The afternoon of Tuesday 14th February – We love STEM day at NHSG – saw scores of excited girls gather in the Dining Area amongst balloons and heart-themed displays, ready with declarations of their love. But this was a departure from more conventional 14th February traditions, and the enthusiasm was all reserved for STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Throughout the day, regular Science and Mathematics lessons were replaced with special workshops and inspiring visitors. Carol Davenport (Think Physics NE) delivered a hands-on session on “Scalable Space”, where she demonstrated the size of the solar system by comparing “planets” ranging from grapes to grains of sugar to a “sun” football and using googlemaps and the position of the school in Jesmond as a visual reference of distance. An exciting ending to the workshop, the chance to hold meteorites (“the oldest thing you’ll ever touch”) certainly made a lasting impression!
Peter Hoare and Anne Willis from Northumbria University led workshops entitled “Chemistry Smells” in which girls identified a number of household substances by smell, then made molecular models of their favourite smell using molymod.
Some lucky girls had the opportunity to meet David Featonby and his “Fantastic Feats” during their Science lessons. They were challenged by David to predict the outcome of a number of experiments (“Can you blow up two balloons at once?” “What will happen to an object attached to the bottom of a stretched-out spring when you drop the spring?”) before seeing the answer played out in a series of demonstrations.
After school, We love STEM day got into full swing as exhibitors from Science, Technology and Engineering companies from across the North East displayed their latest innovations, giving girls an insight into the opportunities in STEM related careers, as well as a chance to have a go at some of their newest inventions.
Among the exhibitors were Newcastle University School of Electrical Engineering showcasing the latest developments in Bionic hand technology; ZeroLight the market leader in virtual reality platforms for the automotive industry whose UK headquarters are in Newcastle, exhibited their pioneering virtual reality headsets.
Pupils too exhibited their STEM related projects they have been working on in School. Among them were Molli James and Liv Urwin, members of the school’s F1 Challenge Team. The girls displayed their award winning car design, which won best entry and fastest car in last month’s F1 Challenge competition designed to create the fastest F1 car of the future. Both girls have their eyes set on a career in Engineering. Molli said: “I am so excited about the ‘We Love STEM’ activities in school. STEM shows how the tiniest idea makes the biggest difference and I want to be able to say in the future that I have done something to help.” Coming from a very ‘techy’ family, Liv Urwin also plans to become an Engineer. She said, “I think ‘We Love STEM’ events and exhibitions are a great idea to help girls get more involved in this area and help girls understand the role and importance STEM is going to have in the world in the future, from Medicine and Science through to Engineering, I know I’d love to be a part of that world.” Liv Urwin’s Dad, Steve Urwin, a Technology Architect Principal Director at Accenture, teamed up with his daughter to demonstrate a robotic arm, which they have programmed to move through chat box, voice activation and gaming.
The star guest was multi-award winning physicist Jess Wade, who entertained an audience of parents, guests, teachers and girls with her inspiring lecture entitled “Plastic Fantastic”.
We love STEM day was part of a programme of events Newcastle High is organising to provide unique opportunities for the girls to learn about the developments that are happening in STEM related fields in the North East and the resulting potential career opportunities open to them.