Kristina Scheibler-Frood (24) and Joanna Stanyard (23) are structural engineers working at the firm URS. During November they spent time at the St Thomas Moore Language College in London, volunteering at the school’s Monday evening science club - bringing engineering alive for interested children through a bridge building competition run over five weeks. Here they tell us why this work is so important.
We volunteer at the science club to help get children enthusiastic about maths and science, by showing them how it can be applied within engineering. In particular we found that it is important to try and encourage girls into these subjects, as many still see these as male orientated.
This was our first experience volunteering in a school and although preparation was difficult, the effort made by the teachers and children was very inspiring. We were really encouraged by the number of students who chose to come along to science club – many of whom didn’t want to leave at the end of the session. The whole experience has been incredibly rewarding and we hope to be involved in further projects like this.
It really helps to do these kind of activities to show pupils how maths and science can be applied in a fun and engaging way. It important to introduce them to these types of activities at an early stage to ensure they can appreciate the wider application of maths and science, which could influence their choice of career.
Schemes such as STEM Ambassadors are very encouraging and are in place all over the country, but there is still far more that can be done to make young people aware of the career opportunities available. Engineering is still behind other STEM based sectors such as medicine in encouraging students (especially females) to pursue careers. As people do not come in to contact with structural engineers in their everyday lives, as they do with doctors, the sector needs to work particularly hard to promote the interesting and varied careers available in engineering.
We can do this by showing that engineering affects everything around us – the houses we live in, the roads we travel on, the bridge you cross to get to work - and by creating more and better avenues into careers, like scholarships, work experience, field trips and also by offering more apprenticeships as a viable route from school level.
We’d like to thank everyone at St Thomas Moore School for a great experience, and look forward to seeing some science club members make brilliant future engineers!