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Manchester High School for Girls


As the world celebrates International Women in Engineering Day today, 23rd June, Noor from Year 10 reflects on her recent STEM day in school.

"On Thursday 8th June, following the demanding period of exams, all students in Year 10 took part in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) curriculum enrichment day.

"Upon arriving in the MHSG Sixth Form Centre, we were split off into groups and given group names after acclaimed scientists and engineers. Michelle from the Engineering Development Trust gave us a short presentation regarding the significance of days like STEM day before setting us of on our first task: constructing a roller coaster from card and straws for support.

 "We needed to construct the roller coaster in such a way so that the carriage (which we represented using a marble) took as long as possible to complete a ride on our rollercoaster. The second requirement of the task is what really got us thinking. We had to refer back to earlier topics studied in physics, such as air resistance, in finding a way to slow down our marble. Our physics skills, coupled with nifty construction of funnels and curving tracks, all combined to slow down our marble. This task really inspired us to be creative! We would continually check how long it took for our marble to complete the track before formulating more ways in which we could slow down the marble. Having done as much as we possibly could to slow it down, our marble completed the track in an impressive 11 seconds.

"We returned to the lecture theatre for another presentation from Michelle; this time she provided us information about the profession of engineering.

"She explained why there is such an active demand for engineers: they have the problem-solving skills to fix a problem, and they are responsible for creating solutions to problems that we aren’t even aware of yet. She also described routes into engineering, what it meant to be an engineer and highlighted opportunities for girls who are enthusiastic about the field (like myself!) to develop their interest in Science and Engineering careers.

"Following this very informative talk, Michelle explained to us our next and final task: building a trebuchet, a construction similar to a catapult. We would have to ‘buy’ our materials using credits and an aspect of the task was to spend minimal credits and be cost-effective in our work. We were then sent off to our well-deserved lunch, however, my group, determined to win, decided to confer about how we would tackle this task and returned after lunch with a well-structured plan.

"After finishing the construction of our elaborate but expensive trebuchet, we made our way back to the lecture theatre to determine how effective it was. A 20cm wall was put up and our trebuchet had to launch a ball of paper over this wall and, to win, as far as possible. Teams went up one by one, some succeeding, other just falling short and then our turn came. We all stood with apprehension as the weight on our trebuchet was dropped and… it flew over wall and landed firmly on the other side. Words can’t describe our contentment as we high-fived one another and congratulated each other.

"Despite not winning either of the tasks, our group and everyone else taking part in STEM day thoroughly enjoyed the activities. Not only did it develop our team-working, creativity and presentation skills but enabled us to understand how the physics and maths we study can be applied to real problems and how science and technology impact the wider world."