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Girls into STEAM day at the University of Northampton

Northampton boost for science

The University of Northampton is playing a key role in helping reverse a decline in the popularity of science subjects in schools

Posted by Hannah Oakman | March 30, 2016 | Teaching

A report by the Careers and Enterprise Company has found Northamptonshire lags behind neighbouring counties when it comes to numbers of A-level students who choose to study STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths). The study revealed the county has a 13 per cent lower take up of STEM subjects compared to Buckinghamshire, for instance.

Meanwhile, research from the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) suggests interest levels in STEM subjects dip in secondary school years, with engagement in maths and science dropping by 74% in girls, and 56% in boys during that time.

“The way to get school children interested in STEM subjects is to catch them early and then keep offering opportunities to get them re-enthused,” said John Sinclair, Acting Dean of the School of Science and Technology at the University.

“That is why our STEM outreach and in-reach efforts at the University of Northampton cover the range from primary to A-level.”

He added: “It is crucial that we help secure the flow of future students, both through our STEM work with schools and through adapting our offers to ensure that students who take BTEC science or technology – and who won’t be included in the Careers and Enterprise Company figures – know that we are delighted to receive their applications for study.”

In March, the University opened its doors to Year 3 pupils from 18 county schools for its latest event to inspire girls to get involved in the sciences. During the day, around 200 girls enjoyed a variety of fun STEAM-themed (STEM plus Arts subjects) workshops and demonstrations.

Teaching Assistant at Ecton Brook Primary School, Emma Carroll, accompanied some Year 3 schoolgirls to the Girls into STEAM Day. She said: “Year 3 is the key age that the University has identified as being make-or-break for girls and STEM subjects.

“If you don’t show them how fun these subjects can be, then you risk losing them forever.

Photograph credit: Jess Streeton.

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