Skirting Science was held on June 18th 2015 at Broadoak Mathematics and Computing College for the third consecutive year when over 180 female students from secondary schools in the local area attended. After 7 years of success, the winning formula again welcomed girls from schools and colleges in North Somerset, Somerset and Bristol, who were chosen for their potential to progress to university and possibly to study a science subject. Even if these students hadn’t contemplated a science related career, the objective of the day was to raise their awareness of opportunities in STEM related careers and pre-empts the scope of the D of E report published earlier this year which requires schools to provide such inspiration to students.
The day was supported by local dignitaries Alan Peak, Deputy Mayor of Weston, and his Deputy Mayoress, Jacqueline Peak, who were delighted to be invited to this innovative event. The keynote speakers for the day were Anna Baker and Camilla Osmiani, both are PhD students in the Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science at the University of Bristol. Anna Baker described her scientific journey including doing research into soft materials that change shape. Her PhD is on both chemistry and aeronautical engineering. She is working on Hydrogels, Shape – change and Ionoprinting. On seeing the Broadoak’s Main Hall full of enthusiastic young ladies, Anna commented “I didn’t see many female scientists when I was in year 9! This day is going to be good for girls who have not had any female scientist role models thus far.” Camilla Osmiani is a structural engineer working in the field of composite materials and looking for solutions and added “It’s good to give the girls an example of what careers there are in science. For example, Engineering is one of the options.”
There were 15 workshop all supported by businesses large and small. Nicola Hodges from the NHS ran a one called ”A Scientist’s View of Disease” looking at a patient’s symptoms and pathology results and try to diagnose the patient’s disease. One of the most popular workshops was called “Messing with Magnets and Motors!” run by Dave Collingwood, Rebecca Bound and Sam Buckland from Renishaw The team explained “Motors, magnets and batteries are now fundamentals of daily life, But what can we “magic up” with them in just an hour? This hands on workshop starts with some magnetic magic and the theory behind it. Then the girls test their engineering skills as they build and race their own “toothbrush” racer!”
Everyone had an amazing day and all the girls commented about how they had learnt about jobs they had never heard of before and felt confident to consider science subjects for A Levels and beyond. Georgia Tucker (15) “I liked the variety of topics and seeing the differences. It influenced me in my college choice. I’m thinking of architecture. I found some jobs I didn’t know existed!” Naomi Race (14) “I thought it was brilliant, such interesting workshops and I made friends too! We worked as a big unit. I shall probably study biology in college.”
Soroptimist International of Weston super Mare organised this event and thank Broadoak College, all the contributors and workshop presenters, and the Skirting Science committee all of whom put a great deal of effort into making the day such a success. It was pleasing to see that Skirting Science was reported enthusiastically by representatives of University of Bristol – click here for details as well on Broadoak’s web site.