26 Jun 2020

Keeping Interested in STEM

Each year at Birmingham Museums we welcome over 60 people on one or two week work experience placements across a number of our museums and historic properties. Our programme helps introduce the working world to participants and to support them to develop skills and knowledge. Given the current situation we have taken the decision to cancel all work experience placements at Birmingham Museums in 2020, but we are planning to open our 2021 programme for applications in spring next year.

In the meantime however if you are interested in working in STEM we understand how daunting it can be for you to plan your future at this time. This blog contains some ideas and suggestions for you to develop your skills, gain insight into the working world and to help you to keep pursuing your interests in STEM subjects and museums.

Online Tours 

Many museums around the world have virtual tours available, zoos and aquariums are often live streaming too and you can access Birmingham Museums Trust virtual tours and activities on our Bringing our Museums to You page.

Talks and Podcasts 

Why not try listening to a few talks and podcasts? The Natural History Museum are streaming talks by their Nature Live Scientists twice a week here. Bristol Zoo has moved their Field Conservation Lectures online.

There are lots of Science based podcasts, BBC podcasts include The Infinite Monkey Cage (Brian Cox) which focuses on Astronomy and The Life Scientific which interviews scientists.

Scientific American 60-second science and RadioLab cover a wide range of subjects in short  snippets.

Follow Scientists 

If you have a career in mind, follow professionals in your field on social media. Many scientists share their research, highlight talks and sometimes run Q&As. 

  • Nicole Stott, retired NASA astronaut and Aquanaut now combines art with science to create amazing work based on her experiences. Instagram: Astro_nicole
  • Cory Richards, a National Geographic Photographer. Instagram: Coryrichards
  • Roma Agrawal, Structural Engineer, helped to build the Shard in London: @RomaTheEngineer
  • Ester Odekunle, Senior Scientist Antibody Engineer at GSK: @estOdek
  • Dr David Shiffman, Marine Conservation Biologist: @whysharksmatter
  • Dr Dean Lomax, Paleontologist. Ichthyosaur expert: @Dean_R_Lomax
  • Each week a different scientist takes over to share their work and life over twitter: @realscientists
  • A dog with a keen interest in science: @bunsenbernerbmd .Also has a podcast: Sciencepawdcast.
  • Julie Hecht – Dog Science! Twitter: @DogSpies
  • Prof Brian Cox - Celebrity Astrophysicist. Twitter: @profbriancox
  • Prof Chris Stringer – Paleoanthropology (Human Evolution). Twitter: @ChrisStringer65
  • Dr Karen James – Biologist, Climate Change, Botany. Twitter: @kejames

Online Courses 

There are hundreds of courses available on FutureLearn website, most are free to join and are varying in length. Courses are usually split into manageable weekly chunks. There are many STEM based courses and also important skills based courses such as online learning.

Learn a New Skill 

A hugely helpful skill in so many STEM careers is coding. Completing a short course on FutureLearn such as Computer Programming for Everyone or even a simple app like Grasshopper by Google which teaches basic Javascript, can give you a head start and shows a keenness to learn.


You can improve observational skills by taking part in research projects right now. Citizen Science helps scientists explore huge data sets. Many projects can be found on this project website . No prior knowledge or training needed, you simply complete visual tasks online such as identifying antibiotic resistance in petri dishes. Fantastic experience for education or work applications.

If you are interested in working in the Arts read our Keeping Interested in the Arts blog post.