STEM Person of the Week

To print your own STEM Person of the Week resources, click the button on the right. You’ll be taken to a Dropbox folder, inside which are posters and postcards for print and screen, and a guidance presentation: everything you need to run the intervention in your school.

If you’d like NUSTEM to print the postcards and posters, then post them to you, click this link to enter the Northumbria Web Store.

For further details, read the information below.

Other careers resources

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

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 in years 1 through 6. In fact, we recommend that you run STEM Person of the Week with your whole school; this way, children and teachers can share what they’re learning beyond the classroom and into the playground and staff room.

Here you’ll find:

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

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 total the children are exposed to 15 characteristics (see right), which provide a counter-stereotypical vocabulary which better reflects the realities of working in STEM.

No one child 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 also are 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 15 STEM Characteristics
ObservantOpen-mindedCommitted
CreativeImaginativePatient
ResilientCommunicatorPassionate
CuriousSelf-motivatedHard-working
TenaciousCollaborativeOrganised

Resources

If you would like more information about these resources, including links to free downloads and how to purchase printed resources please complete the form below.