Passmores and Stewards get vital science experience in the lab

STEWARDS AND Passmores students are being offered the opportunity to gain first-hand experience working in a laboratory testing chemicals in just one of the education and industry projects set up to help encourage young people to consider careers in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sectors.

Essex County Council is teaming up with local businesses to help address the local shortage of STEM skills as part of a wider government drive to increase the number of young people embarking on STEM subjects and careers post 16.

Global research and development company, Battelle UK, based in Springfield, Chelmsford, is one business delivering an industry-led project to help promote STEM education in two local secondary schools.

The company which studies the levels and effects of pesticides, pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals in the environment and food to help ensure food safety, has already been able to offer ten students from Chelmer Valley High School first-hand experience working in a laboratory.

Throughout this school term students have been visiting Battelle one afternoon after school each week and taking part in a series of chemistry-based activities and experiments providing them with the opportunity to enhance their classroom-based learning. Thanks to the level of commitment from staff at Battelle, students from Great Baddow High School will have the same opportunity next term.

At least 100 STEM professionals from Essex businesses are working in partnership with the County Council to inspire students to consider careers in STEM sectors.

Essex County Councillor Ray Gooding, Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “These STEM mentoring projects are a fantastic opportunity for young people to broaden their options when thinking about what career path they would like to take. As an Engineer myself I am passionate that technically-based careers offer people an interesting and rewarding working life. We are extremely grateful to Battelle and all the companies working with us to help promote STEM careers in this way and hope many young people will benefit from the opportunity on offer.”

The Essex mentoring projects which launched in 2011, following demand from the local engineering and manufacturing industry, initially targeted Beauchamps High School, James Hornsby School, Woodlands School, and Harwich and Dovercourt High School. The latest schools to benefit from the projects are Chelmer Valley High School, Great Baddow High School, The Billericay School, Manningtree High School, Plume School and Ormiston Rivers Academy.

Essex County Council is also supporting a smaller-scale project targeted at girls, funded by Harlow-based company Applied Scintillation Technologies, working with Passmores Academy and Stewards Academy.

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