On Monday 16 March, the final judging and award ceremony for the third annual Salisbury STEM Challenge was held at South Wiltshire University Technical College. Five teams from three local schools attended the finals and their projects were displayed for the judges, Louise Tizzard, Geoservices Director, Wessex Archaeology and Helen Harrison, Deputy Head of Department for Electrical Engineering & Construction, Wiltshire College.
A team of five girls: Amelia Harmer, Miriam Morgan, Jing wen Xie, Rebecca Ashfield and Milly Hawling from Godolphin School, otherwise known as ‘Archimedes Crew’ took away the trophy and top prize money for their project ‘Irrigation System for growing crops in Developing Countries’. The judges praised all of the ‘superb’ projects entered, but of the Archimedes Crew entry, Judge Louise Tizzard, Geoservices Director, Wessex Archaeology said: ‘This one stood out, a very well researched and well-considered project. You showed great understanding of both the science and the scientific process as well as the technology behind your designs. A commendable winner.’ The team said of their project: ‘Our device would bring a solution to the food security issue in the Central African Republic as it would bring access to sufficient affordable and nutritious food. Our project is a device that transports water from a local river to a water tank and then distributes it to nearby rooftops for crop growth.’
Runner up in the 2020 Challenge was a team of one from St Edmund’s Girls School: Grace Moody with a project called ‘SafePee’. Judge Helen Harrison, Deputy Head of Department for Electrical Engineering & Construction, Wiltshire College said: ‘A commendable effort for being on your own and not having the support of a team. You have clearly thought about the impact your prototype would have on the people using this to create a safe environment to encourage and improve sanitation in India’. Grace said of her project: ‘‘SafePee’ is a hand operated wind-up pair of lights that will go inside and outside a public toilet cubicle in the slum area of Dharavi, Mumbai, India. By improving the lighting around public toilets ‘SafePee’ will improve people’s safety, encouraging them to make better use of proper sanitation. In turn, this reduces environmental pollution, and improves hygiene, health and water quality.’
Attendees at the event heard from sponsors Nailah Deer, Design Engineer Rotron Power, Gilo Industries Group Ltd and Sam Fieldhouse, Community and Education Manager, Wessex Archaeology who both stressed the importance of girls studying STEM subjects in order to correct the gender balance in their industries. Sam Fieldhouse said to the girls: ‘The skills you develop today will help us secure the future.’
A presentation on ‘Our careers in STEM’ was given by Megan Metcalfe, Senior Marine Geophysicist and Grace Jones, Senior Post-Excavation Archaeologist from Wessex Archaeology who gave the girls a flavour of the work they had done, the overseas travel they had experienced and the excitement of their fascinating scientific careers.
This is the third year that Salisbury Soroptimists have run the STEM Challenge jointly sponsored by Gilo Industries and Wessex Archaeology, for girls in local schools to raise their awareness of the inspiring career opportunities there are within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Our challenge to the year 8&9 girls was to research, design and develop a sustainable prototype for a solution to improve life for people living in poverty in the developing world.
There were a total of six entries from St Edmund’s Girls School, South Wilts Girls School, Godolphin School and Kingdown School.
South Wilts UTC generously hosted the event for a third year and in addition to the generosity of the two main sponsors Gilo Industries and Wessex Archaeology, Peter Aymes, Managing Director of Apsley Precision Engineering designed and manufactured the Salisbury STEM Challenge trophy. Corintech Ltd of Fordingbridge printed the programme and Tesco donated refreshments. Local STEM employers DSTL, Qinetiq and Porton Biopharma joined the main sponsors to have conversations with the Challenge entrants on their display stands.
Many thanks to Barbara Evans and to Tom Westhead at Wessex Archaeology for the photographs of the event.