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Empowering young people through STEM Education

Following 2018's Year of Engineering campaign, 2019's Day of the Girl and Tomorrow's Engineers Week, people everywhere are joining forces to inspire all young people, particularly ensuring that gender is not a barrier to STEM career opportunities. Here at Hopscotch, we are proud to say that we champion this ethos daily through our trail-blazing education campaigns.

As a leading education consultancy for behaviour change programmes, we design our campaigns to be as inclusive as possible. Nowhere is this more important than in our STEM programmes, where we consistently work to tackle the disparity between the number of male and female students who choose to study STEM subjects and pursue careers within these industries.

Historically, male students have outnumbered female students taking STEM subjects at A-level, suggesting that the participation gap begins at secondary school. However, this year saw girls overtake boys in A-level science entries for the first time, which scientists hailed widely as a “cause for celebration”.*

School leaders suggested that an increase in female role models in the subjects may be contributing to the trend, proving the importance of providing real-life STEM programmes aimed to inspire and engage.

Below are just a couple of examples of our work in this field:

The Bright Ideas Challenge, Shell

Shell came to us wanting to create a programme that would help re-invigorate students’ interest in STEM subjects, with a real focus on girls’ participation, to help ensure that fewer removed themselves from the STEM talent pool.

This led to the creation of The Bright Ideas Challenge (TBIC), a schools’ competition designed to spark young people’s curiosity in science and engineering and convince them of the positive role they can play in making a difference to the wider world. 

The competition helps teachers demonstrate the real-world value of what they teach in the classroom with the support of curriculum-linked classroom resources and videos, and invites secondary students aged 11-14 to put their creativity, problem solving and STEM skills to the test by devising innovative solutions to the energy challenges faced by cities of the future.

We take a cross-curricular approach that focuses on skills development to appeal to girls who may typically not self-identify as interested in science. We also use diverse role models across programme marketing, such as Letitia Wright, and have recruited Rachel Riley as one of the programme’s STEM education ambassadors; Riley is determined to re-establish the norm for STEM jobs, changing perceptions of mathematicians and scientists.

Outcomes:

  • 13,000 students entered the competition with over 8,000 education resources downloaded
  • 98% of teachers would recommend the resources to colleagues, with the same portion of students enjoying taking part
  • 60% of the 2018 winners were all-female teams
  • 53% of the total entrants to the competition in 2018 were female
Digital Creators’ Challenge, Vodafone

We launched the Digital Creators’ Challenge in September 2019 in partnership with Apps for Good and Teach First. It is a nationwide competition which challenges students aged 11-14 to build an app to improve lives in their community, whilst learning about careers of the future with Vodafone employees.

A key programme aim is to drive engagement with girls – our target is at least 50% of entries from female students. We employ a range of tactics to normalise female participation in the competitions, from imagery to use of influencers and role models to engage girls, such as Maria Raga CEO of Depop, our celebrity judge. As the programme is new, watch this space to see the outcome!

If you would like to find out more about how your organisation could work to engage and inspire more young girls in STEM, we'd love to hear from you. Get in touch with us here.

 

 

* Source: The Guardian, Aug 2019 

About the author

Becky Hipkiss

Becky recently joined Hopscotch as a Senior Consultant, and works across a range of clients including GSK, Department for Education and Vodafone. She comes with extensive experience in digital and marketing education-focused campaigns having previously worked on a number of high profile youth programmes, covering STEM, citizenship and health and wellbeing, including with the British Olympic and Paralympic Association. Most recently, Becky worked at It’s a Monthly Thing as Head of Education and Brand Manager for their teen period products.

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