Four Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Ambassadors visited Kirkwall Grammar on 18 February, to contribute insights into the world of work to the parents evening about third year subject choices.
John Mowat, Alec Livingstone, Mike Robertson and Syed Shah, the STEM Ambassadors who attended the parents evening, all have different backgrounds in the four STEM subjects and offered advice to students about their career path and experiences in the local workplace.
Commenting on the strong science and engineering industry in Orkney, John Mowat said: “Events such as these and the presence of STEM highlights to young people that there are opportunities available to them in Orkney where they can study, work and be successful without having to leave to the island.”
The still growing STEM Ambassador Programme on Orkney now has 26 volunteers who inspire young people through real life experience to pursue careers in the wide variety of STEM subjects.
Mike Robertson, local business man and founder of 4QL Limited, a software and internet services business, said: “I joined the STEM Ambassador programme to give young people first hand knowledge about industry and to demonstrate that a career in STEM can lead to endless opportunities. I have enjoyed talking to students and got them to think about how they make a career out of looking at how things work.”
The STEM North of Scotland team based within Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has already recruited more than 290 STEM Ambassadors in the six local authorities Orkney, Shetland, Argyll & Bute, Moray, Highland, and Western Isles since August 2008. The UK wide STEM Ambassador programme is coordinated by STEMNET and recognised as a way to engage young people with the STEM subjects.
The Orkney STEM Ambassadors have already helped with K'NEX engineering workshops in primary schools and will continue to do so until May. Students at Kirkwall Grammar, Stronsay Junior High School and Papdale Primary School will use cutting edge technology in an internet radio workshop that looks at broadcasting software and interesting programme design, run by the STEM Ambassador David Griffith.
Janice Wallace, STEM Ambassador Co-ordinator at HIE, points out: “STEM Ambassadors are volunteers who inspire young people inside and outside the classroom, with their real life examples related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Anyone with a passion for what they do can join, no matter if they work as a plumber, web designer, beer brewer, marine scientist, electrician or accountant.”
The STEM North of Scotland is a partnership (www.stemnorthofscotland.com) is a grouping of six local authorities, UHI Millennium Institute, the Open University, Skills Development Scotland and HIE which works to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The group's aim is to ensure young people know more about the importance of STEM subjects in the world around them. In particular in energy, ICT, life sciences, finance and business, and food and drink – all very important employment sectors in the North of Scotland.