It was an evening of celebration for many students from across Norfolk at the new Enterprise Centre at UEA on the 30 June as they received the first ever Youth STEMM Bronze Awards.
The inaugural awards were presented by two Professors who have both given the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures and who will be patrons of the Youth STEMM Award in the coming year, Danielle George of the University of Manchester and Mark Midownik of University College London.
Developed by John Innes Centre scientist Samantha Fox and secondary school principal Dr Simon Fox, the Youth STEMM Award, or YSA, is a new scheme aimed at providing young people with a framework to explore the STEMM* areas and establish a solid foundation of experience and skills to help them move on to careers in these sectors.
*Science – Technology – Engineering – Maths – Medicine
The YSA has gained the support of many schools across Norfolk, and its popularity is growing, Samantha Fox explains, “With this exciting new initiative we are helping Norfolk’s young people to explore and develop their knowledge and passion for STEMM subjects as well as showcasing what interesting and rewarding careers await them.”
Nearly 70 young people achieved the Award in its first year, and the numbers are set to rise as more Norfolk schools join the scheme. Supported by the University of East Anglia and the John Innes Centre in its first year, both organisations are continuing to back the scheme in the second year, and the hope is that even more schools will continue to get involved from across the Eastern region.
Dr Simon Fox said, “We’re delighted to have received such fantastic support from these two world-class regional STEMM employers. We’re hoping this will continue to attract more schools to participate in the 2016-17 cohort, and we are also expanding the range of organisations we are working with.”
The YSA is structured similarly to some other well-established award schemes, such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. There are four threads, for each of which participants must complete a certain number of hours and meet certain expectations in order to achieve the Bronze award.
But the scheme doesn’t simply provide students with events and opportunities to tick-off their goals. The onus is very much on the participants and their schools to independently arrange activities and seek out relevant experiences, such as inspiring younger children by helping to run a science lesson. The YSA provides the necessary framework to guide the students to find the gaps in their STEMM experience and fill them, in preparation for a future in STEMM.
As Kate Nichols, Assistant Head at CNS explained, “We have really enjoyed running the YSA at the City of Norwich School – An Ormiston Academy, this year and the opportunities and sense of achievement it has created. Our pilot year saw nine girls achieve the award and we have had forty incredibly keen scientists sign up to the second year.”
Amelia who has applied this year said “I think it will be a fantastic opportunity for me and other young people my age to take part in something that we wouldn’t usually get to do. It will give me a real insight into many potential careers that I haven’t thought about doing before as well as being an amazing opportunity to meet many inspiring people.”