Students – and lecturer – to inspire young minds about the wonders of STEM

Date 27.02.2020

A lecturer’s passion to open children’s eyes to the wonders of science and technology continues as she launches a new ‘student buddies’ project.

Dr Josephine Chen-Wilson is a Senior Lecturer in Developmental and Educational Psychology who joined the University of Northampton in September 2018.

What drives ‘Dr Jo’ is to encourage children from backgrounds who don’t traditionally consider science and technology as career paths to ‘peer into the microscope’ and see the many roads science can take them down.

She explains: “Science is something I have a long-standing relationship with because I was introduced to it as a child and my love for it grew from there. I strongly believe in giving some of that feeling back.

“All children in primary schools should have the same opportunity as me, to learn about the vast range of ‘STEM’ subjects out there. This is especially important for those from communities where resources and the chance to meet STEM professionals in person might be more limited.”

Now, Dr Jo has kicked-off a project called STEM4Me in which she has created a mini ambassadorial army to help inspire more children and young people to look more closely at these fields.

The aim of this Changemaker-backed* initiative is for UON students from psychology and computing to work together and deliver training workshops aimed at enlightening and stimulating school children from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Studies have found that socioeconomic status had the strongest impact on whether secondary school students study STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths).

This week, UON students (pictured above with Dr Jo) met to start developing the training they will give, around the time of British Science Week in March.

The two schools signed up are Kings Heath Academy and Lumbertubs Primary. Aside from learning more about the world of STEM from young people just starting their science and tech careers, the school children will receive free UON goodie bags that include disposable ‘VR goggles’.

Kimberley French is a third-year psychology student: “I signed-up for STEM4Me because I also believe primary school children should be able to experience psychology as much as any other science. It’s so important in our everyday lives to understand how the mind works and how behaviours appear in certain situations. It’s also a great chance to further hone my communication and leadership skills.”

Mercy Dapel is studying computing and added: “I signed up for STEM4Me because I love to work with children and at the same time share my knowledge about computers with them to boost their interest in this. I think it will give me a really good feeling knowing my work may inspire children about their future.”

It is hoped that research into the success of STEM4Me will follow next year.

*Changemaker is a University of Northampton-wide initiative which focuses on staff and students finding solutions to environmental or social problems to improve people’s lives, either at home or abroad.