging with a STEM Ambassador 76% of pupils think science is important for everyday life. C-Tech is delighted that so many of our staff are helping the cause, and we are looking forward to hearing more about the ways our ambassadors are contributing to science and technology in the Chester, North Wales and Merseyside regions.