STUDENTS at two Coventry schools are taking part in a new project aimed at helping young people reach their full potential in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.
The pupils at Stoke Park School and the Blue Coat Church of England School are participating in the after school sessions funded by a £100,000 grant from the Cadent Foundation.
The CASE (Cadent Foundation After-School Science and Engineering) clubs are being run by education and youth charity City Year UK.
By experimenting through engineering, the clubs are designed to bring STEM to life in a way that is accessible and exciting.
Over the course of six weeks, students will engage in various hands-on activities such as building rockets and designing roller-coasters as a way of using problem-solving-based learning to explore key engineering themes.
As well as helping to improve academic performance, the clubs also help children develop essential life skills such as problem solving, self-confidence, positive decision-making, teamwork and communication.
The sessions are run by near-peer volunteer mentors (18 to 25 years) and employees from Cadent Gas will also support the mentors as STEM role models to help bring to life careers in engineering. Each student who takes part in the project will receive a British Science Association CREST Award, a nationally recognised scheme for student-led projects in STEM subjects.
Students at Stoke Park School took part in the pilot phase of the project earlier this year.
Laura Meyrick, Director of Year 7 at Stoke Park said: “It has been such a phenomenal experience watching our young students grow during this STEM club.
“Our learners have grown in confidence, indulged in Science and have become leaders of their learning.”
Positive comments from the students included it made the subjects fun, they enjoyed making rockets and some who said they did not usually like science but ‘this was good’.
The CASE Clubs are being rolled out in 15 schools across the West Midlands and North London.
Kevin Munday, Chief Executive at City Year UK said: “We’re extremely grateful to the Cadent Foundation for this funding which is helping us to tackle educational inequality and engage more children in creative STEM learning activities.
“Around 30 per cent of children are growing up in poverty in the UK and too often, their prospects are linked to how much their family earns.
“By age 11, less than half of pupils entitled to free school meals reach the standards expected in reading, writing and maths.
“Children who participate in extracurricular activities perform better in school, build confidence and gain social skills, however children from deprived communities are three times less likely to participate in extracurricular activities compared to their wealthier peers.”
Julia Dwyer, Director of the Cadent Foundation, explains why it is important to invest in STEM education: “We are delighted to be able to support City Year UK with this exciting new project.
“As technologies continue to develop and create innovative job opportunities, we need to prepare to meet those needs.
“By investing in STEM education and exposing students to hands-on STEM experiences we will ensure that they have the skill sets needed to build the strong and sustainable communities of the future.
“Through the CASE Clubs young people will have the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge, gain valuable insights into STEM careers and be better equipped to access opportunities to become the next generation of scientists, computer programmers, technicians and engineers.”
And go to www.cityyear.org.uk for further details about City Year UK, including how people can apply to become a volunteer mentor or get their schools involved.