Forge your Future – challenging perceptions of STEM and inspiring the next generation

Pupils take on the challenge of building a loudspeaker out of Sellotape, cardboard, magnets, wire coil, wooden board and lots of elastic bands.

On Wednesday 28 March the Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS) Outreach team welcomed 115 year 10 girls from eight local Birmingham schools for Forge your Future, a careers-focused Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) day.

During a busy but productive day pupils had the opportunity to speak to university alumni, take part in interactive workshops and explore the campus. Sessions highlighted how STEM subjects can be a highly rewarding option at A-level and beyond, as well as giving students a taster of studying at the University of Birmingham.

Dr Hannah Price, Birmingham Fellow and a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Theoretical Physics group, kicked off the event with a talk challenging the perceptions of STEM subjects and also the obstacles faced, particularly by women in pursuing a career in the area.

Each pupil then took part in a number of sessions that ran in parallel during the day.  These included a session based on the Women in Science and Engineering - People Like ME campaign, which brought together participating students to think about what career might suit them (kindly led by Dr Kat Grover, Dr Sara Jabbari and Dr Louise Male);  two hands-on workshops, Building Loudspeakers (led by Dr Vicky Mann), and Interactive Machine Learning (led by Dr Sandy Gould);  a Campus Tour led by student ambassadors; and the chance to talk to female STEM professionals - all recent graduates from the University of Birmingham - about their careers and personal experiences (they were Gemma Cupples, Becky Drew, Jo Maguire, Daisy Partlow and Chloe Spalding). 

The attending school pupils were evidently engaged and interested, and were also encouraged to research anything they had found particularly interesting throughout the day. The students went away from the day with a bag including a booklet detailing the different types of Engineering and Physical Sciences, a noteworthy character phone-stand, as well as some other goodies.

The EPS Outreach team would like to thank all the staff, alumni and the 11 student ambassadors for their hard work in making the day run as smoothly as successfully as it did. Thanks also go to the Ironmongers’ Company for their kind sponsorship and support towards the day.

During the year the EPS Outreach team organise a programme of events to inspire the next generation to continue studying STEM subjects. Upcoming events include a Discovery Day for year 10 students, and Work Experience and Taster Days for year 12 students. If you would be interested in getting involved with these, or are doing any STEM Outreach work yourself, then contact the team at liaison@maths.bham.ac.uk.