The creators of Bright Sparks, a unique STEM education project from Theatr Clywd and Bangor University, have praised the impacts of the programme in Welsh schools with an estimated 1,200 students set to be reached by the initiative this year, an increase of 600 from last year.
Produced by Theatr Clwyd’s Creative Engagement team for Bangor University’s Reaching Wider Partnership, Bright Sparks brings the joy of theatre into the classroom to support Key Stage 2 (7-11-year-olds) get to grips with science and maths.
Brought to life by two actors from the Theatr, a ‘normal’ school science workshop is suddenly interrupted by Professor Sparky and his niece Erica. Erica wants to be a professor but so far has failed all her STEM exams. With the aid of the pupils completing various, high-energy problem-solving tasks, games and experiments, the two challenge the class to help Erica pass her exam.
The programme has been funded by the ScottishPower Foundation since 2018. Through this funding, the education initiative has extended its reach by over 50 per cent this year and expanded to include Welsh-speaking schools this year. Touring primary schools in Mid and North Wales this Autumn, the two-hour interactive workshop aims to educate, excite and inspire pupils about the STEM subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The Reaching Wider initiative is a Wales-wide scheme that aims to increase participation in higher education from groups and communities in Wales, where participation is low, by creating a wide range of study opportunities and learning pathways to higher education.
Paula Griffiths from Bangor University’s Reaching Wider Partnership was crucial to the research and development of the Bright Sparks programme. She researched new, innovative ways to deliver STEM education and discovered programmes in America that use performing arts to engage and raise aspirations with young people to consider a career in STEM.
She said: "BrightSparks is an innovative programme which ignites pupil’s passion to want to learn more about STEM. The programme encourages creativity and the importance of working together to achieve a goal. We are inundated with requests from schools to for us to go back and deliver the sessions which shows the impact it has within the classroom which wouldn’t be possible without the ScottishPower Foundation support"
Theatr Clwyd Director, Emyr John, said: "Theatr Clwyd is excited to be a part of this project, by igniting the imagination of future generations and opening their eyes to the possibilities available to them through STEM subjects. By helping to engage these young people, we hope to inspire a future Marie Curie, or a Brunel, and who knows, even the next Einstein!"
Melanie Hill, Trustee and Executive Officer of the ScottishPower Foundation, said: "Bright Sparks is a forward-thinking, exciting education programme that taps into the imagination of children to inspire learning. The research, creativity and collaboration between Theatr Clwyd and Bangor University’s Reaching Wider Partnership is admirable, and we are delighted to be supporting their work again this year, inspiring more young people in Wales into STEM careers."
Bright Sparks is directed by Theatr Clwyd’s Creative Engagement Associate Emyr John and is performed by Anni Dafydd and Sion Emyr. The project will tour to primary schools in Llangefni, Holyhead, Rhyl, Newton, Aberystwyth and Caernarfon from 16 September- 11 October 2019.
Notes for Editors:
The ScottishPower Foundation was established in 2013 and provides funding to registered charities which are involved in the advancement of education, environmental protection, citizenship and community development. The Foundation also supports organisations working in science, the arts, heritage or culture as well as the prevention of poverty and relief of disability or other disadvantages.
Director Emyr Jones (Theatr Clwyd) and Paula Griffiths (Bangor University’s Reaching Wider Partnership) are available for interview.
For more details contact: Emma King, Press and Communications Co-ordinator, Theatr Clwyd on 01352 701569 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For ScottishPower Foundation enquiries, contact: Jen Ward at Stripe Communications on 07983547727 or email@example.com