Bring Your STEM Expertise to the Classroom
Nigel Bowen is a Lead Guidance and Development Adviser with the Transition to Teach programme and works to support participants as they train to teach. He has 18 years’ experience teaching secondary STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, with 16 of these years in leadership roles. Here, Nigel discusses how STEM experience is very much in demand in the teaching profession – and how you can change careers and bring your expertise to the classroom.
I’ve been involved in STEM education since training to teach secondary physics and maths nearly 30 years ago, and teaching programming in computer science during my career.
I didn’t know when I first entered teaching just how exciting it was going to be, and that I would be running STEM extension and enrichment activities such as after-school STEM Clubs, and activities in class that would include receiving moon rock from NASA; remotely controlling a telescope in Hawaii to obtain photographs of the rings of Saturn; helping my pupils talk to astronauts on the International Space Station using amateur radio; firing model rockets which carried video cameras to film their journey; programming an intelligent ‘mouse’ to negotiate a maze; building a 2 seater aeroplane; and constructing an eco-car to travel as far as possible on 1 litre of fuel!
We have also seen how important STEM careers are to our nation during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the rapid design and fabrication of ventilators for the NHS and development of contact tracing apps. Innovation leads to new products and processes that sustain our economy. This innovation and science literacy depends on a solid knowledge base in the STEM areas.
It’s clear that most jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of maths and science. Who knew just 20 years ago that most people nowadays would have a computer in their pocket that is more powerful than the computer used for the Apollo moon landings? This is why STEM education is so important - it helps pupils become critical thinkers, increases their science literacy, and enables them to become the next generation of innovators. It also encourages them to consider STEM careers that they may not have otherwise been aware of, and increases their employability and widens their career choices, as well as supporting the UK’s future development and competitiveness.
Can you explain how to program a computer, or why the sky is blue? Do you get excited helping others with their algebra homework or showing them how to take a car apart (and put it back together again!)? Are you passionate about saving the environment, stopping global warming, developing new medicines to fight disease, designing new apps for smartphones, or creating new materials? If so, you may be in the perfect position to change career and bring your passion for STEM into the classroom.
STEM teachers are very much in demand in schools, due to the specialist skills and knowledge required to teach STEM effectively. You could bring your passion and experience from your STEM career into teaching and inspire our pupils to be the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologists; help them understand the relevance of STEM in their lives, and show them it’s not just about passing exams; and talk to them about STEM career opportunities by bringing their learning to life with real-life examples from your STEM career.
Are you interested in training to teach? Transition to Teach is a government-funded programme offering free support and advice for those who are facing redundancy and may be interested in teaching. For more information, simply express your interest at https://www.transitiontoteach.co.uk/expression-of-interest/.