Year 9 girls from Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Ystalyfera visited the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s (UWTSD) campus in Swansea to experience the opportunities of STEM learning.
The aim was to provide hands-on experience and exposure to courses and careers in IT and STEM.
The event formed part of the University’s current Widening Access ‘Girls into IT' series which has already given over 200 schoolgirls the opportunity to experience the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and hear from expert speakers.
Rhodri Noakes, Widening Access Officer at UWTSD said:
“I am thrilled to be part of an initiative Increasing the awareness of higher education and career opportunities, pathway opportunities, role models and mentoring programs with women in STEM for girls. The aim of the taster sessions is to improve the perception that STEM subjects are ‘difficult’ or ‘inaccessible’ to girls and to provide a valuable insight into career pathways and working environments before pupils make their GCSE subject choices.
“Hopefully our Girls in STEM taster sessions give girls the skills and confidence to succeed in maths and science.”
As pathways to STEM careers are made early on with GCSE and A-level choices, UWTSD has been supporting these efforts by offering taster sessions for those interested in Computing, Engineering, Construction or Environmental studies for pupils. These particular taster courses have been set up as an attempt to try to improve on the perception of STEM subjects as being ‘difficult’ or ‘inaccessible’ to girls.
This initiative was set up in response to research by the WISE Campaign which highlighted that in 2021, female IT professionals made up only 21% of the UK’s total Technology workforce, and female Engineers only 12.5%, showing the need for additional encouragement of women and girls into these fields.
Dr Ewa Kazimierska, Chemistry Lecturer and Programme Manager of Ordnance, Munition and Explosives Apprenticeship programme at UWTSD said:
“The ‘Girls into STEM’ event at UWTSD proved that girls from all backgrounds have the potential to excel in these exciting and rewarding fields. By providing opportunities for hands-on learning and exposure to real-world applications, we are igniting a passion for STEM among girls from local comprehensive schools, empowering them to pursue their dreams and become the innovators, scientists, and engineers of tomorrow’.
During the event, pupils were able to discover more about the world of IT and technology and careers in STEM. Two guest speakers from UWTSD’s IT Systems and Infrastructure department, Swathi Padmanabhan and Amina Meah, talked about their experiences in STEM careers from education to apprenticeships, to working at the University.
Yolanda Rendón Guerrero, Innovation Fellow at UWTSD’s Assistive Technologies Innovation Centre (ATiC) gave the schoolgirls an opportunity to learn about 3D printing and to show the kinds of technologies they use at the research centre. Pupils also had the chance to model their own designs using TinkerCAD.
Abi Penny from the Engineering department gave a tour around the labs and facilities to the girls so they could have an insight into what the university has to offer.
Rich Morgan from Applied Computing provided a game design session that involved a group mind map exercise to discuss and explore who plays games and why, followed by a multiplayer game experience intended to provide an example of primary research gathering through active engagement and play.