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Pioneering DMU student is helping shape policy on STEM

A pioneering dyslexic student at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) is presenting evidence in Parliament today, to help shape policy on how children are taught STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in school.

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Jessica Okoro, a third year Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Science student, is today talking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Education about her innovating BeScience STEM movement which she set up in 2013.

BeScience STEM gives people in the community a more fun and engaging look into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, through innovative workshops delivered by volunteers.

Jessica, a STEM Ambassador for the Science, technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network (STEMNET), said: “As a dyslexic student, I started BeScience STEM because I wanted children to have a better experience of learning STEM subjects than I did.

“I’m really interested in how STEM is introduced and taught in schools, and we aim to encourage innovative and creative teaching styles.

“Being dyslexic made me think I wouldn’t be good enough to study science at university, but patience and mentorship boosted my confidence by helping me develop hands-on and creative ways to learn.”

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BeScience STEM is supported by the award-winning DMU Square Mile, which brings about life-changing community opportunities through academic expertise and student volunteers.

Four pop-up workshops have already been delivered by 90 volunteers, including trained DMU student volunteers, in shopping centres across the country like Leicester’s High Cross and London’s Brent Cross, with monthly library sessions taking place in Leicester.

A fifth workshop, backed by the BBC and the Institute of Engineering and Technology, took place at BBC Radio Leicester on Friday. Volunteers encouraged families to experiment with DMU's electric car, explore infrared cameras, and have a go at 3D printing.

The 22-year old said: “Our volunteers are absolutely brilliant. They make STEM exciting for everyone, building them up and filling them with confidence.”

Volunteer Farhaanah Ali, a third year Psychology student, said: “DMU Square Mile runs lots of interesting initiatives and I jumped at the chance to get involved with BeScience STEM as I love working with children.

“Doing something like this has improved my confidence, built on my inter-personal skills and is something I’m proud to include on my CV.”

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As a DMU Square Mile Frontrunner, Jessica is gaining vital work experience and having a positive impact on the local community and beyond.

Jessica said: “DMU as a community has really supported me with this project. Lecturers, technicians, other staff and students from across the entire campus have chipped in.

“BeScience is so popular that we now have a waiting list for volunteers, who are willing to get involved.

“I genuinely don’t think I couldn’t have achieved any of this at any other university.”

Posted on Tuesday 23rd February 2016

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