Published: 23 March 2021
Science ambassador schemes are a great way to develop and nurture young scientists, enhancing their communication skills, leadership and confidence, whilst encouraging them to share their enthusiasm and knowledge with younger students.
Jackie Flaherty is Director of STEM at Chipping Campden School and Teaching & Learning Lead for The Ogden Trust; STEM clubs and science ambassadors are a long established part of the extra-curricular activities at her school.
Currently, Jackie has 10 student ambassadors who have been working with The Royal Institution to prepare a masterclass series based on the science of climate change. Although current restrictions may mean that face-to-face clubs are not possible, online interactions mean that, in fact, distance is no object!
The student ambassadors from Chipping Campden School are now working with pupils at Richard Taylor Primary in North Yorkshire, hub for the Ogden Harrogate Partnership. “We are now delivering the pilot scheme and have plans to roll it out with our national network of schools,” says Jackie. “Developing this new masterclass has provided my sixth form students with a brilliant opportunity to work with younger students and develop their science communication skills.”
The schools first worked together for a TEDx Global Youth Countdown talk on climate change in 2020 and the ambassadors are now leading weekly online sessions for more than 30 Year 4 and 5 pupils. Over the course of six weeks, they will look at the causes, impact and possible solutions to the climate crisis through a series of practical activities and challenges.
“It’s a fantastic scheme in which everyone benefits,” says Emma Crisell, Deputy Head at Richard Taylor and lead for the Harrogate Partnership. “The pupils loved the first session looking at food waste; next they are looking at icebergs!
“It is a great way of inspiring primary aged children to see the relevance and importance of science, whilst developing important communication skills in the older students,” add Emma. “Using technology, distance is no longer a barrier; it is enabling our younger students and the excellent sixth form role models from Chipping Campden to work together. This benefits everyone!”
“The scheme has allowed us to develop our science communication skills and increase our confidence. Alongside this we have had the opportunity to develop our leadership skills and improve our time management skills.”
Y12 student, Chipping Campden School
A STEM clubs handbook, produced by STEM Learning in consultation with the Trust, is available to provide advice and guidance to teachers planning student-led STEM clubs. It includes the why and how of running a STEM club together with an overview of a typical scheme and case studies from established clubs.
It can be used in conjunction with the Ogden student handbook (available in word or as a pdf for printing) which has been produced to help students to collate their STEM club research, planning and delivery.