September 2013

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Dear Ambassadors

September 2013

A nice month for me as I have received some great articles from Ambassadors – if you would like to contribute at any time do forward me your news!

Cardiff Science Festival

The Cardiff Science Festival, which ran from 14 to 21 July, was a huge success – this year visitor numbers increased and the venues and schedule were marvellous. The Pier head Building in Cardiff Bay was the venue for the main exhibition, very well located and a great quality building for the event.

Thanks to all the 14 STEM Ambassador volunteers who assisted with science busking, visitor coordination, presenter support and many other essential roles.

Gaspari BenenetiOf these, Dr Gaspare Beneneti, STEM Ambassador and senior scientist at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics in Bridgend, wrote this account of his experience at the event:

Thermal image“Have you ever seen an infrared Camera that ‘pictures’ temperatures?’ I had my picture taken and I learnt how astronomers look through cosmic dust, to understand how stars are born. I pushed a button to create magnetic repulsions that make a metal ring jump up high – and I learnt how bullet trains use the same mechanisms to reach 581km/h (361 mph)!

“One of the talks at the Pierhead Building suggested that due to the increase of world population, a good source of proteins could be eating insects. I thought that in Wales (3 million people and 30 million sheep), we are pretty safe. That thought allowed me to see the exhibition ‘bugs on the bus’, in front of the Techniquest, without too much distress. The day was nice, and kids loved it.

“The only problem was that, being a scientist, I am curious by definition and I want to play the games myself. Unfortunately there were already too many kids in line to create giant soap bubbles (and learn about surface tensions, of course). So I have no other choice than let that the giant soap bubbles wait until the next Science festival, in 2014. You are all invited already, bring your offspring along and have fun!”

New Powys company on board

PCI logoWe are delighted that Powys business PCI (formerly AndersonBrecon) has recently joined the STEM Ambassador programme.

PCI is currently the largest private sector employer in Mid Wales, with more than 300 staff based at its main site at Hay on Wye. Learning and Development Manager Tim Colman explained to us that the business’ rural location can make it a challenge to recruit and retain skilled staff.

PCI employs a number of young apprentices and is looking to work closely with local schools both in Wales and England – being a border town means that many of its 300 staff travel from the neighbouring counties.

Recently, PCI hosted a visit from Gwernyfed High School. The students toured the Hay site and met Ambassadors, who answered questions about their roles and the paths that led them to a career in pharmaceutical packaging. This was a great opportunity for the school, as its rural location means that it is not easy for them to find local businesses to support student projects and STEM activities throughout the year.

It is hoped that the partnership forged between Gwernyfed and PCI will continue to grow, and that the STEM Ambassadors will soon be engaging with other schools to provide curriculum enrichment activities and support.

Heidi Purnell

STEMNET group on Linkedin

Rhys Phillips features on BBC World news!

Listen to the interview here.

A new STEMNET Linkedin group launched at the STEMNET conference in July. If you are a Linkedin user or new to the professional network site, do join; it is a wide family of Ambassadors, contract holders, employers and teachers.

An engineering success story

STEM Ambassadors impact endorsement

The art of science teaching: Guardian roundtable. A panel of experts discusses why less government interference and a more defined career path for teachers will help to improve Stem education in UK schools

A couple of years ago when I was mentoring pupils at Holyhead High School for their Welsh Baccalaureate Open Learning Package, I was asked if I could have a word with a rather quiet pupil who the careers mistress (Emma Roberts) thought had potential but she couldn’t seem to get through to him.

WelshHighland RailwayI interviewed him and he opened up slightly and professed an interest in engineering so I asked if he’d like to see some real engineering in action – my hobby is restoring steam locomotives on our nearby Welsh Highland Railway at Caernarfon and the group of us working on a large loco would be there that following weekend. He said he’d see if his Dad could bring him down.

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They duly appeared and young Sam REALLY opened up and asked if he could join in. He’s been a regular at our monthly working weekends ever since and has learned a great deal – being shown how to use tools properly by me and my colleagues and also us explaining some of the theory of how things work. He’s a stalwart of our team now. He did his work experience here at the power station earlier this year (I wonder who helped him get that..!)

Now, today, he has emailed me to tell me his A Level results – brilliant, A’s and B’s. And to cap it all, he’s just been taken on as an apprentice at Holyhead Boatyard where he’ll be given the chance to progress up through HND or higher if he keeps this sort of standard up.

Clive Briscoe, Magnox Sites STEM Ambassador

Back to topAmbassador induction meetings

The next series of inductions will take place on the following dates – to book a place contact Newly-registered Ambassadors must attend an induction meeting and bring their ID documents with them. Approved Ambassadors are also welcome to attend.

Other dates can be arranged if none of the above are suitable – contact

Back to topCurrent schools requests for Ambassador support

Can you help?

If you are able to contribute to any of the following requests, or would like more details about them before deciding, please contact

To find out more about each request, follow the ‘more information’ link. This will take you to the relevant section on the current STEM Ambassador requests web page.

  1. Bridgend County. Solid Works Bridges Project. The teacher has acquired a 3D modelling software package on Structures and Building Bridges. He would welcome the expertise of a STEM Ambassador to initiate the set up. This could involve more than one visit to the school. More information…
  2. Bridgend County. Apprentices – Myth and Reality. The teacher would like to host a visit from an apprentice or someone who mentors and works with apprentices to showcase the valuable skills and career paths that this professions offer. More information…
  3. North and Mid Wales Engineering Challenge Events. All STEM Ambassadors are warmly invited to support the pupils and the events as team building and STEM expertise will be key to the success of the day. More information…
  4. Swansea Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthen Mock Interviews. Ambassador's skills are required as Interviewers at a series of Mock Interviews across West Wales. The remit is easy and enjoyable, questionnaires are supplied to the interviewers, supplemented by your own input. More information…
  5. Bridgend County. The Ethical Side of IT. The teacher wishes to alert the pupils to the ethical considerations of the use of IT and social media. More information…
  6. Bridgend County. Electrical Circuits /The National Grid/ Motion and Parachutes/ Aircraft. The teacher is seeking Ambassadors who can talk and present an interactive and interesting session on any of the above topics. The aim is to demonstrate the applications of Physics in the real world. More information…
  7. Bridgend County. A Career in Physics. A small Year 12 group studying Physics this year need to widen their knowledge of careers relating to physics in the real world. More information…
  8. Carmarthen; Swansea and University of South Wales. Engineering Team Challenge programme. Attendance by STEM Ambassadors for various options and on various dates would be greatly appreciated. More information…
  9. Merthyr Tydfil. Science In 'Communications'; Forensics Science' and 'Industry'. The school is holding a programme of events where STEM Ambassadors will deliver interesting insights to Year 9 pupils on the role of STEM in unexpected themes. More information…
  10. Cardiff. Chemistry Careers Fair. STEM Ambassador Dr Mark Tatchell would welcome support from fellow chemists at this event. He would be most keen to host industrial employers who use chemistry in their business. More information…
  11. Swansea. Careers in Chemistry. The teacher would like to host further ambassador who can demonstrate to 16 – 18 year old pupils, career opportunities and courses that A level Chemistry can lead to. More information…
  12. Haverfordwest. A Chemist's Life. The Chemistry teacher would like support from a STEM Ambassador with an interest/specialism in chemistry to speak to Year 7 students during Chemistry Week November 18–22. More information…
  13. Cardiff. STEM Carousel. Cantonian High School will be holding a STEM day for Year 6 pupils on 26 October. To engage the young pupils the teacher wants to hold a Carousel of interesting STEM Activities presented by STEM Ambassadors. More information…
  14. Cardiff. Structural or Mechanical Engineer to visit STEM Club. The teacher has just set up an Engineering STEM Club for Years 7-9 on Wednesday after school 3–4pm. More information…
  15. Cardiff. Biology – A Great Subject for Me! Can you make Biology exciting and relevant to Year 9 pupils? If your career as a Biologist has inspired you, the teacher would welcome your enthusiasm and host a visit. More information…
  16. Maesteg. STEM Club support. Could you spare a short time one Friday afternoon to visit and support the Llangynwyd STEM Club? More information…
  17. All STEM Ambassadors opportunity: Pythagoras' Trousers – radio show interviews. Any STEM Ambassadors who are interested in participating …. More information…
  18. Torfaen. Applications of BTEC in various STEM professions. If you qualified with BTEC or are an employer who requires BTEC applicants, a Fairwater teacher would be very pleased to hear from you! More information…

Back to topOther Ambassador opportunities

Making the Future

Are you a pre-chartered engineer interested in inspiring the next generation of engineers and gaining experience towards Section D, UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence?

Science made simple, Cardiff University School of Engineering and Mark Taylor of Mott MacDonald have been awarded an Ingenious public engagement grant from The Royal Academy of Engineering to deliver ‘Making the Future’. This is a pilot project that will give school students the opportunity, through interactive workshop sessions, to see how engineers tackle the issues that shape their work.

Volunteers will be trained and the maximum time requirement is anticipated to be 5 days between September 2013 and July 2014. If you are interested in being part of this exciting project please contact Gareth Smith

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