Two Boys Dressed as Nerds Smiling with Mind Reading Helmets

10 more unusual STEM careers

What’s science without a good challenge? Lots of scientists thrive on solving challenges in the real world: finding possible solutions to world hunger, discovering cures for rare diseases, exploring the mysteries of the universe. Scientists grapple with new and exciting challenges every day. It’s what makes STEM so diverse and exciting, offering endless career opportunities that no list can quantify. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try! Following on from our post on 10 Unusual STEM Careers, we thought we’d make a list of another ten. Here we go:


Fragrance chemist

Fragrance chemists are scientists who specialise in the study of odour molecules and how these molecules can be used to make scents and perfumes. Their jobs include testing and developing a fragrance for perfumes, soaps, lotions and other toiletries. You do need more than just a nose for the job through – most fragrance chemists need a qualification in chemistry and/or biochemistry, and often have high-level degrees, such as a Master’s or PhD.



Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster might be the stuff of legend, but cryptozoologists are very real. These people study to try to detect the presence of cryptids – animals that are considered to be long extinct or maybe even mythical. Before you scoff, we’ll have you know that cryptozoology has contributed to discovering some very valuable species – animals such as giant squids, Komodo dragons and okapi were all once considered creatures of legend but have since been proven to exist. To be a cryptozoologist, you need a degree in zoology or biology and the willingness to travel long distances to remote locations in pursuit of clues. The good news is that if you do discover a previously unknown species, you can name it whatever you like!


Cybersecurity analyst

If the latest WannaCrypt ransomware attack has taught us anything, it’s the importance of cybersecurity analysts – information security professionals who are in charge of monitoring and safeguarding computer networks, sensitive information and proprietary data from hackers and malware. To be a cybersecurity analyst requires a degree in computer science, information technology or another computer technology-related field.



Aquarists are professionals who care and maintain marine life in aquariums and marine conservation centres. They can specialise in a number of different areas, including safely breeding creatures in captivity, creating and maintaining aquatic exhibits and shows, training sea life, and educating the public about sea life. To work as an aquarist, you need a degree in either marine biology or zoology and a compulsory scuba diving qualification, as much of the job involves underwater activities. That alone makes the job fun!



If studying a volcano doesn’t sound exciting enough, just think of all the travel to exotic places or the importance of saving lives by predicting volcanic eruptions. Volcanologists are specialised geologists who study the patterns of volcanoes. But how can you study something that’s spewing lava, ash and poisonous gas? Well, you certainly don’t climb inside it. Volcanologists study a variety of ash and rock samples, simulate controlled explosions that mimic volcanic activity, and even listen to the gurgles of a volcano. Most volcanologists are geologists with an extensive knowledge of geophysics and geochemistry, alongside a qualification in either oceanography (most volcanoes are formed in the ocean) or meteorology.

Environmental specialist

Environmental specialists collect and study samples of soil and water to determine the level and quantity of pollutants present in the samples. Most environmental specialists need degrees in environmental science, biology or chemistry. It’s an environmental specialist’s job to determine the effects of pollutants on animal, plant and human life. What’s more is that Forbes magazine rated environmental specialists as being in one of the best-paid green jobs.

Snake milker

First things first – yes, it is a real job. But no – snakes do not produce milk. This line of work does require a STEM qualification, no small amount of skill and an awful lot of courage, though, as what these people are doing is extracting the snake’s venom. Snake milkers extract venom from the fangs of live, highly poisonous snakes such as rattlesnakes, asps, copperheads and pythons. Snake venom is highly medicinal and can be used to create antidotes for snake bite poisoning, but also for treating Alzheimer’s disease, clotting disorders and even cancer. Naturally, a job this dangerous requires a lot of skill and in-depth knowledge on how to keep snakes, handle them safely, and extract their venom. Most snake milkers get extensive training and almost all have degrees in herpetology or biology. It’s a dangerous career, but it’s also incredibly important.


Nuclear engineer

As the name suggests, nuclear engineers design, operate and maintain nuclear reactors and plants. They also implement procedures that allow the safe disposal of nuclear waste and ensure that every nuclear plant has safety measures in place in case of a leak. All in all, it’s a highly dangerous and important job and one that requires degrees in advanced mathematics and engineering.


Urban grower

With the going-green movement gathering momentum, more and more green jobs are becoming available. Green jobs focus on finding sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives, like growing local produce within cities – urban growers, for example, grow organic fruits and vegetables on rooftop gardens that can be supplied to local communities and restaurants. Not only does this encourage more people to eat healthily, but it also reduces burning fossil fuels for the transportation of goods. In addition to this, urban rooftop gardens also lend some much-needed green to cities, insulate buildings and improve air quality. While it’s not necessary to have a qualification in ecological studies, biology or botany is essential to have a working knowledge of both. Planning and maintaining a rooftop garden needs a good understanding of gardening, conservation methods and ecology. The perks, of course, are many: you’re growing your own food, conserving nature and the environment, giving back to the community, and actually making a difference.

Cosmetic scientist

Ever wondered who’s behind all those shampoos, creams and makeup products that hit the beauty shelves? Cosmetic scientists are the people who make sure that the products we use not only smell and feel good, but are also safe for us to use. Some might work on the formulation of new cosmetics, while others might focus on improving the performance of the current product. If you work with a smaller company, you would often see a product right through from its formulation to its launch. So, what do you need to be a cosmetic scientist? A creative flair over a strong background in chemistry and some serious laboratory skills. After all, all beauty products are products of good chemistry.

Coding: from telepathy to living life on the edge

Generally, telepathy, automated cars and the tricorder are considered to be works of science fiction. Yet even as you read this, all three concepts are being set up for trials in the real world. Facebook is currently recruiting coders to work alongside neuroscientists on various projects at Building 8, a lab unit that intends to develop software allowing us to control computers with our brains. The UK has just pledged £100 million in a bid to be the first country in developing driverless cars, and Oxbotica – the company building the software to operate these cars – has already set up test drives to start in 2019. The tricorder – a Star Trek device held over the body to give an instant diagnosis of any illness – is now a thing of reality. Two firms, in the US and Taiwan, are competing to develop such a product, with clinical trials already taking place for both the entrants.


The image of the coder as a socially awkward loner isn’t something that anyone would associate with either of these projects. And yet coding is integral for the success of all three – not to mention many thousands more projects currently being trialled and developed. And as if working on exciting, cutting-edge material wasn’t enough, coders are now the popular kids on the block, working flexible hours and enjoying substantial pay packages. The divergence of technology into new uncharted territories means that coders are going to be in high demand for a while, too.


So, what is coding? Simply put, it’s linguistic skill in areas of computing language and since code is the building block for the vast majority of technologies out there, from phones to cars to social media, coding is fast becoming an essential skill in the job market.


A career in coding is a ticket past the pearly gates of technical heaven. When Facebook advertised for a brain-computer interface engineer to work on building computers to translate humans’ “silent speech”, the job responsibilities included the use of computers and artificial intelligence to work with neuroimaging and electrophysiological data. In its recent developer conference in San Jose, the company also declared plans to build software allowing people to read each other’s thoughts through touch alone, using pressure points on the skin to relay information. In order to develop this technology, Facebook needs a number of software engineers, and particularly coders, to work with neuroscientists.


Elsewhere in the UK, driverless cars are getting ready to be tested on the roads. But who drives a driverless car? A coder does – or, to be specific, the software written by that coder does. And let’s not forget the tricorder from Star Trek. Coders’ jobs can also involve an element of risk, when they write programs to safeguard sensitive information on home security or the economy against cyber attacks. Ethical hacking, or white hat hacking, is a job where coders are hired by organisations such as the government, social media platforms, or financial institutions to test their security by attempting to hack their firewalls.


Current enrollment numbers suggest a serious skills shortage in this industry. Cybersecurity employs about 58,000 experts, but there have been warnings from the Committee of Public Accounts that hiring the right people is somewhat of a challenge. What’s more worrying is that this shortage could also seriously undermine national cybersecurity. In the UK, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport recently invested £20 million in a pilot program designed to train schoolchildren in cybersecurity with an aim to recruit them.


When it comes to being seen as a national hero, you know this is an age where coders are seriously cool.

10 ways in which the best teachers use technology in the classroom

Teachers are constantly pushed towards new pedagogies in order to improve student performance. For most teachers, who are already overburdened and overworked, maneuvering the jungle of new buzzwords and learning theories can be an exhausting task.


Integrating technology into your teaching, however, isn’t so hard. In fact, research shows that teachers who use ICT to deliver lessons in the classroom work up to 4.6 hours fewer than those who don’t. If used efficiently, a film can save teachers several hours in lesson planning, while simultaneously relieving students of cognitive overload.


Here are 10 ways in which the best teachers use tech in the classroom:


1. Innovate or Compliment

Educational videos can be used to complement traditional teaching in the classroom or assigned as homework to reinforce classroom lessons. Twig videos (for example) are tailored to school curriculums across the world; you can find the topic you want to teach in a matter of seconds.


2. Flip the classroom

If you’re nervous about teaching a class or just plain tired, try flipping the classroom. Assign an educational video as homework for the students to view at home. Teachers can then use this assignment to open up a discussion in the classroom, facilitating student interaction. Flipping the classroom encourages students to understand and process knowledge independently, while allowing each student to learn at his or her own pace by pausing, rewinding, forwarding and replaying the video as many times as they like.


3. Experiment

Science teachers know only too well the complications of conducting science experiments. Not only is it a task to gather a large group of students in a lab to demonstrate a precipitate reaction or the dissection of a cow’s lung, but there is also the concern that a student might break a test tube or pass out at the smell of blood.

Video allows teachers to circumvent these problems by choosing to view videos of experiments that are too complicated or even impossible to conduct in a lab. Students benefit from watching the experiments being conducted without missing out on any of the practical knowledge.


4. Distance learning

Teachers can use video conferencing to teach distance learning programs. Or they can really go the distance, and contact other teachers around the globe to do a collaborative classroom project.


5. Digital storytelling

Digital storytelling combines traditional storytelling techniques with digital multimedia such as images, audio and video. Teachers can also use ready-made digital films or stories by companies like Twig as anticipatory sets to engage students at the beginning of the class. Research proves that the use of anticipatory sets at the beginning of a lesson helps engage students in the learning process, while also linking existing knowledge and new material.


6. Class trip!

School budget cuts giving the class trip the axe again? You can still take your students on a virtual class trip. Video allows educators to bring the real world into the four walls of their classroom. Teachers can take their class on impossible class trips through videos, whether to the Sahara desert to learn adaptation of the cactus, or to deepest outer space to see a nebula.


7. Skype call an expert

Teachers can use video conferencing to request programs from “content experts”.

This way, students get to learn something from an expert in the field; this also breaks up the routine of normal classroom hours. For example, New Market Elementary teachers participated in a video conference with Adora Svitak called “Personal Narrative Writing: Acing Your State Writing Assessment & Beyond” in order to help their students with their writing skills.


8. Game time

The myths around video games are now changing. More and more research shows how games, when implemented properly, are effective in helping children develop problem solving, spatial awareness and reasoning skills, along with good reflexes and lateral thinking. A lot of game developers are now developing educational games like the Angry Birds games to help young children think creatively. So go on – be everyone’s favourite teacher and assign a videogame as class activity or homework. They’ll love you for it.


9. Group activity

Let’s face it: some days, school is just hard for both teachers and students. These are the days when teachers can play a video and get the class to discuss what they saw afterwards. This sort of exercise is great for developing reasoning and thinking skills. It also helps students interact with each other, discuss and share ideas, and have fun doing it.


10. Fun

Video is an easy way to incorporate some fun into the learning process. It allows teachers to facilitate student participation in a particularly difficult or unresponsive class. Watching an educational video can also be a good icebreaker at the start of term, or even just to break the traditional teaching routine every so often. It makes learning fun and enjoyable for the students and, by extension, makes teaching fun and simpler for teachers.


CLIL and why it matters

If you’re raising your eyebrow in arched confusion right now, wondering what on earth CLIL is, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.


CLIL stands for Content and Language Integrated Learning. What that means in real life is learning another (content) subject such as physics or geography through the medium of a foreign language as well as learning a foreign language by studying a content-based subject. In short, content subjects are taught and learned in a language which is not the mother tongue of the learners.


So why is CLIL important?

In CLIL lessons, the foreign language becomes the means of learning content. Students feel more motivated to learn the language because they are actually doing something with it, rather than dealing in some of the rather tired phrases and topics that old-fashioned language lessons tend to turn up. The focus is on language acquisition rather than enforced learning, i.e. building up language competency through using it to explore and discuss curriculum topics, leading to more natural and sophisticated communicative skills over time.


CLIL helps with:

  • Improving overall and specific language competence.
  • Preparing for future studies and/or working life.
  • Developing multilingual interests and attitudes.
  • Diversifying methods & forms of classroom teaching and learning.
  • Increasing learner motivation.
  • Integrating language into the broader curriculum.
  • Long-term learning: students become academically proficient in a language after 5-7 years in a good bilingual program. This is because CLIL focuses on fluency rather than accuracy, treating errors as a natural part of language learning.
  • Introducing a wider cultural context to content lessons
  • Accessing International Certification and enhancing the school profile.


There are other advantages too, which extend outside the classroom, making CLIL relevant within a global context.


The rise of the global economy means different countries interact with each other on a daily basis. Even with English as the main language, there is often a need for communicative skills in a second or third language. Besides, some countries have very strict policies regarding the use of regional languages within their borders.


Learning and knowing other languages often promotes feelings of trust and helps in better communication. It’s one of the reasons why the European Commission has been looking into the state of bilingualism and language education since the 1990s, and has a clear vision of a multilingual Europe in which people can function in two or three languages.


Interested in knowing more about CLIL? We are happy to help. We just won the BETT award for our CLIL digital resources and we’re feeling even more inspired than usual to promote all things Content and Language Integrated Learning.


Email to let us know your thoughts on CLIL.

High Tech High: Technology in the Classroom

What do you call a school that uses no textbooks, no examinations and non-traditional syllabus? School of the Future? Not quite.


High Tech High is very much a school of the present using methods that are on par with the needs of 21st century children.


The problem with traditional schooling is that it is outdated. Students are bored and they cannot see a connection between what they learn in school to what they want to do in life. So how to get students to enjoy learning? How do we get them inspired?


The idea behind using technology in schools began with the intention of addressing this problem. Our world is moving at the speed of science where new discoveries and new technologies set the trends and standards of everyday life. There is a rising need to not just integrate technology with traditional teaching methods but to use it to create new ones. High Tech High is a good example of such a schooling method. The school uses “the pedagogy of technology i.e. group-taught, team-performed and experiential-applied, and integrates that to the content of academia i.e. numeracy and literacy.”


Unlike traditional schools using technology, High Tech high does not use technology to teach students, but allows students to learn through technology. Teachers guide students in learning various subjects through project work, building solutions (this is where the engineering side comes in) that will ultimately solve an existing problem within the community. So far the school has a good success rate where 99.5% students have gone on to enrol into college.


According, to High Tech High’s CEO Larry Rosenstock there is an integral lesson to be learnt from technology: why is it that a child, regardless of its socio-economic background, when left alone with technology, whether it is a tablet or video game, will find a way to operate the gadget, and go back to it time and time again despite the various failures and frustrations that might first occur in operating the device? There is no denying that technology has an addictive quality to it. It integrates interactive, practical, hands on learning and provides a basis for peer to peer bonding (have you seen that new app? Did you hear about that new game?) And if the success of High Tech High is anything to go by, perhaps there is a lesson in incorporating technology with education.


If you want to share how you use tech in your classroom or know how you could integrate it your lessons, you can contact Lucy Jackson at

Reach Out Reporter goes LIVE!

It was a busy week for the Twig World team last week as we pressed “go live” on our latest offering in partnership with Imperial College London, Reach Out Reporter.


Reach Out Reporter is an online primary science news service which helps teachers integrate topical science into everyday teaching and learning. Reach Out Reporter engages primary school children with the wonders of the world around them using high-quality films and other learning resources. The service is updated weekly with new content and is available free of charge to all primary school teachers across the UK.


So far, we’ve looked at space junkanimal mummiesdino craters and much more!


On the latest news update :

  • Record temperatures in the Arctic
  • Lightning mapping satellite launch
  • A tool making cockatoo


You can follow the stories on Facebook or Twitter, or sign up for the weekly newsletter and get the latest news, straight to your inbox!


Find out more about Reach Out Reporter.