We’re delighted to announce our continued partnership with Fab Lab London as part of our mission to bring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) careers to life for local children.
Our project, iDiscover, is a unique, week-long STEM programme which puts children’s science and technology learning into a real world context and brings STEM role models into the classroom. We provide schools with resources, lesson plans and access to exciting STEM venues and workplaces – such as Fab Lab London!
Every Year 5 pupil in a participating school will visit Fab Lab and take part in a coding workshop: supported by Salesforce volunteers, they will work in small teams to programme the movements of a Mirobot, seeing first-hand how accessible – and powerful – coding is. The session is part of a week of coding-related activities for this year group, collectively known as ‘iGame’.
Piloted in three Hackney primary schools last year, supported by funding from the Mercers’ Company, the Royal Society of Chemistry and Salesforce.org, iDiscover has already had a big impact on local children. By bringing diverse volunteers from a wide range of STEM-related professions into schools, the iDiscover pilots not only got children excited about STEM, they also helped to break down pervasive stereotypes about who ‘should’ be doing these jobs. Before taking part in iDiscover, 52% of Year 2 pupils at one primary school responded ‘No’ or ‘Don’t know’ to the question, ‘Are girls good at science?’. After taking part in iDiscover, all but one of these students had changed their minds.
The impact of the pilots was clear across the board: one teacher said that after a session meeting a group of volunteer engineers, all of their pupils “could say what STEM careers were and most expressed an interest in doing one when they are older”. In the context of a STEM workforce suffering from a chronic lack of diversity, iDiscover’s ability to boost interest in STEM professions at primary level is a huge asset.
As a testament to the success of the pilot, in July 2015 Salesforce employees in London selected Inspire! to receive a grant of $100,000 – one of ten such grants made by Salesforce.org to celebrate the organisation’s staff volunteering 1 million hours of their time.
Additional repeat backing for the project has come from the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Chemistry at Work scheme, which is funding elements of the programme in 5 primary schools.
We have also recently received a grant from the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers – via the Engineering Education Grants Scheme – to extend iDiscover’s reach into Camden primary schools.
Thanks to the generous support of our funders, we are able to offer iDiscover to schools at a greatly reduced cost. Six primary schools have already signed up for iDiscover this school year, and we hope to deliver the programme to a total of 8 schools between now and December 2016. Our primary team have been working hard to develop the programme’s scope and impact further, and, with the support of partners like Fab Lab, and a highly motivated cohort of volunteer STEM professionals, we are looking forward to bringing iDiscover’s inspirational message and experiences to new groups of local young people.