One of the most inspiring moments in our journey was seeing Professor Robert Winston speak at the Mayor of London's Education Conference back in November 2014.
Being one of a number of people on a panel discussing STEM in education and after hearing various perspectives, Prof. Winston banged his fist on the table and said “we've got to get them in primary”.
And those words have been a part of nearly every presentation we’ve given since on STEAM Co. including this 2 minute pitch on STEAM Co. to the RSA.
It takes a whole village...
But as we've also said primary teachers are flat out teaching children to read, write and do maths. They can't be experts in science, creativity, coding, drama, music. That's why we‘re doing everything we can to bring the community into primary schools, because as we say ‘it takes a whole village to inspire a child’.
Indeed we've seen Prof. Winston speak at a number of events since such as BETT2016 where we did a few talks too. At an education conference in Cardiff he spoke further on the subject of teachers and the role of communities in primary schools.
Inspiring the next generation of scientists
So it was great to see him in this film and article in the Daily Telegraph where he was in conversation with Dr Patrick Vallance of GSK discussing the ‘pressing need to raise awareness among young people of the importance and value of science’.
Both men described how they’d been inspired to get into science as children.
For Dr Vallance it was a Mr Clarke: “I was curious but I remember really struggling to understand organic chemistry… it was a teacher who was both exciting and inspired himself.... but because he had a deep understanding he was able to lift the veil and help me understand”.
As Prof. WInston says “Children ARE Inquisitive. They DO want to know science and ARE excited by it. We have a big problem in primary, because despite being excellent teachers, most of them haven’t done science yet have to answer the most difficult questions of all… like why bruises change colour or how spiders think. The potential is absolutely there but we just aren’t exploiting it”.
We'd seen GSK at the Big Bang Fair a few weeks back where they had a whole stand dedicated to their work around finding a cure for malaria. You can see them in the film we made from that trip below.
It was good to hear Dr Vallance commenting on the great work that GSK do in education through their STEM Ambassadors in the STEMNET programme. The only problem with this is that the STEMNET only really target secondary schools. And where do we have to get them? ;-)
Prof Winston is based at Imperial College London - pride of the UK having been recently announced as the best university in the world over the American ivy league universities like Harvard and Stanford.
We’re big fans of Imperial not least because of the fantastic Imperial Spark initiative and the Imperial Fringe Festival which we popped along to last year 4, but also the fantastic work that Prof. Winston and his team do with Imperial Outreach, bringing school children in to a custom lab environment for an amazing day of practical science activities.
In the GSK film, Prof. Winston says himself: “I had a wonderfully privileged practical education, practical work turned me on. For the majority of children, practical work is very important”.
But for all the hundreds of children that are lucky enough to attend this outreach facility in Kensington every year, many more thousands across London if not millions in the rest of the UK or not so fortunate. And never will be.
This is where STEAM Co.’s scalable model comes into its own and we would dearly love to see more world famous and inspiring scientists like Prof. Winston become STEAM Co. Inspirators and go into schools with us just once with an activity that we can film, package and get out to every school across the UK to be run by parents, teachers and other members of the community on their STEAM Co. Days.
See the film above to see the story of how world famous designer and inventor Dominic Wilcox is working with us as a STEAM Co. Inspirator to do exactly this.
S is for science.
While our main objective for STEAM Co.is to promote and encourage the importance of creativity across education, business and society, we believe in doing this through the STEAM skills of Science, Tech, Engineering, Art and Maths.
And science is a critical aspect of this - from biochemistry to astrophysics.
We’ve featured very simple science experiments and activities on STEAM Co. Days and recently submitted an application to work with the Wellcome Trust in their arts fund project to communicate core biochemistry principles by proposing an exciting collaboration between a light artist, Mick Stephenson who spoke at and ran an activity at our recent Sunderland launch event and one of STEAM Co’s advisors, Professor Dave Hornby, Professor of Biochemistry at Sheffield University who works very closely with the Liverpool LifeScience UTC where we held our Liverpool launch event.
Take a look at the talk above that Professor Dave gave on his thoughts around Art in Science.
Science for all
Our Liverpool launch event also featured a talk by ‘Beauty and the Geeks’, a charitable initiative based out of Newcastle who are on a mission to inspire more girls to take up science.
Inclusivity is key to STEAM CO. and to this point, we were horrified to a hear, at a conference on inclusivity in STEAM education that we spoke at at Cambridge University just last week, that 50% of UK secondary schools don't send any girls to study A-level physics!!!
INSPIRATION AND RESOURCES
We don’t usually run STEAM Co. Days - we provide the inspiration and resources for communities to run their own days, like the community of the Spinney School did here.
But there needs to be exception to every rule and we’re currently helping plan one for a school in North London that is in the poorest 10% of the UK and here around 60 languages are spoken by the school’s 800 pupils.
We’re looking for local North London companies to sponsor that day as well as to join community and creativity minded companies like Barclays and National Grid as launch sponsors to help with the bigger STEAM Co. picture as well as inspiring people - parents, carers, students, artists and creatives to help on STEAM Co. Days.
We passionately believe that Universities have a massive part to play in STEAM Co. Just look at the passion and enthusiasm in Chris Khoo, a neuroscience student we met at an event organised by our friends at the Cambridge Science Centre at the Barclays Eagle Labs.
We need to connect all this passion and expertise with primary schools.
If you’d like work with us or find out more, do sign up on the form on the home page here.
We're delighted to announce that Prof Winston has agreed to talk on creativity at our 'Blue Sky' event in Canary Wharf on the evening of 24th May 2016.
We have a fantastic line up of speakers across creativity, education, business and community.
More info and tickets here.