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Meeting STEM Experts


CC-BY, provided by the author

While using STEM education, teachers implicitly aim for students to choose STEM fields in the future as well as trying to develop 21st century skills in students. One of the reasons for this aim is the idea that employment in STEM professions will increase by 2031 (1).  However, is it enough just to carry out STEM activities for students to be interested in STEM professions? As someone who has been implementing STEM education in classrooms for about 7 years, I think it is not enough. In addition to doing STEM activities, talking to experts and asking questions to them can attract students’ interest in STEM professions.

All students in our school are girls.  Considering the low number of female students (2) in STEM fields, I think that meeting with experts can be a eye-opener for them. For this reason, I arranged for my students to meet with 3 different experts this year.

                 First Session: STE(A)M IT (An Interdisiplinary STEM Approach) 

Online Chat Session with Replacement, Reduction, Refinement Animal Use in Science (Three Rs) Experts organised by Scientix and Three Rs projects, in collaboration with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC).  

STE(A)M IT project aims to ensure the contextualization of the integrated STEM teaching by establishing a network of guidance counsellors/career advisors in schools promoting the attractiveness of STEM jobs to their classes. You can find more information about STE(A)M IT from the link given below.(4) STE(A)M IT organised two different sessions in December 2022 to bring students together with experts. The topic and the scientist of these two sessions were different. Since my students are girls, I especially preferred the female scientist session (I was able to attend this special session because I am a STE(A)M IT career advisor).  Before the session, students were given a career page prepared by STE(A)M IT to have information about the scientist (3). Students attended the session by preparing their questions. During the 60-minute session, Biokinetics Scientist Stavroula Sampani gave information about her work. Students asked their questions from the chat section and the scientist answered these questions. You can access the video of the session from the link given below(5).

Review: The students were very excited to have the opportunity to meet an expert for the first time and asked for more such interactions. The session was in English, which made it difficult for the students at first, but thanks to the captioning feature in Microsoft Teams, they were able to understand the dialogue. The students had heard about Biokinetics for the first time and some of them were interested and started to research about this profession. The only negative aspect of this session was that the students were not able to speak (which they really wanted to do), but I think this kind of session is more suitable for both teachers and students in the beginning. As students and teachers get used to it, they can start to interact with experts, which is what we did.


                                Second Session: Skype a Scientist (6)

This organisation, which enables everyone to meet with scientists, matches you with a scientist immediately when you fill in the form given in the link. The match was made with Dr Maayan YEHUDAI, Climate Scientist. We gave the students a link to have information about the scientist and to prepare their questions.(7) We arranged the date and time of the session by e-mailing the scientist. An online session lasting half an hour was held. Dr Maayan first introduced herself and her profession and then answered the questions of the students. The students did not want the session to end and said that they wanted to talk to Dr Maayan again. Three of my students said they would become scientists. This was Dr Maayan’s influence. She gave such warm and honest answers that the children said they wanted to be like her.

Review: It was a very encouraging session for all of us. Dr Maayan gave us and the students very valuable advices. Especially learning that Dr Maayan was not good at mathematics when she was a student motivated our students. We started to hear the following sentences: ‘Scientists are also bad at maths. Then I can be a scientist too.’

                                 Third Session : SistersLab

SistersLab is an association working for gender equality and women empowerment in STEM fields. You can find more information about SistersLab from the link given below.(8)

In the previous sessions, the English language was difficult for some students. For this reason, I wanted to introduce students to an expert from our own country. I contacted Ayşe AKTAĞ from SistersLab. Cyber security is a topic that has gained importance recently. Mrs Ayşe is also a Cyber Security Expert. The students were informed about Cyber Security Expertise before the session (9). Afterwards, a one-hour session was held with Mrs Ayşe.  After giving information about cyber security, Mrs Ayşe answered the questions of the students. You can access the session video from the link below (10).

Review: It was a session where students had information about cyber security. Especially students who are interested in computers were very interested. There were students who started to think about this profession.

Result: Students had the opportunity to meet real scientists. They realised how close these seemingly unattainable professionals could actually be. They started to think of themselves in these professions. The good thing is that the students started to research different professions and asked me to have a session with one of those professions. I guess the journey is just beginning.

Zeynep ER is a science teacher working at MEB (Ministry of National Education).  She has been a Scientix Ambassador since 2022. She is doing my Master’s Degree in the Department of Interdisciplinary Science, Mathematics, Art and Technology Education (FMST) at Ankara University. She has been implementing STEM activities in her classes for about 7 years.


1 – https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/stem-employment.htm

2- fs55-women-in-science-2019-en.pdf (unesco.org)

3- http://files.eun.org/scientix/ThreeRs-Career-Sheet-Stavroula-Sampani.pdf 

4- https://steamit.eun.org/ 

5- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yytsw8qVhcY&t=1062s&ab_channel=EuropeanSchoolnet

6- https://www.skypeascientist.com/

7- https://www.maayanyehudai.com/

8- https://sisterslab.co/

9- https://www.kariyer.net/pozisyonlar/siber+guvenlik+uzmani/nedir#:~:text=Siber%20g%C3%BCvenlik%20uzman%C4%B1%2C%20elektronik%20bilgi,sahip%20olan%20ki%C5%9Fi%20olarak%20tan%C4%B1mlan%C4%B1r.

10- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=717Pybl8CVI&t=2761s&ab_channel=GeyveK%C4%B1zAnadolu%C4%B0mamHatipLisesi 

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