The 2018–19 academic year saw the continuation of an exciting and successful Cambridge LaunchPad programme. Since taking over management of the programme in spring 2017, Form the Future have been busy partnering school students from across Cambridgeshire with leading employers to inspire, educate and enthuse young people about STEM.
Over the year, 21 STEM industry partners delivered 35 Project Days, reaching over 6,370 students between the ages of 8 and 18, an increase of over 6000 students from 2016. With 95% of students saying they would recommend the programme to others and 81% of students learning something new during a project Day. In addition to celebrating the success of 2018-19, we have also been looking ahead to the next academic year and continuing our work with a wide variety of STEM industries. We are thrilled to welcome onboard for the 2019-20 programme three new Supporters, Abcam, Huxley Bertram and Ninja Theory, and Associate partner, Hill, who will be hosting their first Project Day in the upcoming year.
During these Project Days, the students are encouraged to develop and improve on the Cambridge LaunchPad core skills. These are qualities that they will use throughout their everyday lives, such as communication, teamwork, problem solving and innovation. The students that display these attributes or show significant improvement throughout the day are chosen to attend our annual award ceremonies to celebrate their personal development.
Teachers are always enthusiastic about the opportunities that Cambridge LaunchPad gives their students outside of the classroom. Stuart Jessup, Computer Science & Physics Teacher at Hills Road Sixth Form College said:
“It has been amazing to watch the students at work and I was particularly impressed by the creativity and teamwork that stemmed from working on a real problem. The day provided the students with experience of STEM in the real world, but I was also struck by the relief it seemed to give them from the more curriculum driven, exam focussed approach that their A Level studies entail. It was clear that they enjoyed the day and that it encouraged them to model ways of thinking that will be important to them in their future careers.”
The Stars awards ceremony for Year 4-6 students was held at The Babraham Institute, where the winners, parents, teachers and industry partners celebrated their success. The proceedings were kicked off by Michael Hinton, Web and Outreach Officer at the Babraham Institute, who shared his enthusiasm for STEM and how the work at the Babraham Institute helps people live longer and healthier lives. The winning students were then presented with their certificates and goodie bags and invited to enjoy a picnic and fun hands-on activities.
As the Cambridge LaunchPad programme rewards through experiences, rather than monetary prizes, the Stars winners were invited to attend an educational prize trip to the London Science Museum, where they got the chance to take part in two activities: exploration of the ‘WonderLab’ an exhibition of over 50 hands-on immersive experiences to ignite curiosity in STEM and a ‘Feel the Force’ interactive show where students watched live demonstrations of how forces are used all around them.
New Supporter, The Bradfield Centre, hosted our Innovators and Scholars awards ceremony for Year 7-12 students, who were joined by industry partners who awarded them with their certificates and goodie bags. After the prizegiving, the students, parents and teachers had the opportunity to meet many of our industry partners in a careers carousel. In addition to learning more about what each company does, the students were able to learn about the diverse range of careers available to them within STEM subjects and the different pathways they can take to get there. 64% of Year 7-12 students said that they now have a better understanding of the skills and qualifications needed for a career in STEM with 53% of Sixth Form students now more likely to choose an apprenticeship or degree in STEM after participating in Cambridge LaunchPad!
Whilst students thoroughly enjoy their experience, Cambridge LaunchPad also gives ambassadors from our industry partners the chance to explore their roles and skills from a different perspective. Ioanna Kalvari, Software Developer at EMBL-EBI, said:
“I often get the feeling that us scientists tend to take our jobs very seriously and forget how fun science can be. I truly enjoyed becoming a kid again and viewing my daily work from different angles.”
The Innovators winners were invited to Alton Towers for their prize trip, where KS3 and 4 students took part in a workshop on how to build a rollercoaster, taking some of the concepts that they learn in the classroom and applying them to a real-world setting. This year’s Scholars winners have the exciting opportunity for an additional visit with the industry partner that they engaged with during their project day. They will get the chance to experience a day of ‘behind-the-scenes’ work shadowing covering everything from exciting STEM projects to coffee breaks!
Year 10 students from Netherhall School, said:
“This has been an experience that I will never forget and can help me with my decision for my future. I have had a lot of fun because I did something new, learnt a lot and of the volunteers were really helpful and nice.”
Molly Askham, STEM Outreach Project Manager from Cambridge LaunchPad, said:
“The 2018-19 programme has been a huge success, welcoming onboard several new industry partners to join our exciting initiative and continuing to grow for the new academic year. It has been great to celebrate the achievements of all our students and see how enthusiastic they are to take in part Cambridge LaunchPad again in years to come. It’s clear to see that the interactions that these young people are having with our industry partners are making a positive difference to how they view and interact with STEM.”
We would love to continue to inspire the next generation of STEM professionals by bringing on new schools and STEM organisations, so that we can expand our programme to include other areas of STEM and reach as many young people in the Greater Cambridge region as possible. If you would like to join our innovative movement, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org