F1 ace salutes school's STEM champs

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A physics assignment to design energy-efficient packaging for a fizzy drink led to a group of Surrey school girls getting the chance to meet Formula 1 ace Jenson Button.

A physics assignment to design energy-efficient packaging for a fizzy drink led to a group of Surrey school girls getting the chance to meet Formula 1 ace Jenson Button.

The girls, from co-ed St Andrew’s Catholic School in Leatherhead, Surrey, not only won first place in a national science challenge with their design but also went on to represent the UK in a Europe-wide version of the competition.

The annual Sci-Tech Challenge was launched by Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise Europe in 2010 and is designed to encourage 15 to 18-year-olds to study science, technology, engineering and maths at university.

It is run in conjunction with schools in nine European countries and after winning the UK’s national challenge the St Andrew’s team travelled to Rotterdam to take part in the European Sci-Tech Challenge earlier this year.

The students all competed in mixed teams and Emma Chambers, one of the St Andrew’s students, took second place with her group.

Energy company ExxonMobil, the main sponsor of the competition, then invited the St Andrew’s team to its Surrey headquarters last month to meet former Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button.

The challenge is a done-in-one-day workshop focused on fostering problem-solving and innovation skills across the fields of maths, science and technology. Students are given a specific challenge to solve which has been designed and presented by business people and industry experts.

The St Andrew’s team was made up of Kathryn Budd, Emma Chambers, Charlotte Smith, Sarah Harcourt-Vernon and Arielli Duarte, who are now in year 11. The girls were so enthused by their project that two of them are now considering studying physics at A level. “It was a fantastic achievement,” said assistant headteacher and physics teacher Kay McGregor. “Meeting Jenson Button was the icing on the cake. He was very impressed that they had won this national competition.”

For more information and details of the 2012 results, visit http://scitech.ja-ye.org/

CAPTION: Sci-Tech: British Formula 1 driver Jenson Button meets the winning team from St Andrew’s Catholic School (top); the grand finals of the Sci-Tech challenge saw students from nine countries working together (middle)


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