STEM Ambassadors have a positive impact on their own organisations, bringing back new skills and experiences, while also raising the profile of their industry and promoting positive images of STEM at work.
This page profiles some of the STEM Ambassadors working in Wales and provides examples of how their involvement makes a difference.
STEM Ambassadors are volunteers of all ages working in a range of STEM-related roles from apprentice engineers to geologists and nuclear physicists to zoologists. Not only do they have a lot of fun, but they get an opportunity to contribute to their local community and boost their skills and confidence.
Click on the headings below to expand the content for each profile. Clicking on another heading automatically closes the one previously open.
I have been a doctor working in the NHS for the past 25 years. I am a GP, with a special interest in neurodiversity, and an Associate Professor for Primary Care within Swansea University Medical School where I am one of the team that oversees the teaching and learning of medical students and Physician's Associates.
I have wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember. I became a doctor because I genuinely love people and I genuinely want to make a difference to people's lives. How better to do this than through studying medicine? Science underpins medicine. All the innovations that we use every day are as a result of science. From blood tests to X-rays, from painkillers to cancer treatments. The equipment we use to diagnose and drugs we use to treat. Medicine IS science but it is more than science. Medicine is essentially the application of scientific knowledge in order to make a difference to people's lives.
I am passionate about equality. In 2019 I was awarded the BMA Teaching and Learning Innovation Award and the overall Clinical teacher of the Year Award for my work on widening access to medicine and developing recruitment initiatives in primary care and in under-served communities.
My favourite part as a STEM Ambassador? Supporting those students who want to become Tomorrow's Doctors.
Firstly my family, I want to make my sons proud and make sure they have a strong female role model in their life. Secondly the amazing volunteers we have with Show Me The Science, I'm so incredibly proud of them they do a brilliant job each and every time we attend an event. I work in healthcare and part of my role and the lab I work in is to help diagnose cancer, so I'm truly inspired by our patients and their support network.
I didn't enjoy science at school but I was encouraged to always learn by my grandad so when it came to me leaving school and looking for a job he knew a lab manager at the local hospital who showed me around. Seeing the difference between science taught in school and how that knowledge is applied in a practical way is very different….and I loved it. I always thought of science as just being research but this showed me a different profession and one that I was very keen and interested in as it was helping those people when they most needed it. That was over 20 years ago and I've worked in various disciplines of biomedical science within pathology departments and have now settled within histopathology which is where we look at diseased tissue.
I really didn't enjoy school. I wasn't academic and only enjoyed the more artistic subjects. I always got the worst grades for science and didn't engage at all, I didn't understand physics or chemistry but liked biology which is one reason why I think healthcare suits me and I suit working in healthcare. I just about managed a grade C in science for my GCSE's but I really found my confidence when I went into years 12 & 13. I reluctantly did a GNVQ in science, this qualification is redundant now but it was a vocational based qualification compared to the academic A-levels. I didn't really want to study science but felt I should as it would probably give me better career prospects compared to other GNVQ's on offer at the time. I did quite well at college and completed my GNVQ with a merit grade, but I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do as a career. I was really keen to go into physiotherapy but was told a few years previously that it was highly doubtful I'd get any of my GCSE's so forget about applying to do A-levels to get to university. However I found myself completing further education with a scientific qualification and a newly found confidence so I went to university to study human biology, which didn't go to plan as I had fallen ill and had to miss a few months so in between repeating part of the year I went to look around a hospital lab back home and started working voluntary.
I started by working voluntarily as a medical laboratory assistant (MLA) in my local hospital biomedical science lab within the histopathology department and I was there for nearly a year. I then moved over to biochemistry as they had a full time MLA role and I stayed there for nearly 3 years. It was during this time I met my now husband and decided to move to Cardiff. I managed to get a job as an MLA at University Hospital of Wales where I was very fortunate to rotate around many various labs. I've worked in blood bank, haematology, and newborn screening which is a specialist department that tests mother's blood to assess the risk of the child having downs syndrome. I was very lucky to attend University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC) which is now Cardiff Metropolitan University to complete an IBMS accredited HNC in Biomedical Science. I completed this as a day release from work, which meant that I could still work full time, go to complete my course one day a week and I also had a young family during this time. Completing my HNC allowed me to progress in my career and I successfully applied for an Associate Practitioner role within histopathology.
I took a break for a couple of years to look after my family but returned 6 years ago to an associate practitioner role but this time within a very specialist histopathology department that specialises in head and neck pathology. We are the only unit of its kind in Wales and I'm very proud of that fact, it means that our patients have the best care they possibly can. It's during the last 6 years and with incredibly support and encouragement from my colleagues that I've become a STEM Ambassador and I've recently completed a PGCert in Science Communication and Public Engagement. I completed this course as I'm a co-founder of a science outreach group called Show Me The Science, we host workshops at school and attend festivals to promote science, introduce scientific careers and engage the public in science.
My grandad has been one of the biggest positive influences in my life, anyone who knows me knows that he is my absolute hero. He's always encouraged us to learn, never stop learning, always ask questions and to take opportunities as the arise. Although I have to admit I wasn't keen that he was so keen on me learning science and maths as these were my worst subjects at school. However in hindsight I really feel that having a negative relationship with science at school and now having such a hugely positive experience of it in my working life has made me a better STEM ambassador.
My favourite task of the day is helping the consultant during dissection which is sometimes called grossing. This is when we receive a specimen and the consultant will have a look at it, describe it and sometimes photograph the specimen. It's my job to write the description they give and then assist them if photos are required. I love this part of my job as it's when we really get to see what we are dealing with, our consultant pathologist is brilliant, he will always explain and show me why he's making note of a particular anomaly. Another aspect of my work I thoroughly enjoy is the highly skilled job of microtomy. Microtomy is when really thin sections (4µm thin) are cut from a piece of tissue, this forms a ribbon which gets floated on a warm water bath. We then carefully have to pick up one section of this ribbon onto a slice which then goes for staining. We get externally assessed on the quality of our slides so we need to make sure that there are no tears or folds in the section we select for the slide. Overall though I love that the small part I play in the NHS has a huge impact on patient care.
I have to be honest and say that my bad days are when we see specimens from patients who are very sick. I hate the fact that there are some occasions where my best will never be good enough for that patient. However when these cases come along I remind myself that all we can do is provide an accurate diagnosis which is just as important in management of a disease even if it's not treating the disease.
My grandad has always been an advocate for learning. He's 92 years old and still enjoys learning new things which is a massive inspiration to me. He's always told me to keep learning. Also I have to say that I've always been encouraged to pursue any new venture that has been presented to me. My colleagues and consultant have, and still do, back me in anything I do. It's because of them that I've had some amazing opportunities that I may not have had the chance to experience had I not been encouraged by them.
As easy as it is to say my advice would be to never give up. "No" doesn't have to mean never, it can just as easily mean "not right now", so with this in mind you need to create your own opportunities, this shows resilience, determination and forward thinking. In hindsight I'm quite glad I fell ill, as it meant I got to spend some time in a biomedical science laboratory and found that it was the career I had been looking for. So even though things might not work out as planned, don't be disheartened turn this into a positive experience and figure out a different path to your destination.
I love to draw and sketch. I'm not saying I'm any good but I really find it relaxing and it's a great way to escape from the pressures of life. I also like to read, I'm a huge fan of the Kay Scarpetta series written by Patricia Cornwell. During lockdown I've found reading the real life stories of Adam Kay very uplifting and humbling. Also I have to say that I'm a massive fan of Lego, so when my boys ask if I can help them build something I jump at the chance to spend time with them building Minecraft Lego sets (it's my guilty pleasure!!).
I'd like to complete the sign language course I've started. It's really important for me to try and be as inclusive as I can be with the events I attend with Show Me The Science and the HIRB unit at Coed Glas Primary School was a huge inspiration for me to take up sign language.
I've recently completed a PGCert in science communication and public engagement at the University of Edinburgh so I may look into completing a master's degree in this.
Who knows, I have a long list of things I'd like to achieve, complete or try (including paddleboarding!!) it's just having the time to do it as any spare time I have I love spending it with my family.
Working on very interesting scientific research projects/experiments, whether it is on the experimental side or the theoretical aspect of physics problems. Also, working with other STEM professionals.
My journey to a STEM career was:
College after leaving school to study a one, year Engineering foundation course. Then a four, year indentured apprenticeship in Electrical and Instrumentation Engineering and earning City and Guilds, Ordinary National Certificate (ONC) and Higher National Certificate (HNC) qualifications.
Very good at physics, weak at mathematics, average in other subjects and excelled at rugby union.
Completed four year, Electrical and Instrumentation Engineering indentured apprenticeship, then joined the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and trained to become a physicist. Studied for a BSc in Physics and Electrical Engineering, MSc in Nuclear Physics/Engineering, MSc in Astrophysics, PhD in Plasma Physics (all sponsored by UKAEA).
My physics teacher at secondary school, my mathematics lecturer and engineering science lecturer at college and the NASA space programme, including the first Apollo spacecraft landing on the Moon (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins).
Identifying and solving physics/engineering problems on the macro and micro scale. Also, working with STEM professionals from many different countries.
Having spent twelve months of theoretical and practical work to build an experiment only to have everything postponed due to the covid-19 pandemic. The whole experimental run was put back many months.
Always ask questions, never be afraid or nervous to ask questions. Work at improving any weaknesses you may have (get assistance if required).
Be positive, stand out from the crowd and question everything. Always strive to improve.
Rugby Union, I have played, refereed and now I am a referee advisor, helping produce the next generation of referees. I like walking, reading (science factual), travelling, spending time with my family and friends (generally being sociable).
Continuing my research into Thermonuclear Fusion in collaboration with STEM colleagues around the World. Develop my research areas in astrophysics, in particular: Black Holes, Supermassive Black Holes, Gravitational Waves from merging Black Holes, Neutron stars, Hubble Constant and the Expanding Universe, Dark Energy and Dark Matter, Galaxy Formation and Evolution, Computational Galaxy Formation, Time Domain and Gravitational Wave Astrophysics, Star Formation and Stellar Populations, Astronomical Instrumentation.
Seeing others develop and reach their potential
Varied, but always with a focus on teaching others
I enjoyed school but didn't do very well in my A-levels, which I went on to repeat at college.
I entered the profession of Biomedical Science in 1992 as a trainee whilst undertaking a part-time BSc in Biomedical Science (Liverpool John Moore's University). I became a registered Biomedical Scientist in 1996 and in 2000 became a Specialist Biomedical Scientist. I completed an MSc in Clinical Biomedical Science in 2003 (University of the West of England) with a focus on Clinical Chemistry.
In 2008 I became a training manager responsible for training a large group of pathology staff from support workers through to consultant grade. In 2013 I completed my professional doctorate (Portsmouth University) and an NVQ in Leadership and Management. In 2015 I made the move into academia so that I could educate and train a wider group of Biomedical Scientists. Since being at Cardiff Metropolitan University I have undertaken a Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education, become a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Authority, a Senior Lecturer and most recently Programme Director for the BSc(hons) Healthcare Science.
I am also very active with my professional body, The Institute of Biomedical Science. I hold the Welsh seat on their Council, I undertake examinations for the registration of new Biomedical Scientist, sit on the Special advisory panel for clinical chemistry, and I am also one of the deputy chief examiners.
My love of science and teaching others has always influenced what I do.
Seeing those light bulb moments when my trainees and students 'get-it', and bumping into past trainees and students and chatting about their experiences and how far they have come.
In clinical practice this has to have been when a JCB digger 'crashed' through our computer system and we had to resort to paper copies to send results out. In academia it has to be my first lecture to a 100+ group of students and an IT failure which prevented me from using half of my planned lecture!
Don't let anyone tell you that you aren't capable of doing something, explore your own limitations and then conquer them.
Do what you love, then it doesn't feel like work (most of the time)
Reading and watching movies (mostly horror) plus a bit of gardening
Felt obvious. I like science & maths and did not like writing. However when I joined the industry, I realised how huge it was and there is a space for everyone. Even those that like writing and but don't like science and maths.
I did A-levels, university and started as a Graduate Engineer.
Since then, I have had 4 different job roles, all within the same company. And worked on a wide range of projects.
Collaborating and sharing ideas with team members.
My worst day at work would be a day in which I had to write reports all day.
Getting one percent better everyday counts for a lot in the long-run – By James Clear.
Those small daily habits, make a big difference in the future.
Don't spend too long making a decision; do your research, then get started. You'll never be perfectly ready, but the quicker you start, the quicker you can make necessary changes if the decision was incorrect.
I'm a powerlifter and a runner. I also like listening to podcasts and audio books.
I don't know. I don't have a big career life goal, I just would like to keep moving forward.
My journey into STEM Career was unusual given my route but I was always drawn to Information Technology and Engineering. Within Stantec, I have found myself using skills from school on tasks in work daily. I am so thankful that Stantec offered me a part-time degree opportunity. Given my apprenticeship experience, it gave me a new positive view on university.
I attended the local primary and secondary school. From a young age, I could tell I was more suited toward kinetic learning and found subjects like Information Technology and Physical Education attracted to me more. I joined the school Rugby team whilst continue to play football outside of school for my local club.
Though during secondary school, there was a huge push towards full time university which I never fully engaged with. I was more drawn toward the military given my families history but sadly due to medical reasons of enzyme on my hand, I could not join.
After being unsuccessful with the military and still not wanting to go university, I decided to attend a jobs fair following some advice at Careers Wales. I complete a test for an apprenticeship at MWH which I later successfully completed in 2018. Near the end of my apprenticeship in 2018, I was offered by Stantec a full funded part time degree which I accept.
My main two passions outside of work is Esports and Mountain biking, specifically Enduro/MTB racing. Once everything opens within Wales, I hope to compete in one of the Welsh Enduro Series events. I am very passionate about E-sport and the ethos of Esports Wales organisation
My next goal is to complete my part time degree and hopefully transition onto a masters whilst continue to broaden young students about STEM and apprenticeships in South Wales and Online. My 2nd goal is to hopefully achieve my IEng Industry recognition between my degree and Masters.
Space exploration, tackling the climate emergency and inspiring young people to take an interest and become involved with STEM subjects with a view to seriously considering a future career in Science and Engineering.
I attended Pontllanfraith Grammar School but was not very academic, much to the frustration of my teachers! I much preferred practical subjects and sports, although I very much enjoyed Mathematics and Physics. I managed to pass five O-Levels in Maths, Physics, English, Geography and History which, as it turned out, gave me a sound foundation for a career in Engineering.
I completed a five year apprenticeship in structural engineering at British Steel (Llanwern) and then worked as a project/design engineer for five years. I then successfully applied for the post of college lecturer in Mechanical engineering at Crosskeys College and after five years was appointed as a lecturer in Maths and Applied Science at the same College but within the Science Department.
I was then appointed as a Senior Lecturer/Head of School (Applied Sciences) at Brunel College in Bristol where I also taught Undergraduate Engineering students in Applied Maths at University of West England (UWE).
After five years in that post I moved back to Wales as deputy Campus Director at Crosskeys Campus of Coleg Gwent. I also taught PGCE students at University of Wales, Newport (UWN) in A-level Physics.
I was then promoted to Campus Director at Pontypool Campus of Coleg Gwent before being appointed as Director of Curriculum for the six campuses of Coleg Gwent.
Since taking early retirement I have been actively involved as a Maths/Science Link Governor at two local schools (Mount Pleasant and Glasllwch primary schools) as well as being a STEM ambassador working with and supporting several other schools on the area. With the introduction of the New Curriculum for Wales we are all actively involved in planning opportunities in which we can integrate STEM subjects into the new curriculum This is proving to be a very exciting exercise in which we are finding a plethora of opportunities of integrating STEM subjects across the whole curriculum.
I have always enjoyed the practical application of mathematics particularly in science and engineering and having used these topics on multiple occasions while working as an engineer.
More recently I have been inspired by the many documentaries delivered by Professor Brian Cox on the history of the Universe and the formation of our Solar System.
Working with and inspiring young people to seriously consider a career in STEM by using my experience as an engineer to demonstrate the many applications of science and mathematics in the real world in which we live. As I often point out, although many subjects are interesting and add a richness to our lives, we cannot imagine living without the products of science and engineering!
My father served as a RN Commando during WW2 and witnessed many atrocities that in his words "no human being should ever experience" and his philosophy on life was "take every opportunity life throws at you because if you don't you will probably come to regret it later in life when it is too late"
An avid student of WW2 history including the building of scale models of WW2 warships, aircraft and tanks, and have participated in (but now mainly supporting!) several sports including rugby union, athletics, Formula 1 racing, water skiing and snow skiing – the last one I can still manage!
I am really looking forward to working with local primary school teachers in developing the STEM agenda within the New Curriculum for Wales. This will include the securing funds for the practical resources we will need to provide the children fun and informative ways of investigating the main topics of Forces, Light, Sound, Space, Electricity and Magnetism.
The case studies below describe some of the activities in Wales that STEM Ambassadors have set up or participated in. They demonstrate the transformative impact that Ambassador involvement can create – for teachers, for pupils, for the school and for STEM Ambassadors themselves.
Click on the headings below to expand the content for each case study. Clicking on another heading automatically closes the one previously open.
Oldcastle Primary School is situated in the centre of the industrial town of Bridgend. 440 pupils attend from Nursery to Yr 6. The school is a 'pioneer' school working with the Welsh Government and other schools to forward developments relating to the curriculum and other professional learning.
Oldcastle's stated mission is to Inspire Motivate and Educate.
"In 2013 the school identified that science and associated STEM subjects had a lower profile and that pupil performance at the expected level and above was lower than expected. Leaders and staff decided that, if we wanted great technologists, scientists and mathematicians, then we needed to review provision and approaches, in order to ensure that it supported all learners in developing a love of these subjects."
Jeremy Malessa-Thompsom, Headteacher
STEM Ambassadors first became involved with the school when a parent (Jacqui Murray) became a STEM Ambassador. Jacqui sat down with Jeremy and identified the importance of the school taking opportunities through the STEM Ambassador Programme to support their science initiatives.
In 2015 Jeremy asked Jacqui if she could run a STEM Week in November. Together they worked on a week with an exciting spectrum of science engagement through STEM Ambassador sessions, visits to interesting local STEM employers, Science Centre visits, and associated science experiences which also included cross curricular creativity and arts. All based around each year's syllabus.
Sourcing of STEM Ambassador visits and visits to companies was achieved via requests to the STEM Ambassador Coordinator Sian Ashton. Ongoing contact with the hub developed and increased for STEM Weeks 2016 and 2017.
The outcomes of these initiatives led to the school being accredited by Estyn Inspection report for: "Delivering good practice – by working with businesses and universities to develop a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) week that has improved pupils' aspirations and attainment."
All year groups at the school are offered STEM engagement sessions in STEM Week.
Site visits include (have included): Aberthaw Power Station (KS2); Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health (Yr3), Cardiff Museum Geology Department (Yr 2); International Centre for Aerospace Training (ICAT), Rhoose Airport; Spectrum Technologies and Viridor Waste Management. These visits were organised by STEM Ambassadors employed at the companies.
STEM Ambassador visits in school included: Astronomy Mark Smith; Design and Build with Engineer Dr Alun Armstrong; Chemistry Sian Ashton; Electrical Engineering Jon Laver; DNA and the Brain (Cardiff University Neuroscience), Arup Civil Engineers workshops and Aerodynamics Luke Griffiths (Aston Martin)
Applications of STEM in the real world were not confined to conventional themes, but extended to baking, Virtual Reality, and Marine life. The school also takes part in the feeder Primary Day at Bryntirion Comprehensive School in February.
Pupils are guided in writing thank you letters to each STEM Ambassador, developing literacy skills as well as a useful way of recapping the learning that took place during the week.
"Children loved the variety of sessions that were offered and it was satisfying to see children enjoying learning in a stimulating environment."
Jeremy Malessa-Thompsom, Headteacher
Following the successful launch in 2015 under the leadership of Jacqui Murray, the school has now taken the major part in organising STEM week. This has been achieved through a robust handover of responsibility.
Contact with the STEM Ambassador coordinator is now mainly through the STEM teaching staff. In 2017, teachers also delivered one of the previous year's science talks – how the brain works – as the Cognitive Psychologist couldn't attend. Demonstrating how this approach makes STEM in primary schools more accessible for staff and children.
"Thank you so much for attending our STEM week yesterday. The pupils had a fantastic time. Thank you for the hard work you put into organising and delivering your sessions. I hope we can work together again next year on STEM 2018."
Teacher Katie Lincoln
"We have been fortunate to have many visitors to school this week and we are so grateful to everyone that has given up their time to develop our children's knowledge of STEM subjects.
"In particular we are grateful to Mrs Jacqui Murray (who has once again supported the school as STEM Ambassador), Jon Wood, Sarah Wallace, Ella Riley, Clare Davies, Jason Stratchan, Duncan Ludlow, Sian Ashton, Swansea University, Aston Martin, Arup, Asda, John Laver, Greer Hooper, JW & E Morris, Alun Armstrong, Andy Schofield, Vesarian, Mark Smith, and parents that have helped out with trips this week."
"We are also grateful to Mrs Coleman (year 6 teacher and STEM lead) who has worked tirelessly to ensure STEM week has been a great success and everything has run smoothly."
Jeremy Malessa-Thompsom Headteacher
The school has expanded their STEM programme with the creation of a Code Club, which is run for KS2 pupils on a regular basis.
The school is now officially recognised in the Inspection report for best practice in STEM engagement with local employers and STEM professionals.
Estyn Inspection report:
"The school's annual STEM week utilises an extensive range of businesses and professionals, including university science departments, information technology companies and the local sweet shop proprietor, to support curriculum activities and visits. These experiences greatly enhance pupils' understanding of the world of work and aspirations for the future, for example in relation to science, technology and engineering careers."
STEM Ambassador Jacqui Murray is a Materials Engineer and currently Interim Director of the Faraday Battery Challenge and Head of Advanced Materials at Innovate UK. She states that the role of STEM Ambassador has impacted positively on her professional life. Her personal innovation with STEM week has resulted in 36 STEM Ambassador interactions at the school over 3 years.
STEM Ambassador Alun Armstrong, nominated as Most Dedicated STEM Ambassador Wales, kindly compiled a report and programme of his sessions. (Available on request). Alun aimed "To deliver an action-packed session demonstrating that STEM subjects are both interesting and exciting".
His programme covered:
Pupils were clearly inspired, writing:
"Many of our guests have already written to us to say what a delight it has been to visit Oldcastle and comment on what amazing pupils and staff we have at Oldcastle."
Jeremy Malessa-Thompsom Headteacher
STEM Ambassadors have also delivered after school sessions for parents such as Astronomy and Nuclear Energy (STEM Ambassador Mark Smith).
The success of STEM Week will continue under the guidance of Katie Lincoln (Yr 6 and STEM Lead at the school). There is no doubt that the number and range of activities in STEM week increases year on year
"Science, technology engineering and mathematics have become a core part of the learning at Oldcastle School. Through its science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) week, the school works with teachers, university partners, and local and national businesses to help them to bring these related topics alive."
Ipsen is a global biopharmaceutical group focused on innovation and Specialty Care. Ipsen also has a well-established and successful Consumer Healthcare business. Ipsen sells more than 20 drugs in over 115 countries, with a direct commercial presence in over 30 countries worldwide. The Group has more than 5,100 employees all over the world. Wrexham is the Ipsen group's Biologics Development & Manufacturing campus, and is the mainstay of the company's neurology franchise.
Almost 400 people are employed at the Wrexham R&D and manufacturing facility. Their STEM activity has had a significant impact on local schools. Based on the border of the industrial NE Wales and Rural Powys they are now key to STEM activity in the region and fill a major gap for activities in Biology and Chemistry. 20 Employees are Ambassadors, with continual recruitment initiatives to increase numbers. Rapid expansion of STEM activity has now delivered 70 activities by the team ~ 100 volunteering hours. Connecting to Secondary Schools became a priority, to promote careers at Ipsen from technician to graduate level.
"Wouldn't it be refreshing if every job candidate was knocking down the door to work for Ipsen? A team of STEM Ambassadors at Ipsen Wrexham site is doing something about it! This team has set about branding Ipsen on a personal level whilst helping to tackle the STEM skills gap"
STEM Ambassador Kevin Owen Aseptic Scientist
Since the inception of their STEM activities the connection with secondary school pupils in particular has made a significant impact. Based on an industrial site like many STEM employers it does not operate in a visible location. Access to the labs must be secure, therefore the opportunity to engage with this workforce either in school or at the site is highly prized.
Secondary School students who have experienced Ipsen STEM Ambassadors, are now much better informed of the wide STEM skills base at IPSEN. The site is planning expansion and has a vital need to profile the range of careers on offer with the right STEM qualification. They also wish to develop staff skills through engagement activities.
Site experience events are arranged for KS4 and 5 students. A well organised schedule, mini bus transport supported by Ipsen. After a site tour of the labs the group are taken through Microbiology, Cell Biology, Mass Spec, HPLC. A buffet lunch is followed by lab practical's and a QC tour.
This is a unique opportunity for students to see Chemistry and Biology in real workplace applications. This is often stated by pupils to be the most enthusing aspect of these subjects.
STEM Ambassadors first developed 'Applications of Biology in the Real World' for Welshpool High School in response to a teacher request. A practical challenge using equipment and PPE was developed to simulate 'Clean Room Technology'.
Prior to delivery the leading STEM Ambassadors held thorough discussions with Head of Biology Dave Bass on curriculum and logistical aspects of the workshop.
Success travelled through teacher networks resulting in visits to schools across Mid Powys and Wrexham. Ambassador Kevin Owen then developed a microbiology workshop for Primary Schools. They are now also investigating Nuffield Science Bursary placements for A level students. Ipsen then produced flyers for Secondary Schools offering a spectrum of engagement opportunity, and a flyer for Careers events and school support offers.
"Massive thanks to Kevin and team for the STEM activity. Year 10s found it very enjoyable, several commented that it has made them think differently about science careers. The enthusiasm displayed by Ipsen (Ambassadors) was infectious. The activity so well planned and resourced – I couldn't believe it was their first trip to a classroom."
Dave Bass Head of Biology Welshpool
Filling a gap with quality engagement for biology and chemistry teachers and pupils. Many pupils made aware of opportunities that biology and chemistry provide outside medical or allied medical careers. Recruitment to manufacturing is challenging.
In the past 2 years IPSEN have engaged with over 500 secondary pupils and increasing reach connecting with primary schools. This has been achieved through the novel workshop 'Good Bugs – Bad Bugs' introducing primary pupils to microbiology.
Further schools have been keen to be part of the Ipsen experience.
"We have been asked by the Maelor secondary school to host a year 12 IPSEN site visit and a school visit to their year 10 pupils. This is a first event for us with the Maelor school It seems Dave Bass of Welshpool gave such a glowing recommendation to them in a meeting that they now want us for similar events! Great news for the pupils and for us to spread the word about the roles of professional scientists in the Pharma world"
STEM Ambassador Kevin Owen, Aseptic Scientist
Ipsen are consistent supporters of Careers events, both in Wales and further into Cheshire. They are clearly a well-prepared team as they are consistently recommended for these by organisations.
Attending careers events has really given the STEM Ambassadors the opportunity to share job opportunities with students and allows them to realise that nothing is impossible and they can do it if they set their minds to it.
"Ipsen Biopharm have supported a number of careers events in schools in Wrexham from mock interviews to employability/careers fairs and have provided interesting and informative sessions, establishing a rapport with a range of groups of young people, of different ages and abilities. Their staff have always shown a flexible, responsive attitude to delivering our learning outcomes. Careers Wales appreciate the time, effort and commitment Ipsen has shown to young people in our schools."
Lesley Lloyd Business Engagement Adviser Careers Wales
A key factor in achieving success has been the ongoing support and passion of the lead contacts Angela White Qualified Person and Kevin Owen Aseptic Process Scientist. To have such leadership in a STEM Ambassador team has proved entirely effective. They are also keen to maximise opportunities for all team members.
Having taken their first group of 8 staff through induction and initial activity they have now expanded, increased outreach activity and have been inspired to extend their reach. IPSEN are excellent at offering feedback, continuous improvement of activities and working to understand the needs and interests of each local school and year group. They have worked to fulfil a 'toolkit' approach to their inspiring outreach.
Articles have been posted in the IPSEN LinkedIn and intranet websites to showcase and highlight the Ambassador team and encourage a company-wide approach. http://www.ipsen.ltd.uk
"Benefits to Ipsen in branding and talent are obvious. What wasn't envisaged was how rewarding the STEM Ambassador role would be."
STEM Ambassador Angela White
"When you see the passion and enthusiasm in a student's face you know that you've made a difference – incredibly motivating and fulfilling."
STEM Ambassador Kevin Owen
IPSEN committed many hours to researching and producing a STEM workshop "Applications of biology in the real world" which addressed KS4 biology pupils. They had many discussions with teacher Dave Bass at Welshpool to ensure the activity has the 'right fit' for his class. Without being trained on methodology of pedagogy they quickly assimilated the concepts and having trialled the activity went on to improve and review impact then tailored based on feedback taking the activity to a very different profile of pupil at a small school Ysgol Uwchradd Caereinion.
The additional challenge was delivering at a bilingual Welsh medium school in English, liaising with the teacher to ensure that the word and language level was familiar with pupils and the facilities at the school could accommodate their laboratory equipment.
This enabled both parties to manage expectations and has been repeated for each new STEM activity developed
The success and rapid rise in STEM engagement was recognised at the annual STEM Inspiration Awards 2017 when Ipsen reached the final 3 nominated in the category 'STEM Employer – large company'.
Adding to their portfolio of STEM activities, the team has put forwarded proposals investing in technology resources for an 'Automation' workshop. This will be tailored for careers events and open days at site. Using Lego Mindstorms and incorporating Raspberry Pi.
Students are given a user requirement with a functionality specification. They then build the project. Starting from a simple traffic light build, it will advance to a 'sorter' build to simulate Engineering Automation in a Pharmaceutical environment. The tasks set will include elements of qualification and documentation.
The presentation was forwarded to the STEM Ambassador coordinator and impact summarised:
"Our STEM Ambassadors are committed to providing students with real life career examples."
STEM Ambassador Angela White QP
IPSEN has successfully negotiated the work / volunteer landscapes that serve to strengthen our bond with the local community, this is in part due to the wholehearted commitment of IPSEN's senior management team – all the way to the Chairman of the organisation. This is complemented by the amazing fortitude and passion displayed by all our mature and budding STEM ambassadors on site.
Our vision is to give back to our next generation of Scientists and engineers the spark that we felt as we embarked on our own careers. We need to inspire these students to achieve and surpass their potential and build on something truly Inspirational.
STEM feels like performing baby steps at times for us as a company – at times both exhilarating and terrifying in equal measure as you stand under the watchful gaze of a 14 year old…! But we can only imagine and wonder at the difference we make to those pupils and how vitally important it is to them in their formative years.
Indeed, we are fortunate and humbled in investing in the most wonderful talent in the World – our next generation. They will achieve things that we can only dream of. Proud to be part of the journey.
STEM Ambassadors Angela White and Kevin Owen
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is a government organisation, an executive agency of the Department of Transport. From its Headquarters in Swansea it is responsible for maintaining a database of 45 million driver and 39 million vehicle records. www.gov.uk/government/organisations/driver-and-vehicle-licensing-agency
In 2014 the Technology Department made contact with the STEM Ambassador Hub Wales in order to recruit and deploy a team of STEM Ambassadors to support Coding and IT education in local Primary Schools. Led by Mark Jones, Head of Cyber Security Testing at DVLA and Karen Pitt Business IT Coordination Manager, the aim was to recruit from a wide range of IT specialists and administrative staff, in order to effectively deliver and maintain Code Club support.
The team aims to drive recruitment of IT specialists and raise the awareness of a wide STEM skills base at the DVLA workforce and departments. Young people and public perception of work at the DVLA is not well understood due to high security on site and little previous awareness of the scope of their work.
Starting from a team of 8 STEM Ambassadors, the team is now 30 STEM Ambassadors strong and growing, all actively deployed in school or community support.
Working in partnership with Code Club regional officers the STEM Ambassador Coordinator has supported DVLA STEM Ambassadors in extending the ambitions of the programme, not only to run Code Clubs in local Primary Schools but also to attend the British Science Festival, Swansea Science Festival, Super Science Saturdays and related events. The team is self motivated making contacts and supporting initiatives with community groups such as library code club meetings.
In May 2015 they hosted a major celebration of their work with local schools. VIP guests attended from the Local Authority and the DVLA senior management. Schools showcased the work of pupils, teachers and STEM Ambassadors with teams displaying their programming skills.
The culmination of a highly successful strategy of STEM engagement, was realised in 2017 with the DVLA Code Challenge http://dvlacodechallenge.dvla.gov.uk
Initiated, produced and directed by STEM Ambassadors Mark Jones and Karen Pitt in March 2017, this Wales Wide Competition was open to all Primary Schools and Community Groups. The team of 27 DVLA STEM Ambassadors were all involved in the event, a professionally managed and high energy day hosted by BBC Wales presenter Lucy Owen.
Judges included Oliver Morley CEO DVLA, Swansea City Council Economy and Strategy Leader Rob Stewart, Professor Faron Moller of Technocamps and Sian Ashton STEM Ambassador Coordinator Wales.
Pupil teams selected one of 4 themes to produce and code an animation game for young people. Themes were curriculum linked (environment) or addressed current social topics (anti-bullying).
The competition offered prizes for IT equipment.
17 Schools won Lego Mindstorm EV3 Kits, Raspberry Pis and BBC Micro: bits
Twitter feed: #DVLACodeChallenge
Pupils at KS2 level have benefitted most from the technology support with Code Club. In addition to this the DVLA team extended their reach developing bespoke STEM stands for the British Science Festival Swansea 2016. The popularity of their interactive stand resulted in attendance at Superscience Saturdays, and the Swansea Science Festival attended by 9000 visitors.
Indeed the stand had to be moved to a larger area in order to accommodate the young participants. Attending these events offers families the chance to engage with the DVLA informally and for STEM Ambassadors the chance to take part in weekend events.
The introduction of Coding and IT skills is a hard task for primary teachers. Most do not have confidence in the teaching of Coding and often the technology available varies from school to school.
Support visits in setting up the Code Club, advising on appropriate IT equipment, training the teachers to maintain the Code club have been essential.
Teachers can progress their teaching of IT and coding at a faster rate.
Mrs. Eldridge very emotional after receiving gifts for the school on behalf of Ysgol Melin Grufydd
Schools and organisations have been supportive not only in statements but in the case of organisations have donated monies, equipment and resources for schools. Sponsors of the Code Challenge include BT, Mobilise, Mulbauer, Water to Go and DMSG."
The local Police constabulary, Fire Service, Armed Forces and Incredible Oceans http://www.incredibleoceans.org attended the Challenge finals with displays and interactive equipment. This has widened the partnership with IT companies and local employers.
"Once again it was a fantastic event @DVLAgovuk and we were proud to be part of it! Well done to all the prize winners and hope you continue on your coding journey which will influence Welsh IT for years to come!"
Victoria Wood, Digital DMSG
"The future is Digital and Wales needs to work hard to build a technology knowledge based economy. Organisations such as Code Club and STEM Ambassadors help encourage children at a young age embrace coding in a fun way that will hopefully encourage them to pursue education and later work in the technology sphere."
James Carnie, Mobilise
"Road Safety Wales has been delighted to partner with the DVLA for the Wales National Coding Challenge for 7 to 11 year olds, in association with Code Club and the STEM Ambassador Hub Wales. The challenge enabled pupils to develop their problem solving, communication and teamwork skills as well as improving their knowledge of computer programming in a fun and innovative way, with the opportunity to win amazing prizes and funding for IT equipment for their schools."
Road Safety Wales
The provision of technical expertise and equipment for schools with low levels of funding for IT has greatly enhanced the pupils and teachers learning experience.
Already the equipment won at the Challenge finals has been put to imaginative use across many year groups at schools. Lego Mindstorms have been most popular, creating and debugging codes:
"Lego coding is going well. Independent codes have been created and debugging is happening."
Usk Primary https://twitter.com/UskPrimary
"Super proud of our coders and STEM ambassadors. We were runners up in the DVLA Code Challenge.winning £750 for the school and ICT prizes."
Gwyrosydd School Year 5 teacher
DVLA work in high security locations, with few opportunities to profile their work in an informal or educational environment. Steered by Mark Jones and Karen Pitt the team has grown to 30 STEM Ambassadors with a thriving programme of high quality engagement.
They have offered the team a wide range of opportunities from on-going Code Club support, to public events and also supported requests such as Mock Interviews, Careers Talks for More Able and Talented college students and Virtual Reality public displays. They have also attended local library events.
20% of the STEM Ambassador team are Advance Apprenticeship level, 50% degree level, 10% Doctorate and 20% Apprenticeship level.
This offers a wide career path profile for pupils to meet. DVLA STEM Ambassadors were recognised in Wales Awards, winning Employer STEM Club support, Most Dedicated STEM Ambassador South Wales, & nominees for the National STEM Inspiration Awards.
The success and impact of their STEM Ambassador initiative is now to extend to Secondary School level, most likely as a transition project for KS3. KS2 will remain a focus as this is the initial age group for embedding Computer Science education. They have also been authorised to run the DVLA Code challenge in 2018 and to include a Secondary School element in the competition.
The progress since 2014 has been exponential, evidenced by a very active twitter profile for the DVLA Code challenge final #DVLACodeChallenge
"It's important that as employers we actively support the development of IT skills in schools and communities, from grassroots early education upwards. DVLA really is an Agency that is actively engaged in encouraging technologists of all ages. We provide opportunities for those with digital skills and talent to deliver our services now and in the future."
DVLA Head of Cyber Security Testing and STEM Ambassador Mark Jones
STEM Ambassador Carl Mason is a Senior TV Camera Operator at the BBC. Carl is also a Senior Pilot CPO Royal Navy (fixed wing). His main STEM activity is as Course Mentor for Sea Cadet Corps community groups, taking pupils on sessions that includes navigation and metrology in addition to flight training. The report covers the Silver and Gold Wings training.
Carl (3rd from right in photo), is based in Swansea and registered with STEM Ambassador Hub Wales. The Aviation training for Sea Cadets takes place in Lee on Solent Portsmouth.
As Senior Pilot CPO (SCC) Carl Mason flies 16 hours during the week of training. Sea Cadets cover aviation and navigation as part of the course. These topics include a range of STEM related topics such as maths and metrology. Advanced Routes are navigated in good weather.
The week involves a great deal of revision particularly on the core subjects for the week: principles of flight, meteorology, engineering, radio telephony and navigation. Carl takes an active role in these tuition sessions as well as practical flight experience.
Sea Cadets aims to give young people a different experience to school. Learning takes place through experiential programmes, many outdoors but there are strong curricular links with STEM subjects such as maths and engineering.
There is an emphasis on core skills such as teamwork, personal development and interpersonal communication with other cadets. This allows young people to make friends outside a classroom or social media environment,
Lieutenant (SCC) Pether awards those Sea Cadets who gain the Gold Wings their 'Wings' at a parade, which includes an award for the highest performance.
Several pupils attending the course have applied to join the Apprenticeships for H M Forces or applied for courses at University in order to pursue careers in this field.
There is a good attention to diversity, several Cadets are female and achieve Cadet 'Wings'.
Sea Cadets take a written exam on the last day, bringing together all they learn during the week. Verbal assessments are also required. These theory and verbal assessments are confidence building, also giving practical interview experience for the Cadets.
Using a Grob 109 motor glider, cadets are familiarised with the aircraft and gain confidence using the aircraft's radio to talk to the air ground service at Lee on Solent and the air traffic controllers at Southampton while navigating.
An added bonus in 2016 was the viewing of 3 Spitfire jets that were being used in the film 'Dunkirk'. This visit illustrated the advances in technology and the importance of Engineering as applied in the Armed Forces skills base.
"2016–17 has been the best year so far for the Sea Cadet Aviation programme. A highlight was having a member of the team join the Royal Navy as an aircrew officer and this shows the superb opportunities we offer and allows our cadets to broaden their horizons and open up doors for exciting careers."
Lieutenant (SCC) Mark Pether
Carl is a continual supporter of the Sea Cadets training, using his STEM expertise to deliver sessions which include mathematics in aviation in addition to his pilot qualifications.
He has presented talks at Teacher CPD and networking meetings illustrating how practical STEM activities can enhance and inspire pupils with a positive attitude to a subject often perceived as 'hard' or 'boring'.
Carl volunteers his time as a STEM Ambassador to "help teenagers develop the skills and approach to life that will launch them into independence" (sea-cadets.org)