3 April 2020
Encouraging more girls to study STEM subjects is high on the list of priorities at St George’s School for Girl in Edinburgh, and running a range of science-related academic enrichment programmes encouraging girls to participate in STEM competitions is proving extremely successful.
Two S5 students, Sophie and Iman, entered the national Big Bang Fair engineering competition where their entry won the ‘Runners Up’ Award in the ‘Intermediate Engineering’ category.
Sophie and Iman developed a design for a ‘Water-Powered Flood Barrier’ in response to the global issues caused by flooding each year. Their entry featured a versatile barrier using recycled materials, such as plastics, creating an eco-friendly solution.
Speaking on behalf of Iman, Sophie commented on their recent win:
“The issue of global flooding has elevated dramatically in recent years due to climate change and this prompted us to design an eco-friendly and locally sustainable solution. We wanted to mitigate the devastating impacts of flooding on surrounding areas and utilise the problem of flooding to power the solution.
“Taking part in the competition has been an amazing journey and has inspired us. I am now thinking of pursuing a career in Engineering.”
The girls qualified for the Big Bang competition through submitting a first-class video entry. You can see their video clip entry here: https://bit.ly/2WW5Szn . Their runners-up award has earned them a trophy and £250 to share.
Sophie and Iman’s original concept is also being considered for the UK ‘Water Prize’, which will be decided over the coming months.
The Big Bang Fair is a national, annual competition which recognises and rewards young peoples’ achievements in all areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), whilst providing them with the opportunity to build their skills and confidence in project-based work.
Alex Hems, Head of St George’s, commented:
“We are absolutely delighted for the girls. It is a real achievement to see how their initial idea has developed throughout the whole process and a great outcome after the many hours of hard work they put into their project.
“We are certainly seeing a national drive to engage more girls in STEM at school, and we are fortunate at St George’s – an all girls’ school – that we can avoid stereotypes, allowing girls to choose subjects that interest them and that they are good at.
“We have a range of academic enrichment programmes available, from science clubs in the primary years, through to a Medical Society in S6. We encourage girls to participate in a wide variety of STEM competitions, and have been successful in design and electronics competitions, as well as having UK winners in Mathematics, Neuroscience, Biology and Chemistry competitions. Recent visits from Medical Research Scotland and the prominent research physicist Dr Helen Czerski have proven extremely successful in getting more girls engaged.
“In recent years science has had the highest uptake of any of the option subjects in our national examinations. We buck the national trends: 25% of our girls take all three sciences at GCSE in S4, STEM subjects take the largest proportion of students in S5 and S6, and well over one third of all our university entrants go on to study STEM based courses.”