Children participating in the STEM workshops. Image: Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Children participating in the STEM workshops. Image: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

How BofAML’s STEM workshops are opening children’s minds

3 Oct 2017

Education can’t be the only way to bridge talent gaps. Sometimes, those in industry have to step in with initiatives to highlight the importance of STEM.

With more people looking at how companies are really making a difference in the world, it has now become more important than ever for those companies to take a look at themselves.

Being a great place to work isn’t necessarily just about what you do for your employees. It’s also about what you do for the community, be it at a local level or a global one.

Within Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) is a business advocacy group called Women in Technology and Operations (WIT&O).

WIT&O aims to promote and encourage female talent in its global technology and operations division. Over the past 12 years, the group has expanded to 7,500 members around the world.

In Dublin, WIT&O organises and hosts a range of events throughout the year, which align with the bank’s overarching global work streams. Through these, group members benefit by developing a range of interpersonal and communication skills, broadening their networks, and improving their event-planning and organisational skills.

Overall, the committee and participating members develop a strong sense of community and camaraderie.

STEM workshops

In August, the Dublin chapter ran its fifth STEM workshop for employees’ children, aged between seven and 13. During the workshop, the children were engaged in various activities, including an ice-breaker quiz covering STEM topics and interactive games based on STEM careers.

They were given several job titles (doctor, accountant, computer programmer etc) and had to brainstorm the subjects they thought they would need to study for each particular job, as well as consider what they felt would be the best part of each role.

The children also got a taste of cybersecurity, one of the hottest topics in STEM right now. They listened to a short talk from one of BofAML’s directors on the concept of staying safe on the internet.

Getting practical

The WIT&O group also hosted a practical Raspberry Pi exercise for the children. Kids were given the opportunity to work with Raspberry Pis and had step-by-step instructions, involving some simple coding, to perform various actions.

The children used LEDs, resistors and capacitors and succeeded in making LEDs blink, respond to body temperature and do many other things, demonstrating that coding can be fun.

They were also taught how to communicate via Morse code with torches.

Feedback wall

At the end of the workshop, the children were asked to write their feedback on sticky notes, so that the WIT&O group could review and adapt subsequent workshops.

According to BofAML, the feedback was very positive overall, with many children commenting that they would love to have a career in STEM and will be asking their parents or Santa Claus for a Raspberry Pi in December.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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