What is the Value of STEM?
By Daria Gal, Year 8
STEM is one of the domains our modern world depends on. There is an abundant and growing amount of STEM jobs, therefore with the proficiency in STEM subjects, one should be able to find a well paid job which has a large impact on our lives. Our economy and our general well being in many cases is backed by science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A bright example of this was the GDSTEM conference, which brought together 300 Year 8 girls from GDST schools from all all over the country and held at Imperial College on September 24th. We saw how people in the world use STEM to explore opportunities and make discoveries, such as self-healing materials, rehabilitation techniques and even cures for ebola. STEM provides a valuable skill set, which allows one to thrive in any industry.
STEM is more than just a lab coat, STEM brings confidence when going into the unknown. Problem-solving is a large part of STEM, this can branch out from the building of a bridge over very turbulent waters to finding a cure for cancer – diving into the unknown. In the GDSTEM, one of the talks was about bioengineering, in particular about “the hand”. We found that 2.7million people in the UK do not have “normal” hands. This means that they find it difficult to complete everyday activities as they have impaired motor skills. Their lives are greatly affected and without STEM, (in particular bioengineering), these people would not be able to pick up a spoon. However, with the new advances in technology and engineering, people can have replacements, so that they can move and take control of their day-to-day life. Of course STEM may not be enough in some cases as people’s will should also be present. For example, when there has been a replacement, the person should perform special exercises to complete the rehabilitation course. Rehabilitation is deemed to be a tedious exercise and is sometimes forgotten and discarded, despite it being detrimental to the recovery. Encouragement can be introduced in different, during the conference, we were shown this example – a 2nd year student created a game in order to encourage the process of rehabilitation and make it more interactive. This is an example which shows that age does not matter, since by the age of 19, you could have made a large impact on the world, just by studying STEM.
The series of talks in the Department of Materials covered smart fabrics, ferrofluid, butterflies, superlight materials, self healing materials, shape changing materials, sensing materials and chocolate. Smart fabrics can find use in sport and health care, to name a few, as they can sense your temperature to make you warmer or cooler, as well as being able to keep you dry. It is fascinating that sometimes by exploring nature, we can find inspiration which could benefit humanity. It was interesting to see how the structure of butterflies’ wings makes them waterproof and how it can be mimicked in manufacturing, in order to produce more waterproof wear. Another life changing discovery, which was demonstrated during the conference, is “self healing” materials. This could then be used to aid the healing of bones or perhaps other parts of the body, since it has a capability to heal quickly.
With the knowledge of STEM, you could end up anywhere, such as eating (and analysing) Mars bars (as a job) or flying into space. By getting involved in STEM or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics), you could find your life-long passion.