The fascinating world of STEM

The Upper Fifth and a group of pupils from Park House School in Newbury enjoyed a packed day of STEM-related talks and workshops.

12 November 2019

The annual STEM Day is designed to engage girls in the diverse range of opportunities on offer at university and in the workplace. The day started with an inspirational keynote presentation by Mr Rob Bennett from the Bloodhound Project, a global engineering project aiming to set a new World Land Speed Record of 1000mph. Mr Bennett described the evolution of the cars involved since the very first attempts at the Land Speed Record in 1898 with an electric-powered car, and the challenges and problems that each generation of scientists and engineers has faced.

STEM Day then offered a choice of sessions run by expert speakers covering neuroscience, joint replacement, studying Medicine and addressing medication waste as well as an engineering challenge, followed by a lively Q & A session at the end of the day.

DH Alumna, Poppy MacInnes, who is in her fourth year of studying Medicine at King’s College London, shared her own experience with those considering becoming a doctor as well as giving advice on courses, career possibilities and the application process. Representatives from Stryker ran an interactive session introducing the innovative technological solutions designed by engineers and surgeons working together to overcome the bionic challenge of replacing worn-out bones and joints with 21st century materials. Inspired by Mr Bennett of the Bloodhound Project, many girls chose to join the engineering challenge workshop in which they worked in teams to design, build and test an air-powered car and race it against the other teams. Professor Donyai from the Reading School of Pharmacy posed some interesting questions in her session, ‘Saving the planet? Why binning medicines matters’ and described her department’s project to develop informatics that might one day facilitate medication reuse, decrease waste and improve the use of medicines. Neuroscientist, Sihao Lu from Imperial College London, gave a fascinating presentation on ‘pareidolia’, the tendency to see shapes and faces in inanimate objects.

Head of Physics, Mr Matthew Rivers said, “STEM Day provides a fantastic opportunity for the girls to learn first-hand about real life projects from experts working in highly specialised fields. I would like to thank all our speakers for giving up their time to share their skills, knowledge and passion for the areas they work in as well as all the members of staff who worked hard to make the event such a success. A huge thank you also to Head of Science, Mrs Christina Pugsley for doing such a tremendous job of organising this event.”

With a strong performance across the board in Science and Mathematics in both I/GCSE and A Level examinations and an outstanding range of enrichment opportunities in science, technology, engineering and maths provided for girls from Remove to the Upper Sixth, it is no surprise that 17% of girls at Downe House chose to study STEM-related subjects at university this year ranging from biochemistry and neuroscience to engineering and product design.  View photos from STEM Day 2019 here

Find out more about the university destinations of last year’s leavers here.

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