This STEM Person of the week pack has been created by Museums Northumberland for the Union Chain Bridge project and it is available for use by all.
Each set of STEM Person of the Week resources includes postcard-sized profiles of five people who work in STEM. These individuals are local or directly connected to the Union Chain Bridge restoration works. They have been carefully chosen to reflect a diverse range of STEM roles and people within each pack.
Rather than focus on the academic route to a career, this resource focuses on the characteristics that are important in each role. There are 15 characteristics used in each set and the use of these helps to broaden the vocabulary of students, as well as countering the stereotypical words often associated with STEM roles such as ‘messy hair’ and ‘genius’.
Research by NUSTEM has shown that even one year after running this intervention children were using “fewer stereotypical words to describe scientists and significantly more positive characteristics to describe the scientists”.
The aim is that, through this activity, students identify with these characteristics and see what they have in common with STEM workers, helping build an affinity towards them and future STEM roles.
Guidance for running STEM Person of the Week
This activity is suitable for students from aged 5+ and it is recommended that the whole school engage with the activity together. It is designed to be run by class teachers over a five-week period.
At the beginning of each week students are introduced to one of the STEM People of the Week. This could be done in a whole school assembly, or in class by a teacher using either a poster or showing them on screen. Teachers should discuss the worker and their role with students and draw attention to the characteristics highlighted for that week and their definitions.
Throughout the week students and teachers should look out for examples of when the characteristics are being shown and praise this. For example, when a student has been creative or resilient.
Give students copies of the postcards to remind them of the person they are focusing on each week. These can either be kept in school or taken home at the end of the week for students to discuss and share with their families.
The back of the postcards has a space for students to fill in with examples of where they have used the characteristics. They could do this in their own time or as part of a session in class. For younger students this could be done as part of small group time with a teacher discussing and recording examples with students.
It is worth taking the time to think about how this activity will run best in your school. Examples from teachers who have run this activity previously include:
Enlarging the back of the cards to A3/4 and filling them in as a whole class or in groups for younger students
Looking at the personal characteristics with dictionaries / thesauruses in a focus group
Enlarging the back of the cards to A3/4 and annotating with facts about those careers that the class has found out
We’d love to know how you use these resources so feel free to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to do your own bit of research on your class, you could run a short session before starting STEM Person of the Week where you get students to list words they associate with working in STEM. By recording this at the start of the exercise and then repeating it again at the end of term it is easy to compare how students’ perceptions and vocabulary has changed from taking part in the activity.
For further background information and research related to the resource please visit www.nustem.uk/stem-person-of-the-week.