Powerful experience for STEM students
Sustainability is a buzz word across every aspect of our lives these days but it is being given particular importance in encouraging the next generation of female engineers, as girls at Sydenham High have been finding out.
Over the last two weeks (24 October-8 November), girls from the South London school were part of a group of thirty five Girls’ Day School Trust students visiting Wildpoldsried in Bavaria to study for a Level 3 Award in the Rational Use of Renewable Energy.
The trip, funded by Erasmus+, was led and delivered by Sasie Ltd and German partners Christiani GmbH, with support from School Energy Efficiency CIC. The aim of the trip was to encourage women into STEM careers and university choices, with a focus on renewable energy and sustainability.
Wildpoldsried was the perfect base for the educational experience as the village generates 600 per cent of its annual electricity demand through renewable integrated technologies such as: biogas plants, wind turbines, district heating system, biomass and combined heat and power plants.
Students began the trip by constructing their very own mini solar PV system inside a case (pictured), under the expert guidance of the solar case manufacturers Christiani GmbH. Daily trips extended to local universities and colleges, a waste combustion plant, hydroelectric power plants, Elektro Guggenmoos GmbH, Sonnenbatterie GmbH and the construction of a brand new 150m wind turbine.
Teaching and qualification material was supplemented with inspirational talks and interactive presentations from organisations such as 2041, 5 Gyres and Barefoot College. Students are now engaged within a variety of campaigns related to human impact on the environment, which they will take back to their school communities.
“Having always learned from a book, being actually able to come and see these technologies in practice have made me realise that the age of the renewables is now and not just a strategy for the future,” said Year 12 Sydenham High student Greta.
Head of Science at Sydenham High, Janie Tilley said: “This trip has given our students experiences beyond the classroom. They have developed their skills as independent learners through this university-style learning method. In addition, the unique opportunity of Q&A over Skype with inspirational speakers at the cutting edge of sustainable development has broadened their horizons and understanding of the opportunities available to them.”
Another trip is planned for February 2016, with places still available for interested students.