Award Winning STEM Adventure Programme is looking for a Commercial Partner

“STEM Adventure” is an award-winning programme developed by the White Hall Outdoor Education Centre. It is designed to inspire young people into STEM subjects and careers through the medium of outdoor and adventurous activities.

According to STEM, skills shortages are costing the sector £1.5bn per year. There is a shortfall of 173,000 skilled workers and business are struggling to recruit. STEM Adventure is designed to address this problem.

The programme is targeted at 9 to 14-year-olds. This approach would benefit everybody and in particular, those who don’t engage with STEM subjects such as those in receipt of free school meals, those who are neither outstanding or in need of additional support, and females.

The programme was piloted in March 2018 with funding from industry and consists of 3 components.

1. Outdoor and adventurous activities which explore a concept from the STEM curriculum.

For example:

  • Climbing is used to explore Hooke’s law through rope stretch,
  • Bushcraft session investigates energy transfers and has a problem-solving component in building an adjustable pot hanger out of natural materials
  • The wave equation is examined through canoeing
  • Mountain biking session looks at a number of concepts such as average speed as well as deceleration through braking efficiency
  • Water rockets are used to investigate the relationship between launch angle and distance travelled.

2. An inspiring industrial visit where pupils observe industrial processes, meet employees, undertake a practical challenge and find out about career pathways

3. A presentation at the students’ school, which facilitates reflection and evaluation.

The programme content was carefully created in collaboration with experts to maximise opportunities to use technical language correctly; improve understanding of more demanding STEM concepts; increase awareness of the relevance of STEM in everyday life; increase knowledge of local and national STEM-based career pathways; create an opportunity to engage in a metacognitive process by reflecting on their participation and presenting it to others.

The programme also facilitates a richer relationship between the accompanying teacher and their students as a consequence of a shared positive experience.

The programme is an excellent example of partnership working. Relationships have been built with National Governing Bodies, industry, academia and a charity which promotes physics education. All of these organisations have either donated money or their expertise to the development of the programme.

The programme has a thorough evaluation process (developed with the support of partners) and shows strong evidence of students both enjoying the programme and being more likely to choose science-based careers.

Since the pilot further links have been built. For example, a discussion is taking place with the STEM department at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry to develop a STEM Adventure programme that facilitates transition between Primary and Secondary Schools. There is also a conversation with U-Explore about using their START careers platform as a mechanism to further evaluate impact.

We are continuing to explore how to make STEM Adventure replicable and scalable and are seeking further funding from industry. Formats being considered are

  1. Outdoor education centre based residential.
  2. Outdoor education centre based non-residential.
  3. School-based non-residential. This format could potentially be delivered by teachers.

STEM Adventure was recently recognised with an award from the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC). CLOtC is the national voice for learning outside the classroom. They believe that every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development. In November 2018 STEM Adventure won the Award for “LOtC Innovator” at a special awards dinner for ‘LOtC Heroes’ held at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley.

Next Steps. White Hall would love to talk to a potential sponsor if you feel you can offer any of the following:

  1. Sponsoring a school through a STEM Adventure programme through their Corporate Social Responsibility Budgets. The most likely scenario for this is for an employer to sponsor a school local to their premises as a way of inspiring young people to come and work for them.
  2. Supporting with the development of STEM Adventure so that it can be delivered in a wide range of contexts.
  3. Helping Find businesses willing to host the work experience element of the programme.
  4. Integrating STEM Adventure into existing STEM programmes as a way of enhancing the offer

Contact Dan Riley, Programme Leader, Business Development.