As well as sparking excitement in STEMM, we want to encourage young scientists to look at the STEMM industry as a future career prospect.

Disabled children face multiple disadvantages in education, careers, and life skills:

  • The employment rate of those with learning disabilities continues to drop and currently stands at just 6%in England.
  • Disabled people are 3 times as likely to have no qualifications.

Many ‘disabilities’ are in fact advantageous in certain areas of the STEMM industry e.g. the skill of having fine attention to detail and comfort in repetition, common to those with autism, are key skills of a successful coder.

Therefore, we created a Work Inspiration programme. From visits to the Science Museum in London, to Aerospace in Bristol we love inspiring young scientists by showing them STEMM in action. The group also completes an accessibility audit – sharing their thoughts on how to make the setting more accessible to disabled guests. This enables the group to feel they have made a worthwhile contribution and help improve the experience for future disabled visitors or staff.

“15% of our school leavers will be accessing social care packages and 85% of our leavers have applied to college provision where courses will continue to develop both life skills and employability skills as their journey into adulthood continues. Lightyear’s Work Inspiration Days are a brilliant way for a large number of SEN students to get a taste of a range of job roles and by working as a group. Experiences such as these play a big role and are shared during college interviews. It’s a great way to boost confidence and inspire our young people.” Joanne Payne, Transitions Coordinator, New Fosseway School, Bristol.

Visiting the Science Museum in London
We sent 6 budding scientists to Wonderlab at the Science Museum to check it out and present their thoughts on any improvements that could be made for disabled visitors. They met Susan Raikes, Director of Learning and came up with brilliant suggestions such as braille on exhibits, warnings before loud noises, video tours you can see before you visit and a quiet zone. They had great fun trying out orbits in the space zone, playing with the gravity well, chemistry fun at the bubble bar and zooming down friction slides in the forces zone. They topped off the visit by eating space ice-cream!

“You’ll be pleased to hear that we are making some progress with your recommendations. We have introduced a warning about the tesla coil in Wonderlab and are having large print books produced for in there too. We are looking at creating sensory calming kits like the Torquay ones for all our museums and will be talking to our Early Birds and Sensory Astronights families about what would be of most use to them to be inside. We’ve also just yesterday trialled a mobiloo shared with our neighbours at the Natural History Museum!” Susan Raikes, Director of Learning, Science Museum Group

Post-16 students’ trip to Aerospace Bristol
We visited Aerospace Bristol with a group of 20 post-16 students from New Fosseway Special School. Having had great fun exploring the exhibits, met the Education team, including Graham, a retired engineer who’d worked on Concorde! We had chance to ask lots of questions about their jobs and gave our suggestions for improvements to make Aerospace even better and accessible to all. Ideas included more tactile elements, brighter lighting on stairs and props/costumes to help us imagine what it’d be like to be an astronaut or pilot!

“Aerospace Bristol really enjoyed having the Lightyear Foundation visit us. The staff were so supportive with the group and the approach toward the whole day was inclusive and inspiring. The group asked lots of fantastic questions and gave us a really helpful insight into how we can improve our centre to be more accessible to those with disabilities. We would love to have them visit again!” Katherine Martin, The Learning Team, Aerospace Bristol.

PROPS visit Ashton Court Miniature Railway 
Our latest Work Inspiration Trip was to the Bristol Society of Model and Experimental Engineers with a group of young adults from the learning disability employment charity PROPS. We visited the Ashton Court miniature railway and learnt about pressure, pistons and even how to build our own steam locomotive!

The Freedom Group visit Boardman Performance Centre 
We took a show stopping trip to Boardman Performance Centre, Evesham to learn about sport science and aerodynamics! Before the trip a quarter of the group said science wasn’t for them but afterwards, 100%! We learnt about the different STEM jobs within the Centre including physiologists, biomechanists, aerodynamicists and technicians plus other roles including centre manager, retail assistants, media and the cleaning team. 73% were interested to find out more and 60% were keen to work somewhere like Boardman. As a result of the trip, the Freedom Group said they’d consider science choices at college or apply for work experience in science, find out more about bikes, go cycling and look for science in everyday life!

Facebook HQ with Woodfield College
‪We enjoyed a transformational day at the vibrant Facebook HQ with a group of students from Woodfield College, inspiring jobs in tech for those with SEN. The trip was kindly hosted by Workplace by Facebook and certainly made an impact, with students feeding back “if you like something, go for it!”, “the best day of my life” and “Facebook is about connecting people.”
Having met Security Engineer Tom and Customer Success Manager Hannah amongst other employees, teacher Lucy reported the group talked about the visit non-stop on the way home, asking lots of questions about the range of jobs available. Several students confidently stated they wanted a job in technology because of the visit and they’re already thinking about next steps including tech choices at college and work experience.

Underfall Yard and M Shed
We had an incredible Maritime themed Work Inspiration Trip, visiting 2 STEMM workplaces. First up was Underfall Boatyard to learn all about boat building, dams and water systems. We also learned about hydraulic power and had a go in the ‘human accumulator’!

Then we were off to M Shed, for a special behind the scenes tour of some of the museum’s most treasured collections. Our harbour-side learnings sparked curiosity into STEMM jobs, such as becoming a shipwright or working in a museum, and 62% of the group wanted to pursue work experience in these areas. After the trip, the number of students that thought science was for them had trebled! Huge thanks to the fantastic team at both Underfall Boatyard and M Shed – your passion was contagious!

Next up…
We have lots of exciting trips coming up, including; a veterinary surgery, a brewery, the National Composites Centre and the National Physics Laboratory! If you know or work for a STEM business or visitor attraction and would like to host a Work Inspiration Trip, please get in touch with