In late August, the first CoachBright 'Girls In STEM' Summer School took place in Exeter, funded by a small grant from The Ogden Trust.
Six Year 6 girls from five local primary schools took part, spending the first day at St Luke's Science & Sports College, where they will be going in September.
As well as getting acquainted with their new secondary school, they discussed gender stereotypes, excelled in a very fast and competitive maths treasure hunt, made and launched paper rockets, got the hang of Python coding, thought about how STEM jobs might help solve global problems, and finished off a jam-packed day by making t-shirts featuring their favourite scientists.
I liked doing the t-shirts because I learnt a lot about scientists and what they're famous for. I liked making nitrogen ice-cream and making new friends.
On day two they visited the University of Exeter where, as well as a campus tour, they met lots of female PhD students and had a practical physics session which included making liquid nitrogen ice-cream – a particularly tasty high point!
I liked interacting with the experiments and meeting new friends.
Supporting the students throughout were two female Year 10 mentors and a teacher from St Luke's; Natalie Whitehead, a PhD student from Exeter University; as well as Mary McPherson and Amelia Jenkinson from the CoachBright team.
The participants took to all the activities enthusiastically and very much enjoyed meeting some inspiring role-models, making new friends, discovering their new school and learning new skills in science, maths, technology and computing. Many very mature discussions took place over the two days and they will go up to secondary school full of confidence and looking forward to seeing their mentors there again.
CoachBright is a new social enterprise aiming to widen university access for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds by offering one-to-one coaching with young, trained mentors to improve their grades, confidence and expectations.