STEM professionals go back to school to motivate vocations

The students of IES Blas Infante, in Cordoba (Spain), in the 4th year of Compulsory Secondary Education have been lucky enough to enjoy an online talk by three professionals in the STEM field in our city to motivate professional vocations

All the students who have attended are studying a Science and Technology pathway and these types of activities aim to motivate vocations both within and outside the STEM field. When we develop a STEM project at school, we try to bring different approaches in order to develop different skills, not just those associated with science and technology.For example, by carrying out STEM projects we try to encourage languages skills or abilities related to the world of art or graphic design. Our point of view is that the development of STEM projects should help to motivate any type of vocation.The STEM field is characterised by its transversality, and this helps us to develop skills applicable to any other field.

In order to continue working on this idea, a talk has been organised in which we have been privileged to have a professor and researcher in Physics from the University of Cordoba, a Doctor in Chemistry who works for the municipal water management company and a computer programmer who designs cars for videogames.

The picture is the author’s own – (Attribution CC-BY)

During the activity, each participant made a personal presentation, including their initial training and their personal and professional background in relation to our topic and the approach we want to work on. They have commented in more detail on what their work consists of, and how they spend their day-to-day lives and the opportunities they have had over the last few years. They also offered advice to our students and gave their personal and professional vision of the possibilities and opportunities they may encounter in the forthcoming years.

The following aspects of each of the talks can be highlighted:

-The Physics teacher encouraged students to learn more about science literacy and to study what they are interested in.

-The PhD in Chemistry encouraged them to study abroad to develop professional and personal skills.

-The computer engineer highlighted the many possibilities offered by a science degree.

In order to organise this event, the document entitled “Professionals go back to School Scheme. A guide for schools” has been very useful

It has been very important when preparing the event and defining a common script for the three STEM professionals. This has helped to ensure that the talks had a similar storyline, but with each person addressing their own topic and responding to the students’ curiosity. It has also helped me to know how to advertise the event to the students in order to create an expectation to hear the ideas of these professionals. Likewise, the welcoming tips were very useful as they helped me to know how to make an initial presentation of the event, introduce the speakers and create a suitable introduction for the students’ attention. Of course, the “stay flexible” tip helped me to keep in mind that I have to adjust to availability, which was a bit more complex with three people.

Finally, the “After the visit” part was very appropriate for this event. The students completed a survey to evaluate the activity and I have designed a session to talk about STEM professions among ourselves after learning about these experiences. Likewise, the idea of spreading the word on social networks using the hashtag #PGB2S has been very useful, among other things, to promote the participation of the professional who works in video games design. In addition, it is important to thank these professionals for their availability with an email.They have been very grateful for having them and are delighted to repeat the experience next year, if possible in person.

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