ZeroLight attended the Girls In STEM Event for the third consecutive year on Tuesday. Organised by Accenture, the event has grown from 300 school girls from the Newcastle area in 2015 to an international day hosted simultaneously in cities across the UK and the world. ZeroLight was invited to demo their mobile Virtual Reality solution in the Innovation Lounge, which showcased the growing number of STEM careers available to students.
The morning began with Accenture MD Mark Larsen addressing over 200 11 - 15 year olds on the importance of STEM for life, from pharmaceuticals to software engineering, geology to medicine, Mr Larsen highlighted just how necessary STEM is to wider society. Dr Carol Davenport, Director of Think Physics, an organisation that looks to encourage young people into Physics, brilliantly rendered her path to her current position, and how it evolved from decisions taken at crucial junctures such as choosing school subjects and graduation, to a career path she could not have imagined. The emphasis was clearly that you don't have to have your whole life planned out to succeed, sometimes, it happens one step at a time, a message that is likely to be reassuring at any age. Next was Shalini Chaudhari, Managing Director and Testing Services Lead for EALA at Accenture, who spoke on her life as a woman in a STEM field, and the privilege she had to be a lifelong learner, still educating herself daily to remain on the cutting edge of technology.
Throughout the day, the young students were involved in STEM-related workshops, challenges and activities. Amongst these was the AppShed coding and robotics challenge which had girls building and coding their own driverless car in teams. Prizes were given at the end of the day for some of the most innovative creations. On social media, #GirlsInSTEM was trending at 7th place on Twitter in the UK as hundreds of people tweeted about the event. At the same time, Accenture published new statistics on the perceptions young people, particularly girls, have of STEM subjects. Over a third of young people put off choosing STEM subjects because they are unsure of what careers they could lead to (Accenture). In addition, more girls are likely to see STEM subjects as ‘academic' and ‘boring' compared to boys (Accenture). This makes exposure to STEM companies, in positive environments such as at the Girls In STEM events, highly necessary for encouraging more young people into STEM careers and ZeroLight is delighted to be a part of this important new movement. This is just one of the ways we engage with young people throughout the year, outlining what STEM careers could entail. In the course of the year, we invite a range of university student groups to our studio, as well as maintaining relationships with local higher education institutions, and personal initiatives by staff such as code clubs.