Science Starz teams up with Belfast Harbour and Vickerstock to promote STEM subjects to girls

There is a significant gender gap which needs to be addressed within engineering professions and also within the higher level study of STEM subjects.

For example 49% of Physics GCSE pupils are girls, but only 20% of Physics A-Level pupils are girls and only 14% of engineering graduates are women.*

Once we get as far as the engineering workplace only 11% is female.**

A big problem is that the number of young women studying engineering and physics has remained virtually static since 2012** and so we were delighted work with Belfast Harbour in providing workshops to 4 local primary school classes at a STEM focused morning at their office.

The purpose of the morning was to engage with the girls through STEM related activites and hopefully inspire them to take up STEM subjects and careers in the future. The event was aimed primarily at female pupils aged 9-11 from Mercy PS, Lough View integrated, Bunscoil Phobal Feirste and Fane Street PS.

Vickerstock, the main corporate sponsor of Queen’s Formula Racing invited some of the female students from the team to come along with the racing car in the hope that this would spark some interest in the children – it worked!

The children were fascinated with the car and kept the Queen’s students busy with lots of questions about how fast the car went, what it was made of and how long it took to build.

Vickerstock also ran a colouring-in competition which taught the chidren about a variety of potential STEM careers from automotive engineers to astronauts, while also crafting that most important engineering talent – the skill of drawing.

We had a few Da Vincis in the group and judging was tough, but eventually we got down to the winning 3 who won a range of  educational STEM toys. W5 Belfast also kindly donated a family pass ticket to the overall winner.

Jenni Barkley, Communications and Corporate Responsibility Manager, said: “Belfast Harbour believes it is essential that we play our part in creating the workforce of the future and ensuring there is enough talent directed towards the STEM subjects that are already in such high demand in the fast-growing growing engineering, technology and digital sectors.”

Elita Frid, Director at Science Starz, said: “Science Starz brings STEM to life with exciting, fun experiments that really engaged the children at the schools we visited. If we can show both girls and boys that studying STEM opens up a wide and varied range of career options, it gives us a much better chance of creating the talent pool the Northern Ireland economy will need in years to come.”

Darren McVicker, Director of Vickerstock, said: “Vickerstock is delighted to have had the opportunity to work alongside Belfast Harbour and Science Starz to promote STEM to a new generation of potential engineers.  It is essential that as a recruitment agency we continually look to the future of the industries we recruit for and provide as much help and support to the young people coming through as possible.”

Our ongoing relationship with the Queen’s Formula Racing team has been extremely successful and rewarding and we would like to thank the engineering students for bringing the race car with them and answering questions from the primary school pupils.”

Dr Geoff Cunningham, Senior Lecturer in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s, added: “In July 2018 the Queen’s Formula Racing (QFR) team, supported by Vickerstock, raced the car around the Silverstone Circuit in England as part of the Formula Student UK competition. The team competed against 80 other universities and finished in the top ten. The QFR project has been running since 2000 and gives the next generation of engineers the opportunity to gain invaluable experience solving real-life problems to build a tangible product.”

*Stats from eye4education.co.uk Women in STEM

**Stats from wes.org.uk Women in Engineering