More than 90 young people from across Oban and Lorn had an informative and fun day out when they attended an ‘Under the Sea’ Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) event at The Ocean Explorer Centre in Dunbeg.
Primary five pupils from a number of schools in the area joined secondary pupils from Oban High for the event, where they experienced a range of fun STEM activities including boatbuilding, seabed sampling, learning about microplastics, making a sea-themed video game, LEGO robotics and green screen movies. The children were also given the opportunity to hear all about what life is like working in the Arctic.
The Ocean Explorer Centre is a visitor centre for the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), which is the UK’s oldest oceanographic institution and a founding member of the University of the Highlands and Islands. The venue enables learning about marine life and empowers visitors to understand and contribute to a sustainably managed marine environment.
At the end of the event, pupils gave their feedback on the day by completing an evaluation. The results indicated that 37.5 % of the girls would like a STEM job in the future; compared with the 22% of women working in STEM careers in the UK in 2018.
Pupils’ scoring of the event was also encouraging, with an average rating of 9.3/10. On average, 96% of pupils felt they learned more about technology from the event, and 90% said the same about science, 75% about engineering and 35% about maths.
The Council’s Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: “This event was a great opportunity for young people in Oban to see that STEM is not necessarily difficult or inaccessible, and to promote the local STEM opportunities that are available for learners in the Oban area.
“It is very encouraging to hear that so many young women would like to pursue a career in STEM in the future too. Young women are far too often underrepresented in these fields and this is something that needs to be addressed. Our children and young people should be able to do any career they wish; gender should not come into it. Our schools are doing great things to get this message out there and it is obviously working.”
The event followed on from last year’s highly successful “Mission to Mars” STEM event at Dunoon Grammar School that was organised by Argyll and Bute Council’s Digital Learning Team. The team is now planning for its next two STEM events in March.
This series of STEM events comes as a result of the Digital Learning Team obtaining funding for a STEM professional learning grant from Education Scotland. The aim of the grant is to develop the capacity and confidence of practitioners, as well as supporting the implementation of Education Scotland’s STEM Education and Training Strategy.