2 July 2018
Over the past year, the Abingdon Science Partnership has been working under contract to the National STEM Learning Centre at the University of York, helping to deliver its Polar Explorer Programme to a national network of primary schools.
Funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and supported by the British Antarctic Survey and the Natural Environment Research Council, the aim of the programme is to encourage participation in STEM subjects, particularly among under-represented groups.
The resources and support provided by Polar Ambassadors, such as ASP Co-ordinator Jeremy Thomas, have enabled participating schools to embed more STEM activities in their curriculum, both through direct engagement with pupils and through training primary school teachers to carry out their own activities related to polar science.
One of the schools supported by the ASP was Even Primary in Swindon, who really embraced the opportunity to take part, filling the school with amazing displays, holding whole school assemblies on polar exploration and running polar science activities during their science week, including Y1 workshops on Arctic Food Chains and Y3 on Ocean Acidification.
Jeremy Thomas was particularly pleased to be selected as a Polar Ambassador, having spent ten years in oceanographic and polar research before becoming a teacher. Year 2 of the programme is about to end, just as the UK's brand new polar research vessel, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, is launched at Birkenhead on 14 July. This event will be live streamed here.
Funding for the Polar Explorer Programme will continue for a third year, to cover the sea trials and first deployment of the new ship. The ASP hopes to have its contract renewed to work with new primary schools in 2018-19.