Sparking a love of science for International Day of Women and Girls in Science

11 February 2021

Inspiring females into science is in the DNA of St Mary’s School. With International Day of Women and Girls in Science taking place on Thursday 11 February, this gave another opportunity for the students to explore their love of science and the importance that women and girls play in science and technology.

Despite the challenges of virtual learning, St Mary’s girls have shown great enthusiasm for practical science lessons. At the Lower School, the Preparatory (Reception) class have been exploring science with snow and Year 1 pupils have been investigating absorbent and non-absorbent materials. Years 5 and Year 6 girls have been discovering the pioneering contributions to science made by the 19th century, palaeontologist and fossil collector, Mary Anning. Year 7s from the Senior School have been making force meters by calibrating an elastic band and weighing objects and Year 8 were examining the composition of ink in felt tip pens, making chromatograms to show the range of coloured components. Measuring potatoes before and after adding to salt solutions, the Year 9 students investigated osmosis and the Year 10 girls have been looking at the variations in leaf length.

“Science at St Mary’s is progressive, active and vibrant.” said St Mary’s Principal, Mrs Hilary Vipond. She continued, “Students are enthused, challenged and motivated through practical hands-on experience, modelling, role play, ICT and direct involvement with all three sciences. These core techniques of teaching are still taking place, even during the challenging times of lockdown. The younger girls at the Senior School are continuing to follow a broad-based programme that covers Biology, Chemistry and Physics and the students in Year 9 have embarked on the GCSE science syllabus. Our students consistently celebrate success in the sciences, in 2020 I was delighted that there was 100% pass rate for GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Combined Science at St Mary’s. We relish the opportunity to educate future female scientists who can make a difference in the world.”

Recently the Year 10 Biology group at St Mary’s won the group category of the Royal Society of Biology’s BioArtAttack competition with their Human Female Karyotype finger knitting. Up against several hundred entries from other schools, the girls’ knitted creation of 23 pairs of female chromosomes, known as a karyotypes, demonstrated the makeup of a human cell. Achieving recognition of this successful project by the leading professional body of the biological sciences was a real accolade for the Science Department at St Mary’s Senior School.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the critical role of women researchers in different stages of the fight against COVID-19, from advancing the knowledge on the virus, to developing techniques for testing, and finally to creating the vaccine against the virus. On 11 February 2021, the 6th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly will be held at the United Nations Headquarters virtually, and centres around the theme Beyond the Borders: Equality in Science for Society.

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