Laura Bonnett

Laura Bonnett

8:15 on a Thursday morning in September.  It’s a glorious day – the sun is out and the temperature’s rising.  I pick up the two large boxes of paperwork, poster tube and laptop from my car boot and walk, with some trepidation to the reception area of Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy, Runcorn.

I am not a teacher.  I am a medical statistician at the University of Liverpool (and a STEM Ambassador).  I spend my days sat behind a computer analysing data and researching statistical methodology.  What I am about to do is a far cry from my day job.

I’m greeted at reception by a lovely lady who signs me in and then the STEM co-ordinator for the school greets me and takes me into the Learning Space.  It’s a great room, full of colour and light.  Around the room are various scientists emptying boxes, erecting posters and getting various machinery and props.

Why am I here?  Today, the school are holding a STEM careers fair.  It’s a carousel type event where pupils from KS4 and KS5 classes will get the chance to meet various professionals from STEM careers.  The aim of the day is to broaden the pupils’ minds concerning future careers, especially those in STEM subjects which tend to be less popular choices.

At today’s careers fair there are three engineers (material, structural and civil), a doctor, a nurse, a pharmacist, a geologist, a nuclear physicist, a mechanic, a chemist and, of course, a statistician.

At 9am the first class enter the room.  I’m not sure who’s more nervous, the pupils or the professionals!  After a couple of minutes though the pupils split away from the group and head to the various stalls to begin quizzing the scientists about their jobs.  I talk about my research, the lecturing I do, the Royal Statistical Society and in particular the Merseyside local group, and the Cochrane Collaboration.  My ‘presentation’ may not be as exciting as the gentleman next to me who is sucking all the air out of plastic bottles, but it catches the attention of the pupils which is the aim, especially all the colourful leaflets on my table.

By 3pm the day is over and we’ve met at least 300 pupils.  I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous at the start of the day.  However, the first two pupils who came to talk to me were really confident individuals, who were most polite and genuinely interested in what I did.

I’m really pleased that I spent my day at Ormiston Bolingbroke.  It’s lovely to see pupils who are enthusiastic about education.  In addition to the traditional subjects the school offers alternative subjects such as hairdressing and car mechanics and I had two pupils come up to me, in their hairdressing salon uniform, and were so interested in what I had to say that they took a copy ofSignificance home with them!

If I’m being honest I’m not sure any one of the pupils will become a statistician as a result of me being there.  But, 300 more people know what a statistician does and why the role of a statistician is so important.

Tired? Yes! Glad to get home? Yes! Would I do it again? Absolutely!

WOW! Our STEM Ambassador Laura Bonnett announced as Rosalind Franklin Award Lecturer!

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