Meet the Team- Angela Blackwell
We’d like to introduce you to Angela. She’s a long standing club leader at STEAMWORKS trying to make kids as enthusiastic about science as she is.
Our activity officers and club leaders come from a variety of backgrounds. We work with uni students looking to learn how to manage a classroom full of kids as well as experienced teachers eager to try out something new.
But at STEAMWORKS, we also welcome anyone with a real passion for making children excited about STEM.
Angela Blackwell is one such STEAMWORKS team member. She signed up at the tail end of 2018 to help give primary school students the science experiences they might be missing out on.
How did you get involved with STEAMWORKS?
Before starting at STEAMWORKS, Angela left her office job after nearly two decades to spend more time with her three children and start working with kids. She has a passion for working with infants and junior school students and has spent the past seven years working with them wherever she can.
“When I had my third daughter I thought I’m going to stop, take a step back, look after my girls,” she said.
“I got involved with the PTA at my children’s school, and with quite a few toddler groups too. Then a job came up as a supervisor at the school and I went for it, I’ve been working with children ever since. I’ve now started doing a TA role at the school too.”
Some years down the line, a friend asked if she had heard of STEAMWORKS.
“My friend told me about [our Managing Director] Helen Bell’s company and that they were doing science with local primary schools. When I finished a job at a school at the time I told Helen I’d love to do it.
“I love working with children, I’ve done it for the past seven years but I really love the science side of it. So I approached Helen and said ‘yeah, sign me up, where’d you want me?’ “
STEAMWORKS doesn’t only give children valuable STEM experiences- our FabLab leaders get the opportunity to rediscover their scientific side too.
Angela has made parachutes and zipwires, slime and carried out chromatography experiments during her time at STEAMWORKS. But we asked her about her favourite- slime worms.
She explained how a specific slime mixture is squirted directly into a transparent pot of water to make long, worm-like strings of slime.
She said: “They look totally disgusting, they’re incredibly wet and slimey. When you first make them the kids gasp and think their absolutely brilliant, and then once you pull it out of the water they go from ‘wow that’s amazing’ to ‘eww that’s disgusting’ right away!”
As well as occasionally grossing out FabLab participants, Angela has learnt along the way too. She said: “I have always enjoyed science, but it has helped me get my textbooks out more, read into it.
“When Helen comes with the equipment I get the kids together to test it out, we have a look and say “right, let’s see how all this works”, they get quite involved doing it as well
“I’m learning new things too, just like the kids. When I came to STEAMWORKS I’d never made slime before and hadn’t done chromatography and those sorts of activities since I was at school. It’s brought back all of those to me too.”
What would you say to new volunteers?
Having been with us for nearly three years, we asked Angela if she’d recommend it to other people who want to work in schools.
She said: “Absolutely! If you love getting hands on and teaching, it’s a great way to start off.
“For me, getting to work with all sorts of children as a TA has been a huge learning curve for me, and STEAMWORKS has given me the chance to show all of them can have a go and that science can be for everyone.
“You don’t have to already be a teacher at all. I’d recommend it to everyone if they wanted to work with children but didn’t know where to start. I always leave with a great big smile on my face because I have an amazing amount of fun during it and I know the kids do too.”