Teaching Time research suggests that universities and businesses are united in the belief that the STEM skills gap can be reduced by greater collaboration between academia and industry. We agree.
Through meaningful community outreach programmes, major infrastructure projects can not only help to excite children about STEM subjects, but also embed themselves into the heart of the community, providing a unique opportunity to invest in the future generations in an area in which the project will operate for many years to come.
STEAM: Putting the ‘A’ in STEM
Increasingly, the industry uses an ‘A’ to include the arts. As well as the increasing recognition of the role of effective communications in infrastructure delivery – an arts-based skillset responsible for a project’s messaging, prose and aesthetics – it’s also a nod to the necessity for innovative thinking and creative problem solving in disciplines across the industry, from architecture, to design, to engineering.
STEAM: The Copper approach
Copper has developed meaningful STEAM outreaching programmes for clients, offering support to ensure that well-intentioned ideas manifest as considered, effective activities for the students – and result in significant reputational value for clients. Our approach comprises five vital strands:
1. Preparation and research: Before launching STEAM programmes, Copper undertakes comprehensive and collaborative research with its partners on relevant stakeholders (such as schools and youth groups) to understand types of activities that would be suitable for each age range. We focus on exciting, interactive sessions relevant to our client’s scheme, to attach meaning to the exercise that children can chart as the project develops.
2. Staff upskilling and development: Working closely with the STEM ambassador hub, we create teams of volunteers to become STEM ambassadors, facilitating and leading training and briefings on activities that have been specially designed to complement our client’s work. Familiarising themselves with the content of activities helps build the team’s confidence in delivering this training, while a team-orientated approach encourages peer-to-peer support throughout the process. We also provide support to ensure that all of the necessary DBS checks have been carried out for project team members to go into schools
3. Dedicated staff: Delivering meaningful STEAM activity takes both commitment and expertise. To ensure our client’s offer is a tailored, intelligent and committed STEAM campaign, each of our offices also has at least one qualified STEM ambassador. Our STEM ambassadors are:
4. Flexibility and intelligent coordination: This is a crucial aspect of delivery, to ensure that schools feel a project is happening with and for them – not to them. We give careful consideration to ensure STEAM sessions are tailored to a school’s curriculum, while ensuring the activity is linked to our client’s scheme. We know that every scheme – and every community – is different. Key to delivering effective and memorable experiences is the combination of research, communication, and the ability to listen – and learn – as we go.
5. Effective promotion and strategic rollout: Key to delivering STEAM projects is in the reputational value it can generate both for individual projects, and for a client’s overarching brand. Alongside the provision of training and collaboration with the project team to deliver meaningful STEAM activity, Copper’s media and creative expertise is a crucial factor in terms of rolling out, promoting, and establishing our client’s reputation as a leader in their field.