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Flying High with STEM

STEM Ambassadors


Year 9 and 10 Varndean School students who are interested in a future career in STEM were given the chance to learn a bit more about the paths they could follow to achieve their goals. Today they were visited by STEM ambassadors; people who are already working in jobs of this type. Over the course of the day they met a Discovery PhD student, a systems engineer, a game developer and IT support for a company who create flight simulators.

Equipment brought in by the STEM ambassadorsThis afternoon’s students listened to a talk by Mark Gossage, a game developer, about the pathway he took to get into his profession.  He encouraged and inspired any students with a passion for game development, not to wait for the future but to start using that passion now, by beginning to make simple games and to use the skills and knowledge that they already have. Not only to go to their prospective future employer with a certificate for a degree, but challenged them to be able to show that they have a real passion and love for what they do. The students are already familiar with Python, a computer programming language which they can use to begin creating simple games.

Making drug modelsHe told them about the steps he took, the degrees he studied for and the path he took to get there. The students were very interested in hearing about how long it takes and how many people are required to create a game, learning that it takes a lot of time, effort and hard work. For some of the most popular games on the market, it can take anything from just one person to create a game, to a team of a thousand people working for five years.

Then Robert Mitchell, who is responsible for looking after the IT infrastructure at THALES spoke to them about his career working in IT, supporting the creation of flight simulators. He again told them of the path he took into the profession. Showing the students some very impressive, expensive hardware and speaking to them about his role and what his company do.

Using the helicopter simulatorStudents then had a chance to have a go using a flight simulator for themselves. They enjoyed taking turns at flying, one student asking if they “could do spins” a bit adventurous perhaps as most of them found it a challenge just to keep it in the air! Speaking to students afterwards they said that it was very hard to control, but a lot of fun to try!

It was brilliant to see so many students from Years 7, 9 and 10 engage with the STEM ambassadors' talks and activities showing different careers from fuel cell development to drug discovery and computer game development. There was something for everyone!

Ms Wilson, Science Lead Professional