Cardiff graduates win at Wales STEM Awards 2022
30 November 2022
Two Cardiff Chemistry graduates have found success at the Wales STEM Awards 2022 held in Cardiff this October, where they were recognised for inspiring a new generation of scientists.
Rhian Booth and Melissa Broughton, close friends from their time at Cardiff University decided to convert their combined 20+ years teaching experience into a business that could really bring science alive for children and young people - SparkLab Cymru.
In their time teaching GCSE and A-level science particularly they observed too many learners with the self-limiting belief that they ‘couldn’t do science’.
Having their own children opened their eyes, in Rhian’s words “to the inspiring way that pre-schoolers just ‘do science’ as they simply explore the world around them. They might be too young to hold a pencil, but give them a lab coat and they’d be right at home - constantly investigating, experimenting, and inventing!”
It got them wondering Mel says, “could we help more little ones nurture their inner scientist? Could we help more young people rekindle the spark of scientific curiosity, and keep their wonder and enthusiasm for science alive?”
"A well-timed Instagram post in early 2020 validated that demand was there, and from that day the response has been amazing, and we’ve never looked back. Now we are truly on a mission to put the wonder of science learning back into science education.”
Since its inception, SparkLab Cymru has gone from strength to strength culminating in the business being 'Highly Commended' in the STEM Educational Programme of the Year category and winning the STEM Company of the Year award (under 50 employees) at the recent Wales STEM Awards 2022 held at the Mercure Hotel, Cardiff.
Of the award, the duo told us: “as a relatively new business, surrounded by so many people already established in the sector, we were just excited to be shortlisted. However, to hear the judges talk about the importance of inspiring the next generation of scientists – this is something we are incredibly passionate about and hopefully that shows every time anyone talks to us.
Also, to be highly commended in STEM Educational Programme of the Year category is such an honour. To hear two-year olds using correct scientific terminology such as ‘filtration’ and ‘buoyancy’ and know how to use a pipette is amazing!”.
Looking at the future, the pair commented; “we have grown so much in such a short space of time and we have so many hopes and dreams for the future. We want to bring more people into the SparkLab community, and even have our sights on our own venue!”
Considering their success, Rhian and Mel reflected on their time at Cardiff University: “Studying Chemistry at Cardiff University was an incredible experience – we made friendships to last a lifetime and got an excellent education too! It cemented my (Mel’s) decision to go into teaching, as I wanted to inspire others to go on and study the subject. It provided Rhi, initially, with the opportunity to work in industry during her Third Year which resulted in her obtaining a job at the same company at the end of her degree before moving into the teaching profession. Our time at Cardiff made everything possible”.