Meet the Team- Fern Holroyd
Before becoming a STEM leader for girl guides across South Yorkshire and inspiring a generation of young scientists at secondary school, Fern was one of our outstanding club leaders and programme coordinators! We caught up with her for this week’s Meet the Team.
If you speak to any ex-club leader, they’ll tell you that you never really stop doing STEAMWORKS activities. For Fern Holroyd, that’s no different. She joined us over five years ago as a FabLab club assistant and hasn’t looked back since.
We asked her about how she started out with STEAMWORKS and where it’s taken her since.
What did you do at STEAMWORKS?
Fern worked with us between 2016 and 2019 in a variety of jobs and roles but, like dozens of other members of our team, heard about us when she was looking for work experience at uni.
“An email went around whilst I was a biology student at Sheffield Hallam from the careers and employability team”, Fern said, ” it had a message from Alison (our founder) saying ‘I’m running these after school clubs and I’m looking for leaders’.
“I met Alison in a Costa and that’s history, I stayed there for three and a half years!”
Fern started out as a club assistant, helping our club leaders before quickly starting as a leader herself. She quickly got stuck into some of our bigger, nation-wide projects
After a stint as our marketing intern, Fern became our programme coordinator for the Young Science Ambassador scheme. In the role she reached out to new primary schools reaching the length and breadth of the country. As well as working with schools across Yorkshire and Derbyshire, Fern took STEAMWORKS further afield- from Sussex to Blackpool and beyond.
We interviewed Fern back in 2018 about her role in the Young Science Ambassador scheme, where she told us about how amazed she was by the confidence it gave all the kids taking part.
Fern was a staple of the STEAMWORKS team, coming to careers and work experience fairs and trekking across England during British Science Week (which, as you can expect, is busier than Christmas for us).
We asked Fern how her biology degree fitted into her leadership role: “So I did some of the activity development stuff for STEAMWORKS, what I did was try to base the activities around a key concept.
“Jacki was fantastic at that, she always linked the activities to the time of year, and explained all the relevant science around it and could relate what was happening to world events.”
“Our work was definitely important in really pushing the STEM curriculum, which quite often a lot of primary schools miss out on and often overlook. I now know in secondary schools that the science education kids get in primary varies a lot. Some schools do amazingly at it but quite often some just don’t have the funding or the know-how. “
What do you do now?
After completing her Biology degree around her work at STEAMWORKS, Fern dived right into her teacher training.
She said: “I went straight into a science PGCE. Working at STEAMWORKS meant that I’d already heard of and experienced a lot of the things we were learning about through the course
“I’d already learnt a lot about behaviour and classroom management before I started. So that let me really focus on the teaching elements of it, rather than constantly worrying about how challenging a class was going to be.”
Since then, Fern’s started as a secondary school science teacher. She’s already made a distinct impression at her school too, starting a new STEM club and pushing for more STEM practicals in her classes.
“The passion for STEM teaching has carried on and stuck with me ever since STEAMWORKS,” she said, “if you ask anyone I know in my department they’ll say they’re sick of hearing about it!
“Now, we’re looking at working more STEM curriculum activities in at our school which has been great.”
Before university and her PGCE, Fern had experience leading groups with her local Girlguides, from assisting from the age of 16 to leading her own senior team by 18. Now, on top of all the work she’s doing at her school, she’s the STEM coordinator for South Yorkshire Girlguiding.
How does STEAMWORKS help you today?
Lots of our ex-club leaders struggle to leave their old STEAMWORKS life behind, and Fern isn’t any different.
She said: “It never ends with STEAMWORKS! Everything I did there has followed me in one way or another.
“Just from having the experience of running after school clubs and knowing the small things from a management level, like health and safety and getting people registered, and being able to bring little practical activities into normal lessons that would have been quite mundane. All of that came from my time there.”
We then asked how big of an impact we think it’s had on her career today. She said: “It’s massive, it really helped to ground me and understand what I wanted from my career moving forward.
“Moving into the programme coordinator role, which taught me how to go about planning events and how to plan lessons has all carried through. The key skills I gained like behaviour management are exactly what you need as a teacher.
“On a confidence level as well, personally and as a teacher, really grew through STEAMWORKS.”
“Having that experience through FabLab in being able to manage a group of young children you pick up key things, key little tricks you can apply to other settings like secondary schools.”