We are a finalist in the Tech South West award for ‘Best Education Initiative Award’

In June of this year CSW Group (SW Peninsula STEM Ambassador Hub) along with Graphic Science (WE STEM Ambassador hub) put together a 3 week long online educational festival called South West STEM Fest.  

South West STEM Fest came about as a result of research into options for virtual STEM events during the pandemic and conversations with our neighbouring Ambassador Hub, West England Hub. We were facing a second year without a Big Bang Fair and we wanted to create an alternative. 

The programme was created to be a celebration of STEM across the southwest, a chance for all our STEM partners with a base in the southwest of England to join us in celebrating the contribution STEM has made and continues to make to the people and the places in the region. We wanted to highlight our world-class STEM heritage and exciting future opportunities, and that this is a message that can offer hope to all 640,000 young people in education in the region. We wanted to engage with young people, providing reassurance that despite two disrupted schools years, their skills, interests, and experience are valued, and there will always be opportunities for them in STEM, right here on their doorstep. We also wanted to celebrate the diversity of STEM careers in the region – it’s not all aeroplanes and bridges, it’s agriculture and mining, robotics and cyber, creative digital and film, public health, environment, energy… from the bottom of the oceans to the far reaches of outer space, it’s all right here. 

We invited STEM Ambassadors to deliver sessions along with strategic regional employers who had previously engaged with Big Bang or supported the STEM Hubs. The plan was to have a final showcase/ celebration week with live sessions and the two weeks leading up to that with mostly pre-recorded content. Over time the content grew, as we had such a great response from people, and the entire three-week programme ended up being a mix of live and pre-recorded sessions with additional resources created for teachers to use at a time that suited them.  

There were over 59 live sessions, that ranged from coding workshop for students and teachers, primary and secondary maths workshops, Cyber challenges, subject talks and careers sessions and resources. 5,524 participants ranging from age 5 – 19 including primary, secondary, FE and home educated families. 52 schools in total participated which breaks down as: 36 primary schools, 14 secondary schools (including 1 PRU) and 2 FE Colleges (including 1 specialist college). The festival included 3 evening panel discussion for students and parents focusing on Apprenticeships in STEM, Tech and Cyber Careers and Women in Tech. 

After completing an entry for the Tech South West Award, we are excited and delighted that we have been shortlisted for Best Education Initiative Award’. The annual Tech South West Awards recognise and celebrate the sector’s incredible innovation, talent, creativity, entrepreneurship, business success, education, leadership and diversity. Covering the whole of the South West from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset to Bristol, Bath, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, the awards shine a spotlight on the fastest growing part of the region’s economy – tech. With over 200 entries for this year’s award both the SW and the WE Hub are extremely proud to find out we were amongst the finalists. The winners will be revealed at the award ceremony in November. We’ll keep our fingers crossed!