Being a STEM Ambassador is a great way to make sure Calico gives something back to the local community. In my role as a technical ambassador, I volunteer to get involved in various local activities. The aim is to develop an interest in children in the STEM subjects, so that it helps them make the right subject choices in school or take part in extra curricular activities that will stand them in good stead to develop a career. I’m also keen to help close the gap in the number of girls to boys taking up STEM subjects.
This Saturday (18th January), I was invited to take part in a ‘Guides Do STEM!’ event being held by the UHI STEM team up at the campus. Girl guides (approximately 80) from all over the Inverness-shire region came along for a day of educational activities lead by UHI with ambassadors and students assisting. After a fact finding mission, in the form of a scavanger hunt where girls had to answer questions about notable ladies in STEM, they broke off into activity groups.
The mazes all ready to go….
Myself and Evelyn from the UHI Stem team led a session with Sphero robots. We created mazes in tape across the floor and the girls had to use block coding to program their robots to navigate the mazes. I also spoke with the girls about my position at Calico, how I’d gotten to be working here and that as well as IT skills, soft skills are just as important. They had to work in their teams, communicate with each other and work on problem solving to complete the challenge.
Me in the distance helping one of the guide teams
The mazes were difficult to navigate in the time, but all of the girls showed a great enthusiasm and intently worked on getting the lit up balls to go where they wanted them. We also had fun with the robots, allowing the girls to play with them in drive mode where it was like using a remote control car.
Enthusiastic girl guides block coding
In other groups the girls had activities in microbiology and DNA, and maths and engineering challenges such as raft building. It was a non stop day, and all of the girl guides got to try their hand at all of the activities. I was bowled over by how excited everyone was and how engaged they were with the block coding activity. I can certainly see some future IT wizards, scientists, mathematicians and engineers coming out of the group. Following the success of the day, I hope to be involved again when the UHI Stem team run another event for the Ross-shire guilde groups. I was also delighted to receive a gift from the guides for helping out on the day. – Kirsty
Grace Hopper – the ultimate STEM lady!