Newcastle High declares its love for STEM

Senior School Main Hall. Photography: Valentina Egorova

This Valentine’s Day, Newcastle High School for Girls held an exhibition to celebrate their love for STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The event brought together experts in STEM to share insights, experiences and wisdom that could inspire the girls to pursue these career paths.

Dr Jess Wade, research associate at Imperial College London, came to the Jesmond school to read a lecture, “Plastic Fantastic”, in which she explored how solar energy could be made cheaper and more efficient.

External organisations invited to share the love for STEM included Newcastle University, Dronelab, Campus North, Tech for life and ZeroLight.

The event aimed to encourage more girls to choose what is often perceived as male-biased subjects was organised by Dr Stephanie Scott, Newcastle High STEM leader.

The girls wrote they love about STEM. Photography: Valentina Egorova

Gordon Wake, biology teacher, told JesmondLocal what drove Newcastle High to organise “We love STEM”. He said: “The idea behind it is to engage women in STEM. We thought, ‘What a better day to do it than Valentine’s Day’ – so that the girls could exhibit their love for all these things.

“It’s all about creating a buzz around STEM activities.”

Wake added: “Our girls are incredibly enthusiastic about it, but nationally girls generally drop out of science-related subjects as they move into A-levels, and it is something we are very passionate about that we don’t see it happen here at Newcastle High.

“In terms of STEM subjects, we have almost 50% of our girls, which is massively different to the national picture.”

According to Institute of Physics, 49% of state schools do not send girls to study A-levels physics, and the stigma surrounding women and STEM is yet to be combatted.

But the Jesmond school tries to counter gender stereotypes that some subjects are for boys rather than for girls and open all doors for its pupils.

Earlier this February, 30 pupils from Newcastle High attended the conference at Sage Gateshead “Girls in STEM”, where they were awarded the Best School Prize.

Newcastle High pupils exploring the robots. Photography: Valentina Egorova

Thomas Kilsby, software engineer at ZeroLight, a tech company that provides 3D visualisation solutions for automotive brands, said: “Right now there is a lack of female engineers or computer scientists. We are trying to push the STEM subjects that will let girls go to a university and do the degrees that are required to work for places like ZeroLight.

“We are a company that exists in Newcastle, and we’re always employing new people: new soft engineers, new graphics designers. We just want to encourage people to go forward and get the skills.”