TechFest launches STEM Next to strengthen secondary pupil’s industry knowledge

TechFest has launched a brand-new research competition, STEM Next, to bolster its mission in bridging the skills gap between school and both higher education and industry.

Having identified a gap in industry knowledge across STEM and non-STEM sectors, TechFest has introduced five categories: energy transition, applications of mathematics, medicine and life sciences, technology and computer sciences and food, drink and agriculture. Within each category is a diverse range of potential essay topics, designed to pique interest for any student’s career ambitions.

To assist with the project, TechFest is looking to partner with a number of organisations to sponsor categories and provide industry professionals as mentors, offering pupils the chance to receive first-hand advice from experts with years of experience in each of the subjects. 

Registration is now open for the competition which is available to all S5 and S6 pupils from schools across Scotland. STEM Next will launch on Wednesday June 2, 2021 with entrants having until September 1, 2021 to submit their essays.

Dr Martha Gavan, education manager at TechFest said: “STEM Next is a really exciting project which has come about following feedback from both students and teachers, who were longing for more industry experience to bolster their UCAS applications and prepare them for the world of work.

“We piloted this format last year as a way of digitally adapting our annual STEM in the Pipeline competition to adhere to government guidelines during the pandemic and were blown away with the standard of work submitted by pupils.”

Working independently, pupils must carry out in depth research before submitting an essay for only one category, and participants are urged to get feedback from peers and teachers before the final submission.

Encouraged to submit an entry reflective of the individual, there is no rigid structure or format to the essay, however good submissions will present clear arguments, a detailed reference list of sources, include illustrations and where possible, provide some specific examples or cases.

In addition, at least one external industry professional must be interviewed as part of the research for the essay.

Dr Martha Gavan added: “These projects really offer students the chance to explore their interests and bring new ideas to the table. Now that we’ve expanded the pilot project into its own entity and widened the subject matter, we can’t wait to see the standard of work that comes through.

“It’s always inspiring to see what students come up with when they are passionate about a subject, and we feel the variety of topics available offers something for everyone.”

The deadline to register interest is June 2 2021. Students can register their own interest and teachers can register on behalf of pupils too. On registration, individuals will receive a starting pack with information to help them with their competition entry.

To register interest in entering the competition or to register your organisations interest in sponsoring a category, please visit https://www.techfestsetpoint.org.uk/education/ages-over-11/stem-next-essay. 

Submissions will be assessed by an esteemed panel of judges, and Amazon gift vouchers are up for grabs for first, second and third place with the winner being announced on September 30 2021.

Alongside a year-round programme of STEM education events, TechFest runs Aberdeen and North-east Scotland’s annual festival of STEM. In 2020 the event went digital for the first time in 27 years, reaching audiences on a global scale. 

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