There are plenty of myths and preconceptions surrounding STEM. The subjects in school are intimidating, career paths are “one-size fits all”, and if you want to go far, you need a PhD. Our client, Oxford Instruments NanoScience, wants to debunk these myths.
This is how the idea for STEM FEST was born. A one-day festival in Oxford aimed at Year 9s and above, hosted by our partners at Science Oxford and sponsored by Oxford Instruments, to take place during the October half-term.
The objective of the event was to inspire young people to continue studying STEM, showcase the diverse opportunities a STEM career offers, nurture a feeling of collaboration between Oxford Instruments and their customers and partners, and help facilitate the next cohort of talent into the industry - one of Oxford Instruments’ key business goals.
To achieve this, we knew we needed the three things all festivals must have: an excellent
line-up, interactive opportunities, and exceptional branding.
What we did
Starting in the spring, we worked alongside Science Oxford and Oxford Instruments to plan STEM FEST. It was important to represent the diversity of careers and people in STEM, so we facilitated speaking opportunities with a large range of industry leaders, from academia to the biggest names in the industry and the start-ups destined to revolutionise the field. Among our fantastic line-up of eight speakers were representatives from Siemens Healthineers Magnet Technology, The Geological Society, two Oxford Instruments business units, Tokamak Energy, and TFD client Quantum Dice.
At the heart of this panel of speakers, we brought BBC presenter Ayo Sokale on board to moderate the event. Ayo brought fantastic energy and experience as a Chartered Civil Engineer and STEM spokesperson, engaging with the young audience and asking tailored, enabling questions.
A pivotal part of the day was the Interactive Zone. During the first hour, three experiments run by Oxford Instruments experts were set up for students to enjoy a more hands-on experience. Experiments included operating a robot with Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology and wielding the effects of pressure changes on innocent marshmallows with NanoScience.
When it came to the branding, we wanted to be bold. We partnered with expert designers to create bespoke and eye-catching assets that strayed from the blues and greens traditionally used for STEM. Assets included promotional posters and visuals for Oxford Instruments to use internally. No festival is complete without merch, so we also had wristbands, T-shirts, tote bags, and poster designs made. Armed with these, we sourced top-quality suppliers to bring our creations to life and give out on the day to create an authentic festival feel.
Did it work?
STEM FEST exceeded our goal to showcase the exciting opportunities STEM offers young people and position Oxford Instruments as a facilitator of the ecosystem. One speaker commented how well the event had been curated, with an “extremely high standard” of STEM representatives. Attendees commented how great it was to meet people from across the company, saying that their child did not want to work anywhere else!
The Interactive Zone and giveaways brought with them great engagement. We were even told how attendees had been seen wearing their tote bags weeks after the event! Social media engagement was also high, reinforcing how important community events are in building a company’s social presence. It was important to show how Oxford Instruments is contributing to the STEM ecosystem.
Having representatives from across the business units was paramount and we achieved this, with staff from NanoScience, NanoAnalysis, and Plasma Technology attending the event - as speakers and experiment leaders. Inviting customers and partners to speak at the event also helped to nurture Oxford Instruments’ relationship with their network and reinforced the importance of community and collaboration within the industry.