Pupils from Newcastle High School for Girls (NHSG) were given the opportunity to explore 3D printing, locomotion virtual reality, renewable energy, robotics and how to create clean water at the school’s recent STEMpowerment exhibition. The exhibition was designed to excite and inspire girls in STEM from an early age as part of the all-girl school’s ambition to tackle the gender imbalance that still exists in STEM based careers.
According to a report by the charity Engineering UK which analysed Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data, just 18% of engineering and technology students were female, compared to 57% for all degree subjects combined. Male engineering students have vastly outnumbered female students for years, with Women in STEM reporting a figure of 19% back in 2017. This puts the UK well below other countries such as India where the proportion is closer to 30%.
While NHSG has a high take up of STEM subjects at A Level, the forward-facing school remains determined to empower its pupils even further by exposing them to the opportunities open to them. Its inaugural STEMpowerment exhibition saw some of the biggest names in STEM including Proctor and Gamble, Soil Machine Dynamics, EDF Renewables, Rheinmetall BAE Systems and Cummins, alongside the universities of Newcastle, Northumbria and Nottingham, come together to share innovations, offer interactive experiences and give advice on how to progress an exciting career in STEM.
Alongside these renowned organisations, NHSG pupils also had the opportunity to present their own innovations at the exhibition including a number of Year 8 pupils who were presenting their sustainable theme park model – an entry for the Industrial Cadets outreach programme whose patron is HRH King Charles.
Michael Tippett, Head Teacher, Newcastle High School for Girls, said: “Seeing the pupils’ STEM projects exhibited alongside some of the country’s most forward-thinking organisations was truly inspirational. STEMpowerment has delivered on its aim to further develop the pupils’ confidence in STEM and enabling them to explore the exciting range of opportunities in STEM based careers.
“With STEM roles and salaries expected to be among the fastest growing we want the girls in our school to understand fully the opportunities that working in these areas will offer. STEMpowerment is just one of the ways in which we are inspiring and empowering girls at NHSG, meaning that girls attending NHSG will be much more likely to pursue careers in STEM and contribute to change-making innovations and inventions in their future careers.”
The exhibition also featured a mini lecture programme headlined by NHSG alumna and neuropharmacologist Dr Leoli Telford Cooke who has been at the forefront of drug discovery programmes for diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis.
Also among the impressive exhibitors taking part in STEMpowerment were: Alexander Battery Technologies, New College Durham / North East Institute of Technology, Canford Audio, Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Turner and Townsend and Waterstons.
NHSG intends to build on the success of the event by establishing STEMpowerment as an annual event and widening its audience.