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Students become secret agents at science event

17 September 2015

STEM Live event - METS logo

Over 200 high-school children have taken up the role of undercover agents as part of a Marvel-themed outreach event at the University.

To promote the wide-range of career opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (known as the STEM subjects), the students became trainee candidates for the Ministry of Enlightened Theory and Skills (M.E.T.S) and took part in a number of captivating, hands-on activities in areas such as chemistry, physics and engineering.

The narrative of the day was a M.E.T.S. recruitment drive to find out where the candidates’ specialities lie and to prepare them for a future in the fictitious secret organisation. The event, entitled STEM Live!, was organised by the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering in conjunction with YellowBrick – a marketing agency who specialise in immersive and engaging experiences – and UCAN Productions, a performance and arts cooperative for blind and partially sighted young people.

Throughout the day the Year 8 and 9 students took part in a number of practical activities, such as building boats with sustainable materials, deciphering a secret code using cryptography and exploring the environment with infrared light.

The students also got to see the University’s ‘Formula Student’ racing car up close, and received an introduction to 3D printing and an insight into the inner workings of volcanos.

STEM Live! has been designed to give students a fresh perspective by taking them out of the classroom and into an environment where they can immerse themselves in the world of science.

Professor Karen Holford, Pro Vice-Chancellor for the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, said: "Events like this bring science and technology to life. We want to inspire young people to engage with STEM subjects, and providing such an exciting and immersive day of activities is a great way to do this."

Wendy Sadler, the STEM Live! Co-ordinator, said: “We have developed an event that gives students access to exciting research but within a context that makes sense regarding their careers. Research suggests that students make choices about what subjects they want (or don’t want) to pursue at an early age, so STEM Live! gives us a great opportunity to reach out to this younger audience.”

The event also introduces students to a wider range of STEM-related career applications before they choose their GCSE options.

The development of STEM Live! has been supported by Cardiff University’s RCUK-funded Schools-University Partnership Initiative.