Young people at schools in the West End of Newcastle have enjoyed a STEMtastic week thanks to a £3,000 grant from the Enviresearch Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland. Pupils were encouraged to explore science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) through a series of engaging and interactive lessons and videos from influential scientists including astronaut Tim Peake.    

The lessons were run by the West End Schools Trust in partnership with the Centre for Life. The popular ‘I’m a Scientist’ session allowed students to ask a professional scientist questions about their chosen career and their thoughts on the best and worst things about it. 

Elaine Holdsworth, Senior Philanthropy Officer at the Community Foundation said: 

“The Enviresearch Fund has supported the programme twice and both times, they have clearly demonstrated how STEM subjects have been brought to life for students. It is wonderful to hear about young people being inspired and because of this, aspiring to careers in those subject areas”. 

During the week, the 360 young people were given a variety of STEMtastic resources including a lab coat, science kit bag and experiment sheets. As they all had their own resources, they were able to get involved in a variety of ‘hands on’ activities such as making their own catapults. The feedback from the students was positive with one saying, ‘I thought it was so much fun testing out the catapult’ and another adding, ‘at first I thought it was quite difficult, then once I tried and continued to adapt my resources, I found it was fun and easy’. 

Katie Crumbley, a Year 6 Class Teacher from Bridgewater School explained why it was important gateway into STEM subjects: 

“I think it’s really important to introduce children to STEM at a young age to develop their creative skills and investigative skills. It gives the children freedom to explore the resources and engineer themselves to get things to work, rather than following step by step instructions. It also inspires them to potentially pursue a career in engineering or STEM in the future.’ 

Helen Thomson, Trust Officer at the West End Schools’ Trust said: 

“STEMtastic allowed our children opportunities to think critically and come up with their own solutions. We are grateful for the support of Enviresearch Fund which enabled our children to connect activities and experiences to real life STEM careers”.