Students inspired at Potteries Science Festival

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Posted on 10 July 2017

Students from across Stoke-on-Trent enjoyed an evening of scientific inspiration and were honoured for their efforts in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics as part of the Potteries Science Festival.

Professor Maggie Snowling, President of St John’s College, Oxford, delivered an inspirational talk about her career as a clinical psychologist and academic, sharing insights into her research on dyslexia and children’s learning.

Professor Jonathan Wastling, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Keele University, led the presentations for the evening, awarding students from schools throughout the City for their efforts in STEM subjects.

Jacob Nixon won Science Writer of the Year, whilst James Maddock won Science Photographer of the Year. Chloe Owen and Molly Poole shared the award for Scientist of the Year, whilst Hillside Primary won the Robot Design Award.

Sophie Lane and Olivia Machnik won a visit to the Royal Society for their outstanding efforts in science.

As part of the evening, students from several schools also took part in an engineering competition, with pupils from St Peter’s Academy winning.

To inspire students to study science at University, two undergraduate students from Keele University delivered STEM Sells presentations. Amy Worrall, a 2nd year Neuroscience student, delivered a fascinating insight into the brain. However, it was Nathalie Feeley, a 2nd year Biology student, who won the contest, with her presentation that raised questions about the possibilities of reversing the ageing process.

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STEM Sells winners: Keele students Nathalie Feeley and Amy Worral with Mark Kent, principal of Stoke-on-Trent 6th Form College, and Professor Jonathan Wastling. 

Speaking after the event, Professor Wastling commented:

“It was fantastic to see so many young people acknowledged for their efforts in science, maths, engineering and technology. The two talks from our undergraduate students were particularly inspiring - it certainly gave me plenty to think about, and they both did a fantastic job of conveying the clear passion they have for their subjects.”

The Potteries Science Festival took place on the 3rd and 4th of July, and included activities at several locations throughout the city, including the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Mitchell Arts Centre, Burslem School of Art, City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College, Keele University and Staffordshire University. Workshops, expos, and competitions ran across the two days, with highlights including an evening with talks from pioneers in their fields, including Kate Bergel from Framestore, makers of the films Gravity and The Martian, and leading barrister Michael Mansfield QC.

Dr Mark Parton, co-organiser of the festival, commented:

“Not only has the presentation evening been a massive success the entire festival has received great feedback. Events like the visit to Royal Society in London have undoubtedly opened many learners’ eyes to the importance STEM careers and the potential roles within our city. One of the purposes of the event was to smash the sense of a false glass ceiling and the disbelief that learners from Stoke-on-Trent can’t achieve the very best. The organisers are proud that the festival has begun to address this misconception.”

The Potteries Science Festival was an area wide collaborative initiative between the City of Stoke-on- Trent Sixth Form College, Keele University, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on- Trent City Council, the University of Exeter, universities network Higher Horizons, community organisation Wave-maker and SASCAL, the Stoke-on- Trent secondary Headteachers’ group.