The South West London Guides wanted to organise a trip that would encourage their members to take an interest in the world of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). With women making up just 14.4% of the STEM workforce in the UK, it’s important that schools and youth organisations are working with girls to help increase that number. Thanks to a £750 Jack Petchey Foundation Small Grant, 62 Guides from South West London attended an activity day at Centre of the Cell, in Whitechapel. Centre of the Cell is a science education centre based in Whitechapel. It is the first education centre in the world to be located within working biomedical research laboratories.
The Guides got to visit the “Pod”, an orange room suspended above laboratories in the Blizard Institute, giving them the chance to watch the research scientists at work.
For the main event, the Guides watched two educational shows about the body. The first show, called ‘Gut Feeling’, gave the girls the chance to follow the journey of one boy’s breakfast as it passed through his mouth, into the digestive system and out the other end! In this show the Guides learnt about the structure and function of the digestive tract, why 'we are what we eat', and what happens to the guts of patients with bowel diseases. The second show, charmingly named “Sick, Snot and Scabs”, explained what snot, sick, and scabs are made of, how the body fights off microscopic bacteria and viruses, and how our cells work.
For many of the girls, this was the first time they had visited a centre dedicated to scientific research and they were completely captivated by the building and the work it supports. The event gave them the opportunity to see how an interest in the human body can translate into a career in a STEM field. Knowledgeable professionals were on hand throughout the trip to answer any related questions, and gave the Guides their full time and attention.
Jack Petchey Foundation Coordinator Diana Noble said, “Often, girls don't see how varied a STEM career can be and it is hoped that days like this will encourage our members to look into opportunities available to them.”
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