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Manchester High School for Girls

HOW CAN WE ENCOURAGE BRITAIN'S NEXT FEMALE ASTRONAUTS FROM A YOUNG AGE?

Manchester High School for Girls has a long history of encouraging and inspiring girls to pursue dynamic careers in areas such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacology and engineering.

This year even our youngest pupils in our Prep Department will have the opportunity to embark on a voyage of discovery by becoming real scientists and growing seeds that have been part of Tim Peake's Principia Mission to the ISS! We have been chosen from thousands of schools in the North West area to be one of twelve primary schools locally that take part in this national experiment; an experiment that aims to encourage pupils to think about how human life could be preserved on another planet and the difficulties surrounding growing fresh food in challenging climates. It will involve our girls in exciting real life scientific investigations and the opportunity to see their data being used on an international scale.

Projects such as this do so much to stimulate our girls' interest in the study of science and, more specifically, the scientific fields of astronomy and astrophysics. Pupils see the ‘real life’ impact of their studies, and start to understand the myriad career options open to them in these growing fields. Today we launched the run up to our exciting Science Week that is happening in the week beginning March 14th, where girls will be involved in a huge range of practical science activities and investigations both in their classrooms, and with visiting workshop leaders. 

Giving our girls the advantage of these kinds of opportunities, from science week to the range of field trips undertaken from a young age, allows them to widen their perception of the world around them. Trips to museums and observatories in our local or national environment allow our girls to fully explore  science through engaging, interactive workshops. We are fortunate in Manchester to have a wealth of options in this respect; locations such as the Jodrell Bank Observatory give pupils the opportunity to have their questions answered by enthusiastic specialists, whose passion and interest in their subject often acts as the initial catalyst that ignites for pupils a lifelong interest in all aspects of the sciences.

During the summer term this year, we are inviting one of our recent alumni back to visit the school and work with the girls. This extraordinary lady carved out a successful career in the field of astrophysics whilst working for the European Space agency. Her visit will provide another opportunity to open their young eyes to the potential opportunities in less traditional areas of scientific study; it will demonstrate to them that they too can forge careers at the forefront of space exploration, if that is a future career path that excites them.

Lastly, it is important to remember that part of encouraging girls to become astronauts or to work in the field of astrophysics is ensuring girls develop their emotional intelligence; this is also fundamental to their future career success in any field. By nurturing and developing individual personal qualities such as resilience, determination, independence and self-belief, through our pastoral care systems and our approach to leadership opportunities for pupils, children can overcome any difficulties they may face in their pursuit of the stars. 

Do use our Science Week as a chance to share your thoughts with your daughters about the power of science in the 21st Century, and what great fun they can have exploring that.

Emma C Nash