Meet the Team- Emily Bill
Find out what you could do with your STEAMWORKS experience in this interview with Emily. She was a fantastic club leader for many years before becoming a fully fledged DT teacher!
It’s always sad to say goodbye to a member of the STEAMWORKS team, but they always go onto fantastic careers in STEM and teaching!
Emily is no exception. She started to work for us almost 4 years ago and said that STEAMWORKS had a lasting impact on the way she teaches her students today.
Why did you join STEAMWORKS?
Emily had started her Product Design undergraduate degree at Sheffield Hallam when she saw an advert to join STEAMWORKS as a club assistant in 2017.
After a coffee with our founder, Alison Buxton, and just a handful of sessions as an assistant, she quickly dived straight into club leading. The challenge gave her first hand experience in leading a classroom full of kids.
“Before getting to uni I knew I wanted to be a teacher”, Emily said, “but I made the decision not to do a direct teaching course because I wanted to get a qualification in my subject area first.
“I still wanted to have that teaching experience at uni though, and I didn’t just want a pub job. I didn’t want to work unsociable hours and STEAMWORKS meant I was still home by five and ready to go out instead of serving your friends drinks when they come into a bar”
What was STEAMWORKS like and what did you learn?
After working with us for so long Emily became a highly valued member of the STEAMWORKS team and took part in pretty much every activity we had on offer.
She said: “I was then doing lunch times and after schools with key stage 1 and 2 doing all of the activities, your slime, your lava lamps. We did a lot of electronics as well which is where it got interesting, like getting to use hot glue guns with really little ones. That was good fun, they loved it.
“No week was the same. One workshop, the kids were having competitions to build the best zip wires, the next they were squeezing digestive biscuits and orange juice out of tights like it was poo to show how digestion worked- was a weird one.”
On a less gross note, we asked Emily if she still uses the skills she picked up at our workshops.
She said: “Massively, if you can manage a young class of kids between 5 and 6 using hot glue guns and 3D printing pens you can do anything. You can manage a class of teenagers if you can manage a class of little ones.”
“Half of my classroom management comes from the workshops. When I was in training my teachers would ask me where I learnt to control a classroom like that, I just said it was my experience.
“We have a requirement in the curriculum to implement the rest of the contents of STEM. So the way we introduce backgrounds in STEAMWORKS projects by linking the science to it has helped me to be a DT teacher. “
What do you do now?
We were lucky to work with Emily up to the start of her PGCE in 2019, and now she’s a qualified Design and Technology teacher at secondary and sixth-form level. She covers all areas of DT- from product design to electronics, food to textiles.
She told us what she did after STEAMWORKS: “I finished my course at Hallam and I went on to do my teacher training there as well.
“Obviously. STEAMWORKS was a massive part that allowed me to stand out from the crowd in my application. I’d been effectively teaching an hour a day for the past three years at uni.”
After completing her PGCE at Hallam, Emily started teaching in Hertfordshire.
“I’ve not quite outlived my STEAMWORKS life though”, she told us, “I’ve got younger cousins so I’m always doing their birthday parties now, so I’m often making slime using the STEAMWORKS recipes.
“I look through my Twitter feed and see old messages like ‘my three hours teaching primary school kids is the best part of my week’, and they were.
“For the kids you were someone new and fresh. You weren’t a school teacher to them but they still respected you. They hung onto every work you said, now my teenagers couldn’t care less sometimes!”
Would you recommend us?
Emily told us that she’d tell anyone in a similar position to her, who is even slightly interested in teaching, to have a go.
She said: “It teaches skills you can apply anywhere, and that teenagers no different to younger kids. I teach my teenagers which a very similar approach which you learnt at workshops because what you’re teaching is equally as new to both of them.”
“It was really nice to have that experience with primary schools now I’ve gone into secondary school teaching.”
Being a club leader is a unique job. She said: “Everyone has worked at their local supermarket or at their pub, there’s only a handful of people with that real world experience that can lead into exactly what they want to do, whether that be a career in a STEM subject or definitely teaching.”
“I’m a sixth form teacher now, when my sixth formers are debating a few different university choices I tell them to go to Sheffield so I can set them up with a job at STEAMWORKS!”
I don’t think a student could find a job that works so fabulously around uni and looks as incredible on your CV as STEAMWORKSWould you recommend us to new students?
We also asked if, as a new teacher, she could see the value of getting kids into science and technology as early as possible.
“Having seen how year 7’s come into us- ones who can’t hold a colouring pencil correctly or use scissors, ones that have never even have looked at a hot glue gun- I now know that, without STEAMWORKS, they wouldn’t have those opportunities until secondary school.
“I always felt it was important whilst I was a club leader, but now as a teacher I imagine that if every primary school student had done something like a STEAMWORKS workshop before they joined year 7 they would be incredible students in DT.
“The activities we did made sure that at least some primary school kids were getting the science and technology education that grips them at a young age.”