By Holly Giles
Tim Peake has become an international icon after his time on the International Space Station and for many children he has become a hero. 450 students from Wales got to meet their hero last week, attending a UK Space Conference where Peake spoke about his space mission and six-month stay on the station. The students also heard from Dr Jim Green, NASA Chief Scientist, about NASA’s plans to return to the Moon and future plans to explore Mars. This conference was part of the Trio Sci Cymru programme, an initiative led by the Welsh Government’s National Science Academy in partnership with Cardiff, Swansea, Bangor and Aberystwyth universities, to encourage secondary school students to consider careers in STEM.
This comes after the Welsh Government skills minister, Eluned Morgan, stated: We have a real issue here in Wales as we are struggling to encourage both boys and girls to take up the incredible opportunities that are available to people with skills in these subjects”. This is a widespread issue but particularly prevalent in girls where Wales shows only 12% of girls go on to study STEM subjects at university. Morgan explained the importance of this statistic not only for girls but also for society: “The lack of women in Stem professions matters for their individual life chances. They risk missing out on many well-paid jobs and rewarding jobs. More broadly, it limits the talent available to our science base and to businesses in Wales and is therefore a constraint on our wider economic prosperity and social well being.”
To combat this, Trio Sci Cymru will provide around 3,200 pupils from 18 secondary schools with an enriched science education, with the hope of inspiring scientists of the future. The man behind the initiative, Cardiff University’s Dr Paul Roche, explains this further: “We need to ensure that Wales is educating the next generation of scientists and engineers, and the Trio Sci Cymru programme will help enthuse many more school students to carry on with science subjects right through to university level”. This program sees students visit conferences with famous speakers, like Tim Peake, visits to universities and support with their studies. With this initiative the 12% statistic should be merely a distant memory.