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Why volunteer in STEM?

Introduction to the course.
Welcome to the Inspiring Young People in STEM program. My name is Angela Rust and I work for STEM Learning. One of the programmes which STEM Learning provides is a volunteer programme called STEM Ambassadors and I’m the Training Coordinator for STEM Ambassadors in the UK. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This course is aimed at STEM Ambassadors and other volunteers who do STEM activities with young people in schools and community organisations. There are considerable challenges attracting young people into STEM careers. Employers in the UK report STEM skills shortages and difficulty in filling STEM jobs. For example, 186,000 people with engineering skills will be needed, annually, every year from now until 2024.
We know that young people enjoy engaging, practical STEM activities and by reaching out to a diverse audience of young people, STEM Ambassadors have a positive and influential role to play. Throughout the next two weeks you will find, critique and adapt resources you can use for practical STEM activities to suit diverse audiences. We will also introduce the concepts of Science Capital, unconscious bias, inclusivity and diversity, and ask you to consider how these influence working with young people. By the end of the course, you’ll have begun to develop your approach to using practical activities to convey your insight into STEM subjects. We’re looking forward to working with you and seeing your enthusiasm for volunteering in STEM.

Welcome to the Inspiring Young People in STEM program and this course on resources and diversity.

Together, we aim to support your development as a volunteer and enable you to make an impact on young people with practical activities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

This is the first in a series of four courses designed for volunteers in STEM, such as STEM Ambassadors in the UK. We also encourage other volunteers around the world, educators in voluntary organisations and those wanting to engage with young people to join in and take part to learn about developing effective, practical activities.

If you are a teacher, we hope you’ll share your insight into the classroom with volunteers on this course. You’ll also find out about how volunteers can positively contribute to your students’ learning.

On this course

In Week 1 you will discover the range of resources available to you to start volunteering. In Week 2 you’ll hear from educators about some of the things you should consider as an inclusive volunteer working with diverse groups.

By then end of the course you will be able to:

  • Identify the range of resources available as a starting point for planning a STEM activity.
  • Evaluate a resource, considering its relevance for a specific group of young people.
  • Explore aspects of diversity and the implications for working with young people.
  • Reflect on your own attitudes and approaches to inclusivity when volunteering.


If you’re new to online learning or new to FutureLearn, you may find the How it works guide helpful. The Crowdsourced Guide to Learning and Five tips and tools for social learning on FutureLearn may also be of interest.

Tasks and discussions

Tasks are titled as such and are highlighted with a vertical line in the left-margin – like the one against this paragraph. The first tasks of this course are at the bottom of this page.

Learning together

This course is designed so you learn with your fellow participants, particularly via the discussions. By writing comments you take the time to think and reflect on your understanding. Share your thoughts and questions about the course and your experiences as a volunteer. If you need help, post a question as a comment in the relevant course step. If you can help a fellow learner, don’t be afraid to reply and make a suggestion.

Technical support

If you need any technical support use the Support button at the bottom right of your screen or email If you wish to get in contact with the National STEM Learning Centre directly about this course, please email

STEM Learning resources

We’ll introduce you to a huge range of resources to support your volunteering. Some of these will be on the STEM Learning website and you may wish to register for free access. If you are not based in the UK, you will need to register using the ‘International’ option (not as a STEM Ambassador).

Get started

Introduce yourself

In the next step we’ll look at some real challenges that volunteers, like you, can help address. It’s really important to understand where you come from as this can influence what you may bring as a volunteer, so over the next few steps we would like you to share a little about yourself.
In the comments below, say hello, who you are, and why you joined this course.

Mark complete

When you complete a step on the course, click ‘Mark as Complete’ at the bottom right. This helps you keep track of your progress. Mark over 90% of the course steps complete and you’ll be eligible for a Certificate of Achievement when you Upgrade.
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Volunteering in the Classroom: Adapting Resources for STEM Activities

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