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Steps into STEM Project

Steps into STEM participantsAt The Open University in Wales, we want to inspire more people to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). The ‘Steps into STEM’ project was developed by us to create a series of family learning workshops to introduce adults to learning opportunities and inspire children to take up STEM subjects in their future studies

The Open University in Wales project was part of a broader HEFCW initiative, funded through the South West Reaching Wider partnership, and run in partnership with The Glynneath Training Centre and Western Valleys Communities First to increase participation in the STEM subjects

The 'Steps into STEM' programme was delivered in partnership with two primary schools in the Neath Port Talbot area between 2014 to 2015. The project aims were to: 

  • Raise awareness and engagement with STEM learning
  • Improve access to STEM subjects for adults
  • Encourage young people to consider STEM subjects and career pathways
  • Develop key skills of participants
  • Provide bespoke information, advice and guidance on STEM subjects
  • Give pupils practical experiences and skills for further study
  • Improve partnerships and group working between the OU and organisations in the Neath Port Talbot area  

For the project, four workshops were developed to raise awareness and increase participation in STEM subjects. The workshops which ran for both parents and children from schools in the Neath Port Talbot area were: 

Who done it? – Investigating the unseen

This workshop involved interactive sessions themed around a CSI-type crime scene. It looked at chromatography and perception by using coloured dyes to test fibres and paint samples. Participants then developed witness statements and produced e-fits to try to identify the criminal.

What is it? – Investigating nature around us

Participants explored their local environment, looking at plants, insects and wildlife. Using iSpot, the OU’s online resource to identify wildlife, pupils and parents investigated their surroundings, gathered samples, performed experiments and identified the plants, insects and birds in their back gardens.   

The Rock Detectives – Footprints in time

This workshop enabled participants to develop an appreciation of how scientists use evidence from rocks and fossils to piece together the 4.6 billion year history of our planet and the development of life on it. The session taught some of the basics of earth science by using mineral, rock, and fossil samples alongside other resources.

Water, water, everywhere – Analysing our environment

Water is the vital ingredient for life and yet many of us take it for granted. This workshop enabled participants to discover more about water; what it is, what it does and why? Participants undertook experiments, investigations and had lots of fun exploring this vital ingredient.


Watch the 'Steps into STEM' project video

As part of 'Steps into STEM', a short video was produced to showcase the work which went into the project.

The video gives a brief snapshot into the family learning workshops which were developed for the project, including contributions from some of those who ran the workshops.

The video also features those who took part in the workshops, namely parents and pupils from Cwmnedd and Godre’rgraig primary schools.

A transcript of the 'Steps into STEM' project video is also available.