This year we were lucky enough to receive funding from Western Power Distribution to deliver an education project. The funds came with a fairly wide project brief to deliver sessions that give ‘access to nature for young people through structured school based sessions’.
We decided to challenge ourselves with a new project aimed at getting teenage girls interested and inspired by science and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) subjects in general!
Why did we decide on this? these infographics illustrate some of our reasons. (Infographics reference https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/)
We set ourselves the following aims:
- To connect girls with science in their everyday life – linking food, cosmetics, and nutrition to seaweed and therefore to the sea and the wider marine environment.
- To inspire the girls to make science choices for their studies which may lead to future science based careers.
Then set about contacting local Secondary schools to get them involved, looking particularly for Year 9 (14 year old) girls to work with.
We offered each school (five in total) a free classroom session and a free visit to Wembury beach.
In the classroom all our sessions involved seaweed!
The girls took our supermarket seaweed challenge, they tried products containing seaweed (including cake!), we made seaweed (Sodium Alginate) jelly, we created lip balm using spirulina based food colouring and made and drank seaweed smoothies!
At the beach we kept the girls busy with rockpooling and a seaweed survey plus mini fire lighting, stick whittling and using our new Kelly Kettles to make hot chocolate and finally toasting marshmallows and cooking popcorn over our camp fire! We also purchased a mini hydrophone to listen to underwater noise in the rockpools, which nicely combined the science and technology sides of STEM.
In total we worked with 78 girls on this fantastic project, we had so much fun and we helped the next generation understand how important science is. We hope we inspired some of them to take science further at school and to consider science based careers in the long term.
Our thanks to the teachers and pupils at All Saints Academy, Coombe Dean School, Lipson Community College, Plymouth High School for Girls and Plymstock School for taking part in this free project.
And our thanks to Western Power Distribution for the funding.