Didcot girl’s school in Oxfordshire has been recognised for its cutting edge science partnership project, ‘Project M’. Together with Diamond Light Source labs located around the corner in Harwell pupils and scientists are working together to help build STEM inclusion both in the classroom and for women as well.
The STEM Innovation Award was presented at a ceremony of school senior leaders, the members of Diamond Light Source involved and the student scientists at the core of the project.
The project, named for the Roman numeral 1000 (the number of samples the school provided) involves pupils preparing samples of Calcium Carbonate and sending them to DLS for study. Dr Claire Murray and Dr Julia Parker, the leading scientists on the project hope to find uses for the uses for Calcium Carbonate (found in substances such as limestone, chalk and limescale) by studying the crystallography of the samples.
The project is a result of a recent figure stating that only 12% of undergraduates in STEM fields were women.
The school, being an all-girls school, sought projects that inspired pupils to follow through into STEM fields.
The scientists at DLS, who had already been working on Calcium Carbonate for several years, were interested in involving schools in the process to help them develop the samples and help build and guinea-pig kits. Thus, 'Project M' was born!
“What makes the project so special is that it’s real world science, it’s not adding different elements to a flame creating colours, it’s preparing samples for use in a lab that will hopefully find some fantastic applications for a common compound~ stated Owen, from the Community Education Awards. He went on to add that “it was the perfect marriage of ‘real world’ science learning with forwarding STEM opportunities for women that really highlighted Didcot girls as the winners”.
Rachel Warwick, head teacher at the school was elated by the award: “I am delighted that the innovation partnership between Diamond Light Source and the schools senior science club has been recognised through a Community Education Award. It is through opportunities such as this that young people are inspired to pursue careers in STEM and, at Didcot Girls’, we are committed to supporting the next generation of female scientists.