International Women in Engineering Day

Six Year 8 students visited the RNLI headquarters in Poole with Mr Downes, the Careers Leader, to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day. During the day they enjoyed a tour, took part in many different workshops and competed in challenges against other schools.

On arrival at the RNLI headquarters, the first thing we noticed was just how big it all was. It is amazing to think that this has all been paid for by public donations. Part of the tour included seeing where the new lifeboats were constructed and older vessels refitted. The workshop was so large you could have fitted several football pitches in it! Being International Women in Engineering Day, we did notice that there were more men helping to construct the boats than women, so hopefully girls like us will be inspired to take up such jobs as these in the future.

For our next task we split into two groups of three and first observed how a placemat, coaster and a keyring could be manufactured using different materials. We then had a go ourselves. With care and attention to detail we discovered we could all make really good quality products. The keyrings were a special commemorative design for Women in Engineering.

Another of the workshops we took part in, involved finding out about the making and design of life jackets. We learnt about the precise engineering that is used to construct them, making them both comfortable and keeping the wearer safe in the most dangerous of environments. However, the most exciting and fascinating part is the cord you pull, which very quickly releases carbon dioxide out of a canister, inflating the jacket to insure that when you are in real danger you will not drown. Eve and Lucy volunteered to try out the life jackets. Lucy jumped out of her skin when the jacket inflated! A canister to inflate just one costs £30! Learning about the life jackets was both tremendously fascinating and great fun – we felt very privileged to find out at first hand how they are designed and work.

The penultimate task of the day, among many, was the pool rescue challenge in which we had to make a buoyancy aid out of water bottles, calculate the mass of flotation and then use it to rescue a woman who was in the water. This challenge was against the clock and some other schools had already scored really good times. The only way we were going to win was if we took our teamwork to a new level, not only collaborating our ideas, but using the strengths of each person to get the tasks done both efficiently and fast. Eve and Lucy did the maths as this is their strength, Julia and Fabiana measured out the water and threaded three water bottles into the fabric, Eleanor made the knots as she had previously learnt this skill in cubs and finally Evie threw the buoyancy aid to the woman in the water. Unfortunately her first attempt fell just short, but her second attempt was just right and the woman was quickly rescued. Out of all the schools attending we won and at the end of the day we received a prize.

We were all very excited when we were given the chance to go on the lifeboat bridge simulator. It was extremely fun and we were lucky enough to all get a chance to use the controls. It was interesting to see that this advanced technology made you feel as if you were actually out at sea – as you looked out of the windows there were even people in the sea waving to be rescued! We felt really honored, as this sort of opportunity does not come round often, and we were very grateful.

During the day we had a presentation from a young Engineering graduate and also got to hear from our own Eve and Lucy who were invited to give a presentation about their award winning STEM project from earlier in the year. It was a great opportunity for them to share their experience and we really hope it inspired girls from others schools to get involved.

We would like to say a big thank you to Mr Downes for taking us, Mrs Sumbler from the Science Department who also came with us and of course all the RNLI staff who made it such a fantastic day.

Year 8 International Women in Engineering Day students