Maria grew up in Malta and attended its one and only university. In Summer 2010 she graduated in Mechanical Engineering, and later that year started an EngD at the University of Bristol and Rolls-Royce. Maria has always loved writing and, as an undergraduate student dealing mostly with numbers and single Greek letters, decided to start writing for student newspapers and websites.
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During March we celebrated National Science and Engineering Week and I became a STEM ambassador and helped out at The Big Bang Fair. In this article I will give some thoughts on why science and engineering university students might like to volunteer with school children. And I will give a few examples of how you can get involved.
We hear a lot in the news about how there are not enough young people studying the STEM subjects – that’s science, technology, engineering and maths – and how this will lead to an insufficient number of engineers in the near future. However, encouraging more young people to pursue STEM subjects and careers is not the only reason why I have decided to volunteer with school children or why I would strongly encourage others to do so.
There is a need for more people to volunteer with children of school age, from reading buddies to Brownie group leaders. Being a science or engineering student, however, might mean that your talents and skills lie mostly in these subjects and therefore volunteering in a STEM project might be the best thing you can do with the least effort i.e. the most efficient!
As with all volunteering, it is true that you get more than you give back. You learn from those you are trying to teach and younger people’s enthusiasm can really rekindle your love of STEM, especially if you are stuck in the day-to-day grind of a PhD or job.
At school, science subjects, including maths are often deemed difficult and “scary” or only for the “nerdy” children to excel at. Meeting role models, male and female, of different ages and appearances breaks down stereotypes and encourages children to feel that these subjects really...
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