We were delighted to host the 7th “Skirting Science” event for the third consecutive year, last Thursday when over 180 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, or are considering a science related career.
Skirting Science (http://skirtingscience.wordpess.com) 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, 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.”