Science and technology is now ‘cool’ at school, as hundreds visit BT Adastral Park, Martlesham
PUBLISHED: 16:47 14 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:47 14 March 2017
A Suffolk science teacher believes the growing positive attitude among students towards science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects will lead to more home-grown engineers in the future.
In support of British Science Week, more than 1,500 primary and secondary school students from Suffolk are visiting BT Adastral Park in Martlesham this week for a practical and interactive event promoting Stem subjects.
“The event has been fantastic and the kids have got really stuck in,” said Ambra Calver, a teacher of science and Stem coordinator at Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham.
“It’s really abstract at school, thinking ‘I want to be an engineer or a scientist’. But days like these really bring it all together for them, and science is definitely becoming more part of the media and topical now. It is becoming cool to be a scientist.
“The technology that surrounds us is making it more approachable. Students can get involved with Facebook and other media platforms and see how they work. At school, they understand how facial recognition works. A lot more work we do in school now can be seen in the outdoor environment.
“No-one really heard of Stem subjects until two years ago. Now it is definitely becoming more part of the curriculum. In the new GCSEs, they have a STEM section which they want us to explore. Hopefully this will become part of the norm.”
Just over 60 Suffolk schools will visit the event this week.
A stimulating environment greets students at the Stem in Industry event at BT Adastral Park in Martlesham.
There are morning and afternoon sessions for the 60-plus schools – one fifth of Suffolk schools – this week. Some students are about to decide on their GCSE future.
After an introductory lecture, small groups are led between the different themed-zones. There is the ‘Heritage and Today’ area, featuring codebreaking exercises, a fibre-optic demonstration, the history of telephones, and a ‘The Price is Right’ game testing pupils’ mathematical skills (the internet costs an individual user £58,000).
There were interactive x-rays in the Pulse area, 3D printers from the University of Suffolk and a Samsung representative in the Tomorrow in Action area, apps which lock and unlock front doors in ‘Home 2.0’ (you can also see a timeline of family members who have come home), and other hands-on, interactive Stem-based activities.
“It’s about inspiring the next generation,” said Pam Popay, community engagement program manager at BT Adastral Park.
“We are preparing kids for jobs that we don’t know yet exist. We showed them a video made in the 1960s of what the view of the 1990s was going to be. Some of it is kind of true: there is video telephony – Skype and Facetime – but there is no mention of computers, the internet, mobile phones or printers. So we don’t know what the jobs are going to be or the technology.
“But STEM subjects give you all of the skills you need to do for what those jobs are going to be. All that practical thinking is a huge help.”