Headlines: March 9th, 2009

An initiative launched this month to use social networking to push up the number of post-16 students choosing science and maths has already had more than 100,000 visitors. The initiative is part of a wider Science Technology Engineering and Maths campaign that is making us of cinema, television, radio and online advertising.

The Department of Children Schools and Families is working with Chat Moderators, leading advisers in judging contributions to social networking, and the Central Office of Information. The company is moderating pages on the networking site Bebo, which the DCSF has chosen as the platform to reach its target audience.

The pages at www.scienceandmaths.net include a range of profiles such as a games developer or a cosmetic specialist that allow the students to find out about career opportunities involving science, technology, engineering and maths and to learn more about the skills and qualifications needed for such jobs. The DCSF said a large proportion of 11-16 years old used social networking sites to communicate so the sites were an important channel to reach them. “Bebo has allowed us to tap into an already existing network to offer a deeper level of interaction and communicate our message to an engaged audience. The level of response we have had from student’s interested in STEM subjects and these roles has been very encouraging,” a spokesman said.

Chat Moderators’ are moderating ‘friends’ and comments posted on the profile pages and responding to common questions from users based on a standard set of information from each profile. More complex questions from students are sent via DCSF to the people who have been profiled so Chat Moderators can then pass individual replies to students.

Since the campaign was launched earlier this month 110,000 people have visited the site. The DCSF is now developing a campaign for 2009-10 and this is likely to continue to use digital communications.