The Highgate STEM Conference

Today I presented my research and gave a brief overview of Imperial College at Highgate School in North West London. Highgate is a beautiful school which has super modern physics labs and a very young switched on team of science teachers. They have their own weekend ‘masterclasses‘ for students of all ages, they learn about maths with Rubens tubes and they offer these opportunities to all the schools around them. They organise an awesome annual STEM conference where different scientists come together to talk about where they work and what they’re doing. I’m sure not many mothers read my blog, but if you do and you’re pro science, I’d think about sending your kids to Highgate or try and attend one of their events.

The students had a great timetable- they learnt about fractals, symmetry, bubbles, nanoparticles, data encryption, quantum mechanics, robotics, atmospheric chemistry and plastic electronics! There were lots of girls and boys from Alexandra Park School, Camden School for Girls, UCL Academy and Highgate.

I spoke about Imperial, doing a physics degree, plastic electronics, dancing pentacene molecules, the dyson school for engineering, Imperial College west and philae! My slides were made on keynote so they are HUGE (i went large on images and videos) but you can download a cropped / video-less version here.

The audience were super fun and super responsive. I had so many people excited about using conducting polymers and looking at their different bonds with Raman spectroscopy- I’ve had 3 e-mails since I got back this evening ! So many boys and girls are coming along to the IC open day next week (check them out here) and everyone loved their IC WiP pens! I had good questions too- how can you make a plastic solar panel without melting the plastic? What kind of industrial placements they could do in the CPE?

Over lunch I hid out in the staff room, which is basically the biggest privilege you get as a visitor. It’s quite funny to sit in staff rooms having spent sizeable parts of my life thinking of them as mysterious boxes where you had to go if you’d done something wrong! It’s also quite funny hearing about what teachers talk about- house prices, diets, sweet potatoes, where to send their kids to school. What I saw over the whole day was a school where both the students and staff are happy to be.

The poster session was fun too- I gave out 50 prospectuses, all of my leaflets on the global summer school, all of my dyson school of engineering flyers- just too much IC interest. Highlight for sure was UCL showing up for the party- they have just gone ‘paperless’ and no longer give out prospectuses. Not sure where I stand on this one – pretty hilarious if you ask me.

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