Earlier this year I applied to become a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) ambassador and today took part in my first STEM activity today.
STEM Ambassador Program
For those of you not familiar with the STEM program it is large network of volunteers from a wide variety of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related jobs who offer up their time to try and inspire the next generation.
Primary schools, high schools or colleges can ask for volunteers to come along to their schools and events and help out.
More information on how to get involved with the STEM Ambassador program can be found on their official website https://www.stem.org.uk and I would urge anyone you is passionate about the job they do in the STEM sector to sign up and volunteer.
Becoming a STEM Ambassador
I applied to become a STEM ambassador at the start of the year, and signed up for the training event that every ambassador needs to complete as part of the sign up process. At the training event I had also had to fill in the paperwork to get cleared via the Disclosure Scotland scheme and Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme.
It took a while for that paperwork to come through but at the start of September I got the all clear and officially became a STEM Ambassador.
My first STEM Event
STEM Ambassadors can log into the STEM website and search for activities that are looking for volunteers. Last week I decided to check into the website and see what activities were looking for someone to help. During my search I discovered that my old high school, Strathaven Academy were running a STEM week and had put a call out for volunteers to come and speak to S2 classes (12-13 year olds).
I thought it would be very cool to go back to my old high school and show some of the kids the journey I had taken since leaving there.
So after a few hours trying to pull together a presentation and practicing I arrived at Strathaven Academy. Since I've left the school the buildings where I had my classes have been demolished and all new buildings have been built, so it was a complete and utter shock to arrive.
The Science department in the school were running the STEM event so I was showed up to the Science staff room and introduced to everyone and the other STEM volunteer. I must admit, I felt very grown up being allowed in a teacher's staff room!
I was quite nervous going into the classroom for my first session, but after getting started with my presentation I got into my stride. The kids had some interesting questions for me, some around what the food was like in the office canteen, as well as questions around what it's like to work for Microsoft.
After the break I went into another classroom and spoke to another group. I was a less nervous delivering the presentation to this group of students and there were some great questions from the kids. They were asking about who my idols were, whether or not I see myself still in computing for the rest of my life, where do I think Microsoft will be in 20 years, etc.
It was really an eye opener for me about what they were looking for from me and where their level of knowledge about Computing and the Cloud were at.
It was really a great opportunity and being able to go back to my old high school was an added bonus. The presentation that I pulled together for this session was okay, but now that I've delivered it and interacted with the children I've realised I need to do something different in the future. Try and give them a bit more and be a bit more interactive. But that's what these occasions are all about, giving back and learning at the same time.
Please do take the time to find out more about the STEM Ambassador program and sign up to become one.
As always if you’d like to reach out and speak to me about any of the above please get in touch via Twitter @TechieLass