13 July 2018
This summer, a group of senior students in Years 7 and 8 accompanied by four members of staff, visited Wolfsburg in Germany, to visit the Autostadt, Phaeno and Badeland attractions. The girls stayed in a modern hotel called Innside Wolfsburg, situated in a very central location on the riverside so that it was possible to walk everywhere.
The Autostadt, traditionally known for showcasing cars from the VW group, has grown to be an incredible STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) experience. Phaeno is a very hands-on science centre, built like a spaceship and the Badelands is one of the largest indoor swimming complexes in Northern Europe.
The main reason for visiting the Autostadt and Phaeno venues is that they stimulate creativity, ingenuity and a desire to consider Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) vocations as a career. The attractions showcase cutting edge technology that will be the future including 360 degree cinemas (incorporating sound, temperature and smell), 3D printers (cutting prototypes), robotic vehicles, interacting robots and ‘holographic people’; experiences that sell STEM, by showing what is and might be possible. Many students are inspired to go on to study Science/Engineering/Maths at University and secure very interesting, lucrative and exciting careers. As a girls’ only school, Manor House is keen to promote the opportunities open to female workers in these industries. Covering more than 28 hectares, the Autostadt offers many opportunities to experience Volkswagen Group brands in special pavilions, or discover exhibitions focusing on sustainability and other themes.
After flying to Hannover, girls caught the ICE train to Wolfsburg and visited the Autostadt for the rest of the day including a one hour tour of the VW production line (spotlessly clean, quiet and 90% automated). At the Autostadt, girls could also explore the ZeitHaus museum and glass CarTowers all set amidst the beautiful park and lagoon landscape. It was possible to sit in a glass ‘car’ to experience the final stage of the production process and be ‘placed’ automatically in a fully robotic ‘parking garage’ high above the city of Wolfsburg.
On the second day, girls took some time out in the morning to visit Badeland, an amazing water park, which used to be the largest in Europe, and a travelator bridge across the river.
On the final day, the group visited Phaeno to experience “one of the dozen most important modern works of architecture in the world” (source: The Guardian). This exceptional building was created by the star architect and Pritzker Prize-winner Zaha Hadid and its fascinating design has a marvelous impact. The building looks like a spacecraft that has just landed. Resting on its ten cone-shaped “feet”, the concrete structure spanning 154 metres seems to almost hover in the air.
The inside of Phaeno seems to be from another world as well: a free-flowing space framed by cast concrete. Without any right angles and entwined over several levels, it is an ideal location for adventurers and discoverers.
The trip proved to be an unforgettable STEM experience that the girls will not forget. Additionally, pupils studying German were given opportunities to practise their language skills and experience an important part of German culture and industry.