STEM Person of the Week

Introducing STEM Person of the Week

Welcome to STEM Person of the Week – a STEM engagement activity that’s been shown to reduce children’s stereotypes of science and scientists by providing counter-stereotypical character attributes through a set of diverse STEM role models.

This resource aims to equip teachers with everything they need to effectively run this 5-week intervention in their school setting. The resource is simple to use and suitable for children and young people.  Primary schools have used the resource for children aged 5 – 11, and secondary schools have used the resource with young people aged 11 – 14.

In fact, we recommend that you run STEM Person of the Week with your whole school or whole year groups; this way, children, young people and teachers can share what they’re learning beyond the classroom and into their social spaces and staff room.

Here you’ll find:

  • Links to the resources which you can download and print
  • Aims, background and research
  • Guidance for teachers who want to deliver in their school

Other careers resources

We’ve more careers-linked materials for primary and secondary:

Download the resources

We currently have 15 sets of STEM Person of the Week cards which you can download and use in school.

Each set includes:

  • Printable postcards
  • Printable posters
  • PowerPoint Presentation of the resources

We’ve separated the sets of cards into ‘General sets’ which contain a mix of STEM jobs from different sectors and ‘Specialised sets’ which contain cards related to specific organisations, or which contain a slightly narrower range of types of job.

Click the images or links to download the files.

General Sets

Northumbria University (set 1)

Job roles included in this set are:
Surfaces scientist
Marine scientist

Northumbria University (set 2)

Job roles included in this set are:
Mechanical engineer
Physics PhD student
Social scientist
Technical manager

Download the postcards here.

Download the presentation here.


Job roles included in this set are:
Environmental geochemist
Environmental scientist
Urban sustainability scientist
Air quality scientist

Our Past, Your Future (Year 1)

Job roles included in this set are:
Senior validation engineer
Clinical support worker
Archaeological science advisor
Veterinary surgeon

Our Past, Your Future (Year 2)

Job roles included in this set are:
Research chemist
Collections conservator
Design engineer
Structural engineer
Behavioural scientist

Union Chain Bridge (Year 1)

Job roles included in this set are:
Marine biologist
Geotechnical engineer
Computer-aided designer
Civil engineer
Stone carver

Specialised sets

Chemistry careers (set 1)

Job roles included in this set are:
Analytical development placement student
Manufacturing lead chemist
Apprentice lab technician

A dentist in a laboratory

Download the postcards here.

Download the presentation here.

STFC (set 1)

Job roles included in this set are:
Laser scientist
Electronic engineering apprentice
Instrument scientist
Satellite engineer

STFC (set 2)

Job roles included in this set are:
Materials scientist
Software engineering apprentice
Accelerator technician
Facility scientist
Polar geologist

UKRI Particle Physics (set 1)

Job roles included in this set are:
European communications manager
Electronics technician
Senior detector scientist
Project engineer
Beam physics operations section leader

UKRI Particle Physics (set 2)

Job roles included in this set are:
Senior science technician
Particle physicist
Science communication placement student
Deputy IT service delivery manager
Healthcare lead

UKRI Particle Physics (set 3)

Job roles included in this set are:
Electronics technician
Research associate
Mechanical engineer
Software engineering apprentice
Computing liaison for CMS experiment

Union Chain Bridge (Historical set)

Job roles included in this set are:
Civil Engineer

Aims, background and research

STEM Person of the Week (SPOTW) has been created by the NUSTEM Group at Northumbria University. We’re a group of STEM Outreach practitioners and researchers who are looking to increase diversity within STEM. We do this through evidence-informed practice, working with children and their key influencers (parents and teachers) from pre-school to post-16. SPOTW was created in partnership with one of our partner primary schools, who piloted the first iteration of the resource.

We know from our own research that, when asked to describe scientists, children use a limited and very stereotypical vocabulary. In our surveys, when asked to write 6 words to describe a scientist, over 40% of the total words used were some sort of stereotype: crazy hair, explosions, lab coats, genius, etc. The SPOTW resource is designed to counter this vocabulary through a more nuanced set of attributes that scientists themselves use to describe their characteristics.

After the pilot, we went back into the primary school to see whether the children’s narrow, stereotypical view of scientists had changed. We were surprised by just how effective the intervention had been. One year after the SPOTW project, children were using significantly fewer stereotypes and significantly more positive characteristics to describe scientists. Our hope is that in the long term, this resource will help children see that the characteristics you need to be a scientist match with characteristics that they see in themselves. This increased affinity with STEM characteristics may increase their likelihood of studying STEM subjects and go into STEM careers.

Guidance for Teachers

STEM Person of the Week is a set of five carefully chosen STEM role models that reflect diversity in the skills needed in the STEM workforce and the people who work in STEM. The intervention is 5 weeks long, and each week a new STEM worker is showcased to the children in classrooms and across the school. Each STEM person has 3 characteristics that they think are important for them to do their job. In each set of cards, the children are exposed to 15 characteristics (see table), to provide a counter-stereotypical vocabulary which better reflects the realities of working in STEM.

No one person will claim to have all of these characteristics, but by introducing such a range we hope children will see that they share some of the most important skills that scientists need. You’ll also notice a very deliberate omission from the list: intelligence. One of the most common stereotypes that exist about scientists are that they have genius-like levels of intelligence. We understand that intelligence is important in science, but don’t want it to be a barrier to children who are interested but may not feel as though they are clever enough – not every one who works in STEM is an Einstein.

Each week of the project, classes across the school are given a new STEM Person. The new STEM worker is showcased in the classroom by teachers, either on the computer or using one of the posters. Teachers discuss the new STEM worker with their class, and draw attention to the week’s key attributes. These are the attributes that teachers will be looking out for in their pupils during the week. One week, the teachers might be praising Patience, Collaboration and Creativity, rather than praising attainment which is often the norm. To keep the STEM workers fresh in the children’s minds throughout the week, they could also be given postcard of the STEM person with a glossary which defines the characteristics. Children can take these around school with them, and then home at the end of the week so they can share their learning with parents and carers at home.
The 16 STEM Characteristics

Collaborative people work together with others.

If you show commitment, you stick with an activity and try your hardest to make it happen.

Communicators are good at sharing information and ideas with other people.

Creative people make new things and have original ideas.

If you are curious, you want to learn new things.

Hard-working people put all of their effort into finishing activities and projects.

If you are imaginative you can think of new and interesting ideas.

Logical people can solve problems by thinking through them in a sensible order.  They understand how one action can lead to another.

If you are observant you are quick to see things, you are able to spot fine details, and you are good at paying attention.

Open-minded people are willing to listen to new ideas and respect other people’s views and opinions.

Organised people are good at planning to make sure that they finish things.

Passionate people have strong feelings about things that interest them.

If you are patient, you are able to stay calm when faced with problems.

Resilient people can quickly recover from difficult or challenging situations.

Self-motivated people like to do things for themselves without being told how to do them.

If you are tenacious, you are able to stick with something difficult until it is finished.