STEM Pathways

View Image : Toby Clark

One of my most vivid science memories from school is being one of 30 pupils trooped outside into the school grounds armed only with a metre stick. We were asked to walk in a straight line to simulate a beam of light travelling from air to water. As a group we demonstrated refraction – it was in front of me, and I was part of it. I felt it and it stuck with me.

Later, I became more interested in our natural world – such as how a diving kingfisher or gannet adjusts to compensate for refraction whilst hunting for fish. For me, the joy of science is the hands-on aspect that if offers – it is all around us and helps fuel our imagination. The natural world offers endless stimulation and questions – from staring at the stars to growing flowers in a window box.

Unfortunately, the majority of science I experienced in school was more classroom based than perhaps suited my learning style. However, I did enjoy Geography, as well as English and Art – and of course playing endless games of football.

As a young adult I tried to keep my education opportunities as broad as possible as I did not have a clear sense of what I wanted to do.

Eventually, I was given the confidence and encouragement to follow my interests. I volunteered with the Scottish Wildlife Trust, I completed a practical National Vocational Qualification in land use and conservation, I gained experience at an Ecology Centre supporting young people experience and learn about the outdoors.

Now, I’m fortunate enough to enjoy a job that encourages people to have fun and connect with our natural environment – this increases people’s interest in caring for and protecting wildlife and wild places.

My interest in science has given me the opportunity to make a positive difference to people as well as places. More importantly, it has inspired a life-long passion for nature and wildlife too.