Engaging primary school children in STEM: Sai Pathmanathan

Engaging primary school children in STEM: Sai Pathmanathan

Engaging primary school children in STEM: Sai Pathmanathan

Introduction

The national demand for workers who have studied STEM subjects is increasing. In 2017 the Royal Academy of Engineering reported that 90% of businesses based on engineering, science and technology believe they will need to recruit more people with higher skills in the next 3-5 years, yet supply is unable to keep up with demand. In addition, less than 10% of the UK’s engineering workforce are women and only 6% are from minoritised racial groups.

“The Fellowship has helped tremendously because it allowed me the freedom to learn more about the tools I could use." - Sai Pathmanathan, Fellow

Science education consultant Sai Pathmanathan (CF 2016) has been using storytelling and hands-on workshop activities to promote STEM subjects to children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their families. Sai’s Fellowship showed her the importance of sustained engagement and inclusive spaces in reaching these communities, and that high-tech resources were not required for successful initiatives. Aiming to raise aspirations in science, Sai applied this learning to her work in the UK, where she has been running several outreach projects in Tower Hamlets, one of London’s most deprived boroughs. As a result, she has received many recommendations from parents and has been approached by schools and educational organisations to consult on diversity issues in public science engagement.

Sai has also encouraged children to engage with wider science-related issues, including caring for the environment and eating a healthy diet. Her Plastic = Not Fantastic initiative helped Sai to raise awareness among young people of the impact of plastic waste in oceans, and this resource has been shared widely with teachers. Additionally, Sai helped Streatham Common Community Garden win £5,000 in funding from Higgidy to work with schoolchildren to create a dedicated vegetable patch for the local community.

Sai’s learnings have recently been published in a book, Utterly Jarvellous, as a resource for families and teachers to engage children in environmentally friendly science activities.

Her Fellowship to the USA explored family science engagement and learning through storytelling and children’s media.

Sai says, “The Fellowship has helped tremendously because it allowed me the freedom to learn more about the tools I could use, and run small pilots especially for families, as we can only encourage young people by influencing the influencers.”

“The Fellowship has helped tremendously because it allowed me the freedom to learn more about the tools I could use." - Sai Pathmanathan, Fellow

Science education consultant Sai Pathmanathan (CF 2016) has been using storytelling and hands-on workshop activities to promote STEM subjects to children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their families. Sai’s Fellowship showed her the importance of sustained engagement and inclusive spaces in reaching these communities, and that high-tech resources were not required for successful initiatives. Aiming to raise aspirations in science, Sai applied this learning to her work in the UK, where she has been running several outreach projects in Tower Hamlets, one of London’s most deprived boroughs. As a result, she has received many recommendations from parents and has been approached by schools and educational organisations to consult on diversity issues in public science engagement.

Sai has also encouraged children to engage with wider science-related issues, including caring for the environment and eating a healthy diet. Her Plastic = Not Fantastic initiative helped Sai to raise awareness among young people of the impact of plastic waste in oceans, and this resource has been shared widely with teachers. Additionally, Sai helped Streatham Common Community Garden win £5,000 in funding from Higgidy to work with schoolchildren to create a dedicated vegetable patch for the local community.

Sai’s learnings have recently been published in a book, Utterly Jarvellous, as a resource for families and teachers to engage children in environmentally friendly science activities.

Her Fellowship to the USA explored family science engagement and learning through storytelling and children’s media.

Sai says, “The Fellowship has helped tremendously because it allowed me the freedom to learn more about the tools I could use, and run small pilots especially for families, as we can only encourage young people by influencing the influencers.”