Solvay science day success at Priestley

Solvay 9 webPriestley teamed up with a leading chemical company last week to inspire scientists of the future.

The college invited more than 60 pupils from Sir Thomas Boteler and St Gregory’s as well as the Beamont Collegiate Academy into college to meet experts from Solvay.

They also discovered what learning is like in a college laboratory and took part in a maths challenge.

Priestley Tutor Shahida Khanam, who coordinated the event, said: “It was an opportunity for us and for the pupils to interact with local industry. We hope those who took part will be inspired to pursue science in future either in education or in a career.”

The third annual Solvay Conference staged by Priestley focused on green energy and sustainability.

During the day pupils – with the support of more than 30 college students – investigated the impact of global warning on the environment and species biodiversity and built waterwheels.

Naomi Smith, Education Manager at space observatory Jodrell Bank, discussed atoms, radiation and the universe.

Solvay’s Managing Director Len Sharpe also spoke to, and answered questions from, students on Priestley’s Graduate programme, which is designed to help top performing learners reach the UK’s best universities.

Martin Griffiths, of Solvay, said taking part in the conference was a way of continuing the work of their founder who established the ‘Solvay Physics Council’ which attracted many eminent scientists including Marie Curie and Albert Einstein.

“Ernest Solvay was passionate about science and we see this conference as a way of continuing his legacy,” he said. “We are not looking at this from Solvay’s point of view, but to inspire young people to provide future scientific developments which will benefit society at large.”

Last year Priestley became the first sixth form college in the country to receive STEM-assured status.

The prestigious honour put the college on a list of the UK’s top providers of education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths and confirmed the college is successfully preparing students for university and employment.

STEM status is only given to institutions that support the needs of business and industry through specialist teaching and training in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

During last week’s Solvay Conference Mayor Ted Finnegan said he hoped the occasion would inspire the pupils to greater things.

“I’d like to see as many of you as possible getting those top degrees so you will be of interest to the employers working in these technical areas,” he said.

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