On Monday 12th March, 150 guests and five special guest judges gather for a fantastic evening in the Longton Hall at Sydenham High School, all in the name of the #700STEMChallenge, a writing competition designed to draw out students' passion for all things STEM.
There has recently been extensive coverage in the media about the gender gap in STEM and the lack of girls participating in these subjects, but not at Sydenham High! This entire event was masterminded, and executed, by Year 12 student, Annabelle Simmonds, outside of her already demanding timetable for A Level Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry.
Thirty eight finalists, hailing from nine different schools across the UK, congregated in eager anticipation to hear the results of their entries into the competition.
Year 7-13 pupils from schools across the UK had been invited to enter, calling them to write an article of 700 words on a topic related to one of four categories: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and the finalists were selected within three sub-categories: under 14, under 16 and under 18.
The judges all commented on the extraordinary level of knowledge from the entrants; the finalists did incredibly well as there were over 250 applications, all of which were judged on style, creativity and content.
The event was a great success, with presentations from the judges describing their career paths, encouraging girls, as well as boys, to follow their passion for STEM, and the importance of choosing a pathway that is right for them, whether that be university or an apprenticeship.
The audience thoroughly enjoyed hearing from our special guests before the winners were announced and the prizes were awarded, including a tour of the Engineering department at a major London airport and a copy of A Brief History of Time signed by the late Professor Stephen Hawking.
All of the articles will be published in a journal later in the year.
Annabelle explains, “The #700STEMChallenge is my proudest project, with the final exceeding all expectations of what I originally had imagined it would be. All of the judges and guest speakers gave such inspirational speeches and for that I am so grateful. It was a night that I will never forget and a competition that I hope will be continued for many years to come.”
Headmistress at the school, Mrs Katharine Woodcock, said: “We are bursting with pride for all that Annabelle has achieved in creating and running this event. She is an inspiration not only to her peers, but to us as educators and professionals, and I am delighted to see the enthusiasm for STEM developing in our next generation of young women.”
The judges were Captain Al Bridger, Chief Pilot Boeing fleet, British Airways, Matthew Gardner, Engineer at British Airways, Rachel Thomas, Writer and editor, specialising in mathematics and science communication, Carrie Bennett, a 22 year old Audit Senior and Chartered Accountant at Ernst & Young, Jade Garner, a 19 year old Business Apprentice, Ernst & Young.