DOZENS of girls from across the North-East donned lab coats and got stuck into coding, chemistry and robotics as part of a day to encourage more women into engineering.

Stanley Black and Decker hosted the free STEMfest day at UTC South Durham, Newton Aycliffe, yesterday, which attracted 60 youngsters aged between 11 and 15. Girls travelled from as far north as Newcastle and from as far south as Stockton to have a chance of taking part in a range of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) activities.

Rebecca Ogden, organiser and liability leader for the global manufacturer, said: “This has been about what we as a business can do for the community.

“The amount of girls in engineering is almost non-existent and the proportion of men to women is phenomenal.

“We have tried to get everything STEM related in and have left the girls to pick what interests them.

“If a girl has an interest in it (STEM) she should be able to get a chance to try it and we’re hoping that some girls will walk out of this and say ‘that’s what I want to do’.

“They are of the age when they are making decisions about what they want to do as potential careers.”

A series of workstations were set up across the University Technical College building for the day-long event where youngsters had the choice of four activities.

They could make a bath bomb to take home and learn the chemistry behind them, build a circuit board which replicated the workings of a street light or take part in a drill challenge - learning what the drill parts are, how they come together and how they can be used to assemble pipes within a wooden framework.

Some were set a coding challenge to get a frog through a river by avoiding dangers while others others were set to work in a STEM ‘escape room’ where they had to use equations, maths and physics to get the answers to unlock a safe. Welding was demonstrated using white chocolate and Firestorm from Robot Wars was on display to inspire the girls to get to grips with robotics.

Using partially built robots, participants completed the building of them and set out black tape on the ground which the robot was coded to follow.

Durham University Electric Motorsport (DUEM) team were also in attendance with their solar car while a ‘careers corner’ was there to offer advice to the girls.