On June 28th, the Cardiff SIAM-IMA Student Chapter organised the one-day ‘Full STEAM Ahead’ event, open to secondary school and FE College students, PhD students and staff.
The event consisted of three workshops aimed at inspiring students to engage in STEM subjects, and opened with a short address by Sian Ashton of the STEM Ambassador scheme. This scheme is a national endeavour to inspire young people to continue into STEM careers and anyone aged over 17 can join. Being a member of this scheme would enhance both PGR students’ experiences (by enabling them to have varied teaching practise), and school students’ experiences (by delivering exciting, cutting edge topics into their lessons) and the Cardiff SIAM-IMA Chapter will continue to work very closely with Sian and her colleagues going forward. The workshops on the day were delivered by a combination of PGR Students and industry experts, and consisted of:
Using advanced humanoid robots, Pepper and NAO, we delivered a workshop based around artificial intelligence and automation. This part was run by Carl Clement of Emotion Robotics, who provided the robots for the event. Everyone was captivated and there were plenty of amazed faces in the crowd – they really do need to be seen to be believed!
Bridgend College, in partnership with Sony UKTec provided Raspberry Pi computers and Pi cameras for the event, and with resources from the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s ‘Picademy’, we ran a simple introduction to programming hardware devices with Python.
Students had the opportunity to design and print their own 3D fidget spinners using the freely available browser-based software ‘Onshape’. There was a prize for the best design, submitted on the day and printed later by our colleagues in Engineering. Each student also received a 3D printed ‘gyro’ keyring memento of the event to take away with them.
While the workshops were delivered primarily by Mathematics PGR students, I truly believe that this was a cross-curricular multi-disciplinary event, and embraced the heart of the ‘Applications of Mathematics’. I believe it is fundamentally important to appreciate the wider applications of our subject, and I feel that we definitely succeeded in our goal to inspire a future generation of STEM practitioners. The feedback collected on the day was extremely positive, and building on this event, we look to expand in future years and develop the links with our partner institutions further.
We are extremely grateful to the IMA for providing us with an Education Grant to help this day succeed, and to the Cardiff University Widening Access Fund for covering the cost of lunch. I personally would like to thank my fellow members of the SIAM-IMA Student Chapter committee; Alex Mackay, Danny Groves and Alex Safar, as well as Luke Smallman for delivering a first-class workshop on physical computing with Raspberry Pi. Huge thanks to our friends and partners in Bridgend College and Emotion Robotics, without whom, the event would not have been possible, and also to Debbie Syrop of Cardiff’s Engineering department for all her advice on room bookings, lunch and event management.