Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Finding work experience opportunities in STEM

Over 95% of students go on work experience in Years 10 or 11. Most placements are arranged for the latter half of the summer term in Year 10, to avoid disruption to timetabled learning. Some placements last three weeks, but most finish after two weeks, or even one.


If you are looking for a placement related to science or maths and haven’t been able to find one through school, then you may well have to find a placement yourself. You can get ideas from friends, family, online business directories or business directories in your local library, or have a look at the list below for ideas on where you can start your research:


National STEM Centre (includes e-library resources)

Thursday, 24 March 2016

“Out-of-the-box thinkers” able to take a “helicopter view” are 72% less likely to get a job

CVs that claim to be able to take a ‘helicopter view,’ be ‘results-orientated’ or ‘out-of-the-box thinkers’ capable of ‘shifting the paradigm’ are 72% less likely to get candidates through to interview or to secure a job because they contain so much jargon.*

The research, undertaken by O2, forms part of their Think Big programme which is designed to help young people build their skills and employability and the gap between education and the workplace.

O2 Think Big found that one third of employers spend a minute or less reading each CV they receive, making snap judgments. They say that over-use of jargon, spelling or grammar errors or over-designed CVs mean they will immediately reject a candidate’s application.

Now, the top ten worst pieces of management speak that crop up in resumes from candidates has been identified. The research asked those involved in recruitment at UK companies to pick out the worst pieces of jargon and then rank them based on their (over) use.

The worst pieces of CV jargon
1.       “Able to take a helicopter view” (23%)
2.       “Shifting the paradigm” (18%)
3.       “Blue sky thinking” (14%)
4.       “Out-of-the-box thinking” (13%)
5.       “Results-orientated” (7%)
6.       “Road-mapping” (5%)
7.       “Strong interpersonal skills” (5%)
8.       “Leveraging my skills” (5%)
9.       “Critical thinker” (4%)
10.   “Dynamic team player” (4%)

To help combat the problem of jargon-use in CVs, O2 Think Big has teamed up with, the UK’s largest digital volunteering service, to launch a free mobile app (available for Android and for iOS in the near future) called Gro ( The new tool – primarily aimed at young people who may be hunting for their first role in the world of work – helps them to translate volunteering and extra-curriculum activities into language that is recognised, understood and valued by employers.

For example, if a young person has mentored or coached someone, the app will point to their listening skills. If they’ve fundraised for a charitable cause, Gro will highlight their creativity, influencing skills and trustworthiness. If they’ve campaigned for a cause they believe in, Gro will pick out their skills in communication as well as motivating and convincing others to get involved.

A recent report from CIPD encourages more employers to include questions about volunteering and social action as part of the selection process – in order to unlock young people’s “hidden talents” and experiences. According to the #iwill campaign, approximately 3 million people aged between 10 and 20 years old (12%) have undertaken volunteering and social action activity across the UK, but need help to translate the skills and experience they gain through volunteering into “CV speak”.

Jamie Ward-Smith, CEO at comments:  “Volunteering can provide amazing opportunities to boost career development. Enabling young people to translate their social action experiences into CV friendly terms that can impress prospective employers is a great way to demonstrate this and give young volunteers a boost in a competitive jobs market. The new Gro mobile app does just that and we’re thrilled to have worked together with O2 to launch this important new tool.”

To find out more and download the free Gro app, visit

* research conducted amongst a nationally representative sample of 1,000 UK adults on 23 November 2015, of whom 49% who responded “Yes, I regularly review CVs from prospective candidates as part of my job role” were used as the base.

Thursday, 17 March 2016


This week at SATRO, we have had lots going on as part of British Science Week 2016...

LEGO WeDo Workshop at Kingfield Primary School

On Wednesday 16th March, SATRO delivered a LEGO WeDo workshop for primary students at Kingfield Primary School, Pupils worked in pairs to design, engineer and programme robots using LEGO bricks, a computer, a motor and other special elements. Pupils learnt to incorporate tilt and motion sensors into their designs. They then tested their initial designs and programming; after reflecting on what did or did not work, the pupils learnt to consult with peers, adapt their programming, and adjust their designs. 

SATRO Mega-Structures Challenge at Pirbright Village Primary SchoolToday, we are at Pirbright Village Primary School delivering a Mega-Structures Workshop. 60 Year 5 pupils will be tested on their engineering skills. The day involves using design and build techniques, combined with team work to create a shelter that could be sent to a refugee camp for them to cover with plastic sheeting. This event has kindly been sponsored by Beard Construction.

SATRO 2016 Problem Solving Challenge Grand Final at ACS Cobham International School
The regional final of the SATRO Problem Solving Challenge will be held at ACS Cobham International School this evening. Teams of 6 students from schools all over Surrey and bordering areas will be tested on their engineering skills and scientific knowledge during this challenging event - all for a grand prize awarded to their school! This event has kindly been sponsored by Allianz, The Manly Trust, Give-It-Away, The Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers, Frazer Nash and IChemE

B-Involved STEM Challenge - Bouygues UK, SATRO and Runnymede Borough Council
Tomorrow morning, 5 teams from three schools located in Runnymede will be taking to the council chambers to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.  This year's STEM Challenge is being supported by the partners on the Addlestone One scheme along with members of the local construction industry. The students have been set the challenge of developing proposals to enhance the sustainability of the Addlestone development, as well as coming up with innovative ideas to make Addelstone a destination of choice for young people. During the past couple of months, each team has had the opportunity to seek advice from industrial mentors from Bouygues UK, BAM Construction Ltd, Crest Nicholson and Thorpe Park, on sustainability designs and processes. 

LEGO Dacta Workshop at Guildford Library's 'Geek Week'
On Satruday 19th March, SATRO will be delivering it's second LEGO workshop of the week. This time SATRO will be working with Guildford Library during their 'Geek Week' in celebration of British Science Week 2016. Children and parents will be programming the LEGO RoboLab RCX to open the car park barrier, change the traffic control lights and close automatically as their model car cuts the light beam that triggers the sensor. 

To find out how you can get involved with our events, email or visit our website

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

10 FACTS ABOUT APPRENTICESHIPS THAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW - National Apprenticeships Week 2016

Bet you didn't know...

1. Since 2010, there have been over 2 million apprenticeship starts in England.

2. Apprenticeships are available in over 170 industries including aerospace, fashion, broadcast media and finance - with 1,500 job roles available.

3. 90% of apprentices stay in employment after finishing their apprenticeship (includes 2% self-employed).

4. 82% said their apprenticeship had improved their ability to do the job and 79% said that their career prospects had improved.

5. If you are a small business, you may get a £1,500 grant to help cover the cost of starting a new apprentice aged 16 to 24 years old

6.  70% of employers reported that apprenticeships improved their productivity or the quality of their product or service

7. 100 years ago, an apprentice could be summoned to court for being 'idle' or having a 'bad attitude'.

8. The government invested 1.5bn in apprenticeships in 2013 to 2014.

9. The National Audit Office has estimated that for every pound of government investment in apprenticeships, the economy gets £18 back.

10. There has never been a better time to employ an apprentice, or start an apprenticeship.

Visit for more information on apprenticeships and how you can get involved.

Sources: SFA data; National Audit Office; Ancestry; the Centre for Economics and Business Research; National Apprenticeships Website.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

SATRO PROBLEM SOLVING CHALLENGE 2016 - British Science Week 11th - 20th March

SATRO Problem Solving Challenge 2016

As part of British Science Week 2016, SATRO is holding the annual Problem Solving Challenge Grand Final on 17th March 2016. 

The well established SATRO Problem Solving Challenge is a competition for teams of six students in Key Stage groups 3-5 (years 7-13) and is open to all secondary schools in Surrey and the surrounding areas. The teams are set a problem to solve within a set time, using only the materials provided (anything from a marble to a piece of tin foil!). The winning teams are those in each key stage group who have been judged to have best met the criteria set out in the problem.

The culmination of the 2016 SATRO Problem Solving Challenge heats which took place around the county will be on Thursday 17th March 2016. The two highest scoring teams from each of the 3 key stages at each heat will go up against each other at ACS Cobham International School to decide the 2016 victors.

This year’s Problem Solving Challenge has been kindly supported by Allianz, Give-It-Away, The Manly Trust, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, The Armourers and Brasiers Company and the Institution of Chemical Engineers. Their support has allowed SATRO to host 62 schools, reaching over 900 students; enabling them to develop their team working, problem solving and time management skills, as well as have fun whilst learning.

Students from our SATRO Problem Solving Challenge heats commented:

 “I learnt about teamwork and time management, as well as overcoming problems.”

“I learnt that trial and improvement is always the best solution. Not all things will work and it’s never too late to start again.”

"The best thing I learnt today was that more time is needed to be spent on planning because once you start making something it can be hard to change.”

Monday, 14 March 2016

SATRO Maths Challenge 2016

SATRO hosted its annual Maths Challenge across two dates at George Abbot School, Guildford on 25th February and 3rd March 2016. This after-school event is aimed at sixth form students from schools around Surrey and neighbouring counties, and challenges them to tackle mathematical problems, including concepts taught at A-Level, as well as ideas which the students might expect to meet should they continue to study maths at degree level.
In addition to the Challenge element, the students were treated to talks from staff at Unum on how studying maths at university can be an excellent choice for a career, explaining that there is far more to maths than meets the eye!
The event was sponsored by Unum, Ernest Cook Trust, Surrey County Councillor Keith Taylor and The Community Foundation for Surrey in partnership with Electronic Arts. Susan Sanderson, spokesperson for Unum, had this to say:
“It was an honour to be asked to support SATRO with their annual Maths Challenge for the third year running.  Education and supporting the development of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and employability skills of young people within our local communities is a core element of Unum’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme. Our actuaries really enjoyed the opportunity to speak to the students about their journey from University to Unum and we hope their presentation gave them some valuable insights into where a degree in maths could take them.”
The highest scoring teams from the two evenings were the Sutton Grammar School for Boys, Sutton and Tiffin School, Kingston.
83% of students who attended the event said they were more interested in studying maths at a high level as a result of participating; 93% said they had increased their understanding of how maths might be useful in a career. 

Less than 20% of students continue the study of mathematics beyond the age of 16. This comes at a time when findings from the Economic & Social Research Council report that at age 14 students today have less mathematical understanding than in the 1970s.

How do I find a good Apprentice? Apprenticeships Week 14th - 18th March 2016

How do I find a good Apprentice?

The simple answer is to volunteer for SATRO! But why would that help you find a good Apprentice?

In July 2015, Minted Box began its first year-long apprenticeship with now 18-year-old Will Wright who left Ashcombe School in Dorking to learn more about something he is genuinely passionate about; Web Development. “As it happened, we found Will at a school event we were at,” says Minted Box Director Iain Bell.

This particular event involved Minted Box Head Developer James Alvarez-Buylla visiting Will’s school for ‘Career Speed Dating’. Students would sit in a big hall and business owners would rotate around, giving the students 5 minutes to guess what their job was and a further 5 minutes to talk and ask questions. “Everyone at school knew me as the guy who builds websites because I did it in my free time. So at the end of the event I got a card from James and I emailed him for advice, he turned around and offered an apprenticeship which turned out to be for the best!” said Will.

“Will was 17 at the time so we were keen not to encourage him to jump ship but we put the apprenticeship offer on the table if he wanted it and that really worked,” said Iain.
“The apprenticeship scheme is aimed at creating a rounded individual and it’s up to us as a company to make the whole environment and deal attractive enough as we've invested time into them. But Will is learning enough other things that he could take them elsewhere,” said Iain. For Will, the offer presented to him was perfect: “It turned out my AS grades were really bad. I failed my AS Levels but I was good at computers and I was good at websites, I just wasn't good in the academic sense.” “It really is different going straight from school and I stay in touch with some people from school and they are saying that A2s are really hard and I'm sitting here saying, I'm just having fun at work in a company whilst getting paid to do it.”

Minted Box really helped support Will as he knows he can ask whatever question comes up: “You can get what you need. You can get an answer that doesn't get tied up in an email chain somewhere. You just turn around and ask.”
“It’s quite cool that I'm actually involved in a big project and it's Vodafone! I was in school 2 months ago and now I'm working with Vodafone. Something is wrong here! Vodafone are a huge multi-national company, and it’s like. I'm building their website! So it's quite amazing.”

This apprenticeship has also allowed James to push Will out of his comfort zone: “I'm not a very talkative person and I wouldn't be doing the things I'm doing by myself. It's the fact that James is going: ‘Here, try this, try this.’ If I have James' approval I'm more than happy to give something a shot because he trusts me enough to do it and that's enough for me to think, ok I can do it then.”

If you are interested in volunteering for SATRO or getting involved in any of our events, contact us via or visit our website for more information

Thursday, 10 March 2016

TOP TEN PIECES OF CAREER ADVICE - National Careers Week 2016

1. Study and work in whatever seemingly unrelated areas you are interested in, even if it's just a hobby. That way, when your dream job/business comes up, you'll be perfectly and uniquely qualified for it.                                    - Sarah Jansen, writer and editor

2. Important, exciting careers aren't linear or clearly defined.    
                                                                                - Anonymous  

3. Don't be better, be different. You might not have the exact experience listed on the job description, but if you can show how your unique skills would better suit the company, you have a better shot than someone who is a more technical match.
                                                                              - John Fawkes, Blogger and Career Coach

4. You can learn a lot hanging out by the printer. 
                                                                              - Anonymous

5. You don't get ahead by doing your job well - you get ahead by making new things happen that weren't a part of your job description.        
                                                                             - Victor Wong, CEO of PaperG

6. Attitude > Aptitude.                                        - Anonymous

7. Your main goal at work should be to learn and contribute. Success and promotion will follow from there.                                            - Laura Cooke

8. Talk openly about your failures. People will respect and trust you if they see that you're taking risks and aren't ashamed to learn from them.
                                                                              - Mira Zaslove

9. The best job for you won't be ready at the exact time you are 'ready'. You have to be open to and searching for opportunity all the time.                        
                                                                              - John Fawkes, Blogger and Career Coach

10. Ultimately, your career is largely a concept that exists in your mind. What you really have is a series of jobs, strung together, that form a story you are in charge of writing.
                                                                              - Blaine Lee Pardoe

For more tips and information about career opportunities in Surrey, join SATROclub. Register by emailing

Monday, 7 March 2016

SATROclub - National Careers Week 2016

Why not sign up for SATROclub as part of National Careers Week 2016?

SATROclub is a free service providing monthly updates to young people, their parents and careers advisors promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) careers in the South East region. SATROclub works with over a hundred local companies and colleges promoting STEM opportunities like work experience, apprenticeships, training and jobs. 

Surrey has many businesses who offer exciting and innovative careers for people interested in STEM. However, many of these have difficulties in attracting applicants. SATROclub aims to bridge the gap between businesses and young people in Surrey.

If you would like to register for SATROclub, email

To find out how you or your company can get involved, or for more information, email

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

STEMalive! Inspirational speaker - Stefanie Kohl, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd

STEMalive! events are a collaboration between educational charity, SATRO and Dr Elaine Hickmott of EH Enterprises. The events are designed to bring together STEM professionals and students in Years 11, 12 & 13 in a supportive environment to have cool conversations and be inspired by real career stories and insights in science, technology, engineering and maths. 

The next event is taking place on Thursday 10th March at St Peter's School, Guildford. We already have four STEM speakers confirmed! Over the last few weeks, we have been blogging a short bio for each of our speakers. 

Up last, but certainly not least, is Stefanie Kohl!

Stefanie Kohl
Systems Engineer
Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd

Stefanie did her A-Levels in Physics and Mathematics and, following a gap year, she enrolled in a 5-year Mechanical Engineering course at the TU Dresden in Germany. She later specialised in space systems engineering and did various internships and student exchanges in Germany, Sweden and Holland.

After finishing university with ‘Diplom Ingenieur’ (equivalent to a ‘Masters’ degree) she went to Holland to work for the European Space Agency as a young graduate. There she worked in the Concurrent Design Facility on feasibility studies for future missions. After this 15-month placement she accepted a job as systems engineer at SSTL in Guildford, where she has been working for five years.

Stefanie is currently the lead systems engineer of a three satellite constellation which was launched in July 2015. She has worked on the project from the beginning to hand over to the customer which was a unique and amazing opportunity.

SSTL Website:                      
SSTL on Twitter:                            @SurreySat
Stefanie on LinkedIn:          

STEMalive! is FREE for schools to attend – Contact

Engineers share your knowledge and experience with us – Contact