I always enjoyed all of the STEM subjects at school particularly maths and biology. My interest and enjoyment for biology was in part due to my love of watching natural history programmes, particularly those from Sir David Attenborough and Steve Irwin ‘The Crocodile Hunter’. After leaving school I went onto study psychology with a focus on biology. I completed my degree although realised that it was probably not what I wanted to do as a career and ended up going to work for a regeneration agency in Drumchapel, which I loved! I had the opportunity to work with young people from challenging backgrounds and support them into entering a positive destination on leaving school. I enjoyed it so much that I went back to university to study primary teaching in order to offer nurture and support to those that need it most. I had far too many subjects that I enjoyed at school to have been able to choose just one so I felt this was a great opportunity to teach and learn a variety of subjects on a daily basis.
With my classes I always preferred facilitating more practical and investigative types of learning and teaching, which the STEM subjects lend themselves extremely well too. I had the opportunity to further develop my STEM skills by attending a number of professional learning events and then used this to organise and deliver CLPL within my own school. This then lead to my role now of Primary Science Development Officer (PSDO) for Glasgow City Council. I am now 1 of 13 PSDO’s based across Scotland as part of the Raising Aspirations in Science Education (RAiSE) programme funded by the Wood Foundation. This has provided me with a great opportunity to develop, deliver and support STEM education within Glasgow. Science and STEM do not need to be over complicated areas of the curriculum they can be fun, engaging and most importantly a valuable and necessary learning experience.
Growing up I was constantly building things. I loved investigating how things worked and trying to replicate them at home with any materials that I could get my hands on. To me, there was nothing better than designing and making a really complex model, so it’s no wonder that I loved Design and Technology and Art at school. These subjects allowed me to combine my creative flair with engineering and I took both all the way to Advanced Higher level. I knew that I wanted to do something with them in my career and I considered lots of different options but finally settled on studying Technological Education at the University of Glasgow. This course was really unique as it combined a vast range of subjects like product design, CAD modelling and how we use technology in our everyday lives. I picked up so much from this but the most valuable thing that I learned is that I wanted to help others develop their design and technology skills.
On leaving university I went straight into Secondary Teaching and delivered classes in Woodwork, Graphics and Design and Manufacture. I knew that I wanted to offer my pupils more so I started up the school’s first STEM club. We ran activities for all year groups, set up work placements and were even nominated of the national club of the year. I loved how STEM brought so many opportunities to young people and showed them that they were capable of far more than they ever imagined. I wanted a chance to do this on a much larger scale so I went for a job as Glasgow’s STEM Development Officer. Through this I’ve been able to bring STEM activities hundreds of pupils across Glasgow and even train other members of staff. I am always amazed at how much success STEM has brought to my life and to the pupils that I work with!
As a child, I was inspired by David Attenborough’s television programmes, by the amazing animals and by the exotic places he visited. In secondary school, biology and chemistry were subjects that I really enjoyed and was good at, and took them at Higher to allow me to study sciences at University. Initially I went to study genetics, but quickly realised that I was really interested in was evolution, and so moved across to Zoology. I researched Green and loggerhead turtles in Northern Cyprus, fruit bats in the Seychelles then travelled around southern Africa exploring the region and seeking out the amazing animals in the bush.
I came back to Scotland and became a countryside ranger, initially as a seasonal worker, then moving to a permanent job in Tollcross Park in the east end. After a few years there I was promoted to senior countryside ranger for Glasgow, and was now based in Pollok Country Park, with an office overlooking the White Cart water and heavy horse stable. Not the usual city office!
My experience had shown me that in order to tackle some of the key environmental issues so important to me, I needed to engage young people as early as possible. So I applied for the Eco schools coordinator for Education Services, and was successful. This role developed over time to include all aspects of sustainable development education. I was seconded to a smart city project developing apps for walking and cycling, then returned to Education and was tasked to develop our approach to STEM education. So far I’ve had a pretty varied and interesting career and it’s all down to STEM!