On Thursday 12th March, we held our first Nucleus Spring STEM event as part of British Science Week. The day consisted of a series of lectures and several workshops.
Spring Lecture Series
The first part of the Spring STEM Event was a series of three lectures attended by Nucleus STEM students and invited students from local schools.
The first Lecture was delivered by Dr Wanda McCormick from the University of Northampton. Wanda described how progressed her career to working in animal nutrition, and her experiences of working in Paignton Zoo during a sandwich year at university. The students were interested in how her studies and career progressed, and she was able to apply for, and receive funding for her sandwich placement. The older students were particularly interested in asking how to take advantage of these opportunities; and the younger students, especially those from our visiting schools, asked several questions about her role and what the work entails.
Then followed current University of Leicester Mathematics undergraduate Shamia, who focused on her journey, experiences and initiatives. Shamia showed an incredible passion for breaking down pre-conceived perceptions about women in STEM subjects and getting more young women into these types of courses and jobs. She described the incredible array of experiences that she had taken advantage of and demonstrated to the students how ambition can take you anywhere.
The final lecture was presented by Dr David Brown from the University of Warwick. David explained some of the techniques that are used to discover exoplanets – planets that are orbiting around other stars. He showed images of some of the incredible telescopes used to make these discoveries and had student volunteers help him model the concepts of how researchers look for these distant planets. The students were fascinated by the presentation and asked lots of questions about his work and the applications of it.
Following the lectures, different groups of Northampton Academy students took part in three workshops.
- Women in Maths Careers: We welcomed Sarah Coy from Mercer Ltd. Mercer is a global company with headquarters in New York, but officers all over the world. Sarah held a workshop with some Year 9 girls and showed that women hold three of the most senior positions within the company. Sarah explained what her job as an Actuary involves and the steps to get there – and how a maths degree can lead to incredible earning power. They also looked at some famous women with STEM backgrounds.
- Shamia held a session with some Year 10 Computer Science girls to discuss women in STEM and how they can get into STEM careers. She continued to demonstrate her passion for positive female role models, and the options open to the students for future study and careers.
- Dr David Brown held two workshops for Computer Science and STEM students in Years 8 and 10. These workshops demonstrated some of the techniques described in his lecture, to real-life data to look for exoplanets. The students engaged in the activities and were able to successfully identify exoplanets from data sets of requiring analysis of increasing difficulty. The students asked lots of inciteful and well thought out questions at the end of the session, demonstrating a high level of thought and understanding of unfamiliar applications of STEM subjects.
We would like to thank all the individuals and organisations that contributed to the success of the day:
Dr Wanda McCormick – University of Northampton
Dr David Brown – University of Warwick
Sarah Coy – Mercer Ltd.
Shamia Sanjania, Fatima Patel and Rahma Said – University of Leicester (additional thanks go to Prof. Jeremey Levesley for facilitating this visit)
We would also like to thank Ecton Brook Primary School and Bridgewater Primary School for bringing groups of students to participate in the event, and the excellent behaviour and engagement of the pupils – they were a credit to their schools.
Finally, we would like to commend our students for how they conducted themselves. The behaviours they exhibited fully demonstrated Northampton Academy’s core values of respect, determination and ambition. I would like to end with the following quote from one of our visiting contributors:
“Northampton Academy welcomed us with a warm heart, and we would love to come and share more experiences with yourselves… we felt your students were very respectful and interested in taking up the most of these opportunities. It was great to see so many students keen to make great choices in their career routes. I wish them all the best.”