STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine) is everywhere. Integral to our everyday lives, the WEA is working with a number of partners to bring STEMM education to a generation of new students. This will see the WEA returning to one of the areas of study of its founder, Albert Mansbridge, who completed a university extension course from King College London, "The Chemistry of Everyday Life" on leaving school aged 14.
The WEA has received funding from the Wellcome Trust, and with support from our partners at the University of Liverpool, we will bring biomedicine to new students through flash lectures, courses, events, experiments, workshops and community discussion programmes.
Biomedicine has an ever increasing impact upon our lives: insecticides, genetics, nano-technology and pollution for example; yet, popular understanding is often limited. Building on the unique access of the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) to hardly reached communities, the project starts in the North-West and progress to all English regions, provide 76 courses for over 760 students, from introductory access to level 3.
With a WEA tutors and students network as grassroots “experts”, gives a model for STEMM awareness-raising generally. Links with educational and industry organisations will help us grow and develop biomedical tutors: we will explore our partnerships not only with community organisations, but also strategic partners through LEPs, and business and industry partners through our membership of the Chamber of Commerce.
Our aims include:
- Engaging disadvantaged students
- Providing biomedical critical thinking skills
- Achieving socially purposeful outcomes for biomedical students
- Disseminating the approach to secondary audiences including: Adult Community Learning providers, Specially Designated Institutes, HE widening participation teams, Learned Societies, STEM Ambassadors, Research ED, and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Adult Education.
- People taking part in biomedical engagement activities
- People progressing into employment, activism, volunteering, voting, governance, and more.
WEA has received funding from the Royal Astronomical Society for a five year project to deliver Open Your Eyes, Look up to the Sky…! This:
- Challenges and change approaches to science using people’s innate interest in astronomy to make science attractive and relevant to everyone.
- Engages with hard-to-reach groups through the Workers’ Educational Association’s partnership with Liverpool John Moores University’s Astrophysics Research and the WEA’s extensive national network of grassroots partner organisations.
- Provides a dynamic legacy of an astronomical and geophysics-based STEMM curriculum for adults, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic background; from entry level up to degree level and beyond.
- Starting in the North West and rolling out nationally, the project will engage thousands each year.
- Above all it will be fun, funky and fascinating.
WEA also has received funding from the Royal Society of Chemistry to deliver Any Old Ions. This:
- Engages more people in the study and appreciation of chemistry and related branches of science.
- Sees the development of a relevant and appropriate chemistry curriculum to particularly enable and encourage the often excluded community members to study Chemistry and other related STEMM subjects in the community providing a legacy beyond the lifetime of “Any Old Ions”.
- Helps progress learners towards further and higher chemistry and other related STEMM education and participation in community and society based research activity.
- Presents a chemistry curriculum and other related STEMM curricula with a perspective from the WEA’s vision of “A better world - equal, democratic and just; through adult education the WEA challenges and inspires individuals, communities and society”.
- Supports volunteering and enabling participation in scientific debate and research.
- Will be effectively evaluated and disseminated to provide a strong evidence base for adult and community learning providers to adopt the approach.
- Provides chemistry educational opportunities that develop not only critical thinking but social purpose, with learners as volunteers progressing into education beyond and activism in chemistry for the benefit of their communities:
- Offers greater understanding of chemistry in the everyday world, including:
- Climate Change
We have also received funding from the Institute of Physics, to help support our STEMM projects, providing necessary equipment for courses and experiments.