Last week we held a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) event for pupils from two local secondary schools, at our digital hub in Newcastle.

The aim of the day – which was held in partnership with MyKindaFuture and Capgemini  – was to help change young people’s perceptions about working in technology, and encourage them to think about the opportunities unlocked by studying STEM subjects. These subjects are so important because they touch every aspect of our lives, including the services we deliver for the public.

Keith Dickson, Head of Universal Credit Live Service Digital Delivery, opened the event by asking for a show of hands from pupils who were interested in working in the digital sector in future. With only two raised hands out of 24, we knew we had our work cut out!


The marshmallow challenge

oe Harvey, one of our scrum-masters, ran one of the day’s hands-on sessions – the marshmallow challenge. It involved the pupils working as a team to construct the tallest freestanding structure using only spaghetti, tape, string and a single marshmallow.

Joe explained, “The challenge gives a great introduction to agile principles – which is one of the ways we develop our digital services in DWP. It shows how working in a team to approach a problem with limited materials and with limited time encourages innovation, creativity, collaboration and the value of early prototyping.

“It was so interesting to see how the children (and teachers!) went through a full spectrum of emotions during this exercise – from failure to competiveness – and we ended up with some really inventive creations.”