STEM Ambassadors induction: bringing polymers into the classroom

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In partnership with the British Plastics Federation (BPF), the STEM Ambassadors programme recently organised a central induction for Polymer Ambassadors at the National STEM Learning Centre in York and at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

The 26 delegates who attended came from across England and Wales and were all from the polymers industry – technicians, engineers, distributors, some retired, and all united in their aspiration to inspire young people in STEM subjects.

A fundamental concern shared by the delegates who attended was the decrease in young people joining them in the polymers industry and filling the roles of the future.

Based on a survey by the British Plastics Federation (BPF), 46% of the plastics industry (based on BPF members) find trouble in recruiting new staff – and 1/5 of these difficult-to-recruit-for roles are apprenticeships.

But the plastics industry – far from simply producing plastic bottles and toys – is responsible for hospital equipment, light-weight aircraft and automobile components, critical construction materials, and electronics casing.

Without this industry these services simply just do not exist.  If young people do not continue to populate this industry in this country, then other countries will provide these services.

Another paramount concern for the industry is that technical skills are becoming few and far between.

As such, in addition to their induction as STEM Ambassadors, the delegates were provided with “Olly’s Cool Box of Plastics” – a small blue toolkit of experiments provided by PlasticsEurope.

The kit is designed for children between the ages of six and ten and contains teacher notes and several fun experiments that deliver an introduction to plastics and its many wonderful properties.

The new aptly named ‘Polymer Ambassadors’ learnt how to deliver the experiments in primary schools, which included experimenting with polystyrene cups that can protect an egg falling from twenty feet!

If you are interested in reading more about the induction at the National STEM Learning Centre and the polymer industry, you can find out more on BPF’s website.

The STEM Ambassadors programme is always looking to expand its expertise in STEM industry or research, so if you want more information on how you can get involved have a look at our case studies.