Over the years I’ve enthused in public about science, to various audiences. I have given seminars to graduate students and faculty about being an editor at Your Favourite Etc., and if you don’t believe me here’s the evidence. Notwithstanding inasmuch as which I have talked about science to a roomful of 10-year-olds, and whole assembly halls packed with 14-year-olds. For some years, on and off, I have been a judge for a formal science debating competition between highschoolers in an inner-city borough. I have even talked about fossils with infant-schoolers (who enjoyed playing with my fossil collection.)
However, it wasn’t until I read Laurence Cox’s comments on this post by Prof. A. D. of Cambridge that I realised that this activity has a name: STEM Ambassador, where STEM stands for ‘Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths’. So I hied forthwith (or, if you are reading this on a mobile device, fifthwith) to this website and registered.
STEM Ambassadors are there to help teachers in science-related activities; to enthuse, to mentor and inspire. The definition of STEM is extraordinarily wide. There are STEM Ambassadors who are DJs (technology, electronics) and hairdressers (chemistry.) STEM Ambassadors are volunteers, and if you are a teacher in any school or FE college (and, from next year, university) you can request a STEM Ambassador to fulfil your every need (within reason.) Altogether there are more than 49,500 STEM Ambassadors in Britain (I was, actually, the 49,500th) grouped by county. The Norfolk chapter of STEMNET (the STEM Network) is organised through the University of East Anglia (UEA) and this morning I went there
to learn the secret handshake for an induction session.
My fellow inductees were a high-powered group. They included (apart from me) -
* A management consultant, trained in psychology;
* a biological sciences lecturer who had become involvd in admissions to the UEA medical school;
* a mathematician who had got diverted into IT;
* a businessman who, having run his own software business for 15 years, was distressed by the scarcity of young people able to program computers;
* a retired head teacher who now spends as much time as possible as a glider pilot. ‘The purpose of propellers in aircraft is to keep the pilot cool,’ he said. ‘You can tell this from the amount the pilot sweats when the propellers stop turning.’
* a regional business manager for GirlGuiding UK;
* a research scientist at the John Innes Institute.
Of the eight, all but two were middle-aged white men of a certain age.
Now I have to wait for my Criminal Records Bureau check to go through, after which the STEM people at UEA will send me orders for my first mission behind enemy lines, probably without air cover or a safety net.