Young people in Scotland will have the opportunity to become Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths mentors as part of a new programme to help inspire their younger counterparts to study STEM.
SNP Government Science Minister Richard Lochhead MSP announced a £500,000 fund to deliver the programme – a key commitment in the Scottish STEM Strategy - at the Scottish Learning Festival.
A new Young STEM Leaders Programme, which will be run by the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC) in partnership with science centres, the science festivals and youth organisations, will help young role models develop their mentoring skills and STEM knowledge.
Young mentors will receive training, as well as access to STEM experts for learning and support during their time as a mentor. The programme will also create accreditation routes for the young people involved, to recognise their development.
Mr Lochhead said:
“Inspiring young people to take up Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects and careers is vitally important if we are to bring about changes in attitudes, culture and perceptions of STEM.
“Young people themselves are the best STEM role models, so strengthening mentoring in STEM by children and young people makes sense. We want to capitalise on and learn from the range of mentoring and support programmes already operating in the education system, so we can broaden their reach, help develop leadership and nurture STEM skills.
“Our ambition is that, by 2022, schools across the country will be participating in this programme.”
Alastair MacGregor, Chief Executive Officer of SSERC said:
“Equity of access to the programme by all school-aged learners, in both education and community settings, will be a key consideration for the partnership with the specific aim of inspiring more young people to develop an interest in STEM and purse the study of STEM subjects and thereafter relevant future careers.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
"The development of the programme will begin next month, with an initial consultation and piloting phase before opportunities become available for young people to get involved later this academic year.
“It is my hope that North Ayrshire schools will be part of the piloting phase and I have written to both Richard Lochhead MSP and Alastair MacGregor to request that young people in North Ayrshire stand to benefit from this project at the earliest stage.”