We were delighted to host the 8th “Skirting Science” event for the fourth consecutive year, last Thursday when over 150 female students from secondary schools in the local area attended. The girls who came from a host of schools and colleges in North Somerset, Somerset and Bristol, were chosen for their potential to progress to university and study a science subject and who perhaps had not considered a science related career.
Skirting Science aims to address the gender imbalance in certain science careers. It helps girls make informed decisions about these careers; not those based on misconceptions such as all scientists work in labs. It gives the girls a chance to meet science role models and learn from their experiences. They find out that scientists are normal people with interests. This award winning event brings together Year 9 girls and science professionals and is organised by the local members of Soroptimist International. Each science professional delivers a workshop that provides a hands-on experience of their career.
The day was supported by local dignitaries Alan Peak, Mayor of Weston-super-Mare, and the Lady Mayoress, Jacqueline Peak, who were delighted to be invited again to this innovative event. The keynote speaker for the day was Lucy Ackland of Renishaw Engineering. Lucy talked about her wish from age 13 to be an engineer. She saw an apprenticeship with Renishaw being offered so when her teacher said she disapproved she applied and was accepted. Lucy is still with the company and now works on 3D metal printing and she showed a picture of a bicycle made of titanium created this way which weighed only 1.4kg.
There were 13 workshops all supported by businesses large and small. Nicola Hodges from the NHS ran one called ”A Scientist’s View of Disease” looking at a patient’s symptoms and pathology results and trying to diagnose the patient’s disease. One of the most popular workshops was called “Messing with Magnets and Motors!” run by Rebecca Bound from Renishaw who 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. Emily (13) said “I really enjoyed the day, there were lots of things I hadn’t realised I would enjoy such as the motor and magnets session”. Charlotte (14) added “There were lots of different topics and we got to meet lots of different people from industry.” Maddie (14) thought “taking part in the experiments alongside others with the same interests was great and there was a really good atmosphere” and Alyx (14) has been inspired “to do forensic science at college”.