Countdown’s Rachel Riley supports ‘STEM-sational’ day at Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School

28 Mar 2017

We were delighted to welcome Countdown’s Rachel Riley to Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School yesterday for a ‘STEM-sational’ event designed to encourage young women to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) based subjects.

Rachel, who studied maths at Oxford, spoke to hundreds of girls from schools all around the region.  She began by dispelling a few maths myths. ‘There’s no such thing as a maths brain. You just need to work hard & practice. I had to relearn my times tables by redoing them whilst listening to the countdown clock.’

Attendees wanted to know about her own experiences. ‘Me? I’m inspired by a project that wants to send nano spaceships to the next star system. My favourite things are applied maths & studying time travel and my craziest showbiz story was when I met Stephen Hawking, he’s a bit cool! I love doing things that scare me but challenging myself & making it happen!’

She was joined by two of the UK’s leading female scientists Dr Anna Slater and Dr Melanie Windridge.  Anna, who works at Liverpool University in the Chemistry Department, has a PhD in Supramolecular Chemistry.   Her research has resulted in her being awarded the Royal Society-EPSRC Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship and she has also been shortlisted for the 2016 Women of the Future Awards. Dr Melanie Windridge, who has a Doctorate from Imperial College London, is an expert in the aurora and in fusion energy.  She likes to combine her scientific knowledge and experience with her love of adventure to promote a better understanding of Science.  She has also appeared on TV in science shows and written two books.

The event was organised by Merchants’ Physics Teacher, Mrs Jennie Lynch, in conjunction with the team behind The Big Bang North West, All About STEM. As well as listening to the inspirational guest speakers the girls were given the opportunity to participate in a number of engineering and maths based workshops.  Leading Universities and Companies were also on hand to provide an insight into potential career paths.

Mrs Lynch envisaged a programme that would motivate girls to consider the many opportunities open to those who study STEM based subjects and judging by the responses of the participants she certainly achieved that and much more.