New iStem centre plays host to young scientists from across the county

L-R Lauren Fairfax from Corpus Christi Catholic High School, winner of Best Lab Skills and Rebecca Kay, iSTEM operations manager at Preston's College

L-R Lauren Fairfax from Corpus Christi Catholic High School, winner of Best Lab Skills and Rebecca Kay, iSTEM operations manager at Preston's College

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More than 130 Year nine students from high schools across Lancashire converged on Preston’s College to take part in a Chemistry at Work challenge.

Held in the Fulwood college’s £13m iSTEM Centre in conjunction with STEMFirst, the Royal Society of Chemistry and Cogent, the day involved a range of exciting Science Technology, Engineering and Maths experiments and workshops.

The event, aimed at helping students explore different careers available in chemistry, saw 11 high schools put their science skills to the test.

Challenges included designing a water filter, analysing food for vitamin C content and chemistry career workshops.

One of the top prizes for the challenges went to Penwortham Girls High School, who, in the water filter challenge, recorded the fastest time for designing and building a device that could effectively clean dirty ground water.

Several students were also recognised for essential employability skills such as teamwork, creativity and lab procedure.

Helen Heggie, chartered engineer and director of STEMFirst said: “Students need to be able to apply, communicate and adapt their knowledge in order to be successful in the workplace – and this event gave them a taster of what it would be like to work in the industry.

“The College’s iSTEM Centre was the perfect setting for what was an extremely enjoyable day. Our aim at STEMFirst is to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists, because STEM is essential for society - engineers and scientists keep us safe, develop solutions to problems, improve our way of life and push the boundaries of our understanding.

Rebecca Kay, iSTEM operations manager at Preston’s College, added: “The students worked considerably hard and really got stuck in on the day.

“Events like this help to spark a young person’s interest in science and hopefully by giving them an insight into this exciting career, we will inspire some to pursue this path in the future and enable us to reach the one million new technicians and engineers needed in the UK by 2020.

Workshops were delivered by local STEM employers.