Over 400 secondary school students have been inspired to consider careers in science and engineering after attending the first ever Skelmersdale Science Summer School hosted by Professor Brian Cox CBE and Lord Andrew Mawson OBE, Chairman of Well North Enterprises.
Well North Enterprises joined forces with West Lancashire College and the West Lancashire Partnership to plan and deliver this inspiring and ground-breaking live event on 6th July. The programme’s ambitious aim is to encourage young people to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) subjects.
Alongside Prof Cox, speakers included astronaut Major Tim Peake, civil engineer Ayo Sokale, medical doctor and scientist Professor Lord Robert Winston, cosmetic science expert and entrepreneur Flow Adepoju, mechanical engineer for Airbus and Mars Rover Abigail Hutty and Dr Kate Black, a chemist and tech entrepreneur.
The sports hall at West Lancashire College was transformed by local production company, Proud House Events, into a Covid-safe, space-themed hub, complete with a video wall for virtual presentations. Students from eight high schools attended, working in socially distanced bubbles.
The day started with Prof Cox officially launching the Skelmersdale Science Summer School and the new West Lancashire School of Science based at the West Lancashire College. He then led a series of presentations to groups of students in socially-distanced in bubbles, delivering his talk – ‘Adventures in Space and Time’ – no less than four times.
After a lively question and answer session with the speakers, each group of students then took part in practical workshops throughout the day. These ranged from a Formula One pit crew challenge, 21st century manufacturing techniques for clay and concrete product and driving a container crane simulator to the science of games, robot wars and running a mock GP surgery.
The event closed with a special awards ceremony, recognising the contributions of students during the day following nominations by their teachers. The winner of the Skelmersdale Science Summer School Art Competition also received her prize. Amber Wells, a pupil at St Bede’s Catholic High School, created a design to represent why Skelmersdale wants to be “the best place to study science in the world”.
Feedback from the students and their parents has been hugely positive. One parent summed it up: “Today has inspired my son so greatly; this will be a day he always remembers… thank you for making it happen.”
A packed day was rounded off with a special virtual evening event for local, regional, national and international companies. Hosted by Prof Cox, the aim was to secure further support from the business community to create a sustainable future for Skelmersdale Science Summer School.
In conversation with Major Tim Peake and Tamalie Newbery, CEO of Brooklands Museum in Surrey, Prof Cox highlighted the benefits to the economy of building a lasting legacy of excellence, and inspiring future generations of students to become pioneers, innovators and entrepreneurs.
The inaugural Skelmersdale event was co-presented by West Lancashire College, West Lancashire Partnership and Well North Enterprises. It was also generously funded by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and supported by many businesses and organisations operating in West Lancashire, including Ibstock Plc and Peel Ports.
Denise Williamson, Principal of West Lancashire College, thanked everyone who had made the event such a huge success: “The Skelmersdale Science Summer School was an exciting opportunity for the students to expand their scientific knowledge and gain an appreciation of the importance that science plays in all aspects of our lives.
“The North West has a wealth of STEAM based industry and the College is very keen to work in partnership with employers to deliver opportunities that help to excite and inspire young people to consider a future career in science and related areas.”
“The Skelmersdale Science Summer School has provided a catalyst for us to raise the aspirational bar through collaboration,” said Jackie Moran, Director of Integration and Transformation at NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group.
“As an NHS body we understand that working together, and being the very best we can, will help to improve and protect our health and well being. Science has a major role to play in this. We want to help to build a legacy which enables children and young people to develop their STEAM knowledge and skills, leading to greater training and employment opportunities.”
Lord Andrew Mawson added: “Professor Brian Cox and I co-founded the Science Summer School in 2012 at a secondary school in east London. This school had experienced extremely challenging circumstances for years. By placing STEAM subjects at the heart of the curriculum, amazing things started to happen. Connecting education, careers, science and health was the impetus for rebuilding an entire community and inspiring young people to have confidence in what they can achieve in life.
“We are now working to expand the programme nationally with new projects being planned in Rotherham and Northern Ireland. We are also excited to be taking the Science Summer School to Brooklands in Surrey next year, with its rich history of innovation and entrepreneurship. The first Skelmersdale Science Summer School is the start of an exciting journey, not just for the local community but for our ambition to make Britain the best place to do science and engineering.”
For further information on the national Science Summer School initiative, please contact:
Science Summer School – Project Lead for Well North Enterprises
Watch a short video of the event below, or download the full event programme here.