Local schoolgirls take part in an exciting STEM event with industry leaders at Reading College and University Centre

Young girls from local secondary schools attended a Girls in STEM event at Reading College and University Centre on Thursday 14 March.

Groups of pupils from years 7-9 from Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic School, Highdown School and Sixth Form Centre, Langtree School, Maiden Erlegh School, Slough & Eton CofE Business and Enterprise College and The Piggott School attended the one-day event at the King’s Road campus.

Representatives from Mace, Morgan Sindall Construction, Salt Hill VR and Sir Robert McAlpine attended the event, presented inspirational talks and ran workshops to give the pupils a glimpse of the opportunities open to them if they choose to pursue a career in STEM.

Local schoolgirls built towers out of spaghetti and marshmallows in the Mace workshop.

During the Mace workshop, after an introductory presentation, pupils were split into groups and asked to build towers out of spaghetti and marshmallows, which were 0.5m high and could stand unsupported. Pupils were encouraged to take on the roles of Programme Manager, Designer Authority, Supply Chain Manager and Commercial Manager and asked to keep to a budget.

In the Morgan Sindall workshop, after a presentation about the company and the apprenticeship scheme, pupils took part in a quiz to test how much they’d learnt during the session.

While in the Sir Robert McAlpine workshop, each representative talked about their career journey. They then talked about what roles are available in construction, to show the pupils that there is a diverse range of roles available. Afterwards, pupils were put into groups of six and asked to assume the role of landscape architects. They were asked to design a sustainable outdoor space, measuring 200 x 300m, promoting eco-friendly practices, biodiversity and community engagement.

A pupil's design for a sustainable outdoor space activity in the Sir Robert McAlpine workshop

Meanwhile in the Salt Hill VR workshop, pupils got to play VR games and were given a demonstration on a 360 camera and how it can be used in different industries.

Ben Mitchell, 18, from Reading is studying a Digital T Level at Reading College and University Centre. He is doing a placement at Salt Hill VR as part of his programme, along with three other Digital T Level students. All four of them assisted with the Salt Hill VR activities at the event.

He said: “I really enjoyed taking part in the event. Most of the pupils haven’t experienced VR before so it was nice to see them get to grips with it and enjoy the activities.

“I was part of the VR plank experience, so I told the pupils what they needed to do to take part in the game properly and enjoy it to the best.”

A local schoolgirl experiences some VR activities in the Salt Hill VR workshop

Alex Scates, Stakeholder and Engagement Manager at Mace said: “The Girls in STEM event was a great mechanism to effectively showcase some of the opportunities available across the industry for our managers of the future.

“Getting them involved at managing a very small-scale project exposed them to non-traditional opportunities at the right stage in their education, which broadens their horizons in terms of where their careers will take them in the future.”

Alex Scates, Stakeholder and Engagement Manager, Mace, gives an introductory presentation

Jay Younes, Immersive Producer at Salt Hill VR said: “It’s always great to share the technology, meet students and encourage them to get involved in more types of STEM careers because VR covers quite a few aspects.

“They were able to try a range of different virtual reality applications and we gave them a short course on 360 video camera and the use cases for the technology in different industries.

“It went well. There were lots of interactions and great questions from the young people and it’s been great to hear about their career aspirations.”

Chiazo Okey-Nzewuihe, Quantity Surveyor at Morgan Sindall Construction talks about apprenticeship opportunities.

Natasha Bright-Thomas, Teacher at Maiden Erlegh School said: “I think it’s really important that girls get the opportunity to experience possible options and outcomes that they can have control over, and I think the events was really interesting because there’s a variety of things that the girls are accessing, utilising and connecting with.

“The activities were tailored to their age group which is really good. The support from the companies was really positive. They are clearly versed in how to run workshops and they were very well planned.”

Lauren Davies, Schools Partnership Executive at Activate Learning said: “We were delighted to welcome over 100 pupils and their teachers from schools in Reading, South Oxfordshire, and Slough. Thank you all who attended and assisted with the event.

“This event was run by our four local employer networks and our in-house Events team. I am truly grateful for the support from our employers: Sir Robert McAlpine, The Mace Group, Salt Hill VR, and Morgan Sindall Construction who inspired the pupils and helped them see different skills within the STEM industry.”

Find out more about , , and courses available at Reading College and University Centre or contact Activate Learning on 0800 612 6008.