Ninth grade girls from six schools across Blackpool and Fleetwood attended the event at the University Library and Infolab Building, and got the chance to get hands-on with technology, look at cutting-edge research facilities and learn more about career opportunities available through computing and internet domains.
Pupils who attended were from Cardinal Allen Catholic High School, Fleetwood High School, Montgomery Academy, Armfield Academy, Highfield Leadership Academy, and St. Mary’s Catholic Academy in Blackpool and Fleetwood.
The event brought together academic experts from the School of Computing and Communications and Department of Physics at Lancaster University, and was supported by the Lancaster University-led Cyber Foundation and Cyber Girls First, an organization dedicated to inspiring school-aged girls to study computing, information technology and more. cyber domains.
Dr Kelly Weddicks, Lecturer in Computer Science in the School of Computing and Communications at Lancaster University and Chair of the School’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Cluster, said: “There is a significant gender imbalance in the computer science and digital sector in general. As a university, we want to help address this imbalance. By encouraging girls to use computing from an early age, and inspiring outreach activities with groups like Cyber Girls First is an essential part of making this happen.”
During the day, the students enjoyed an interactive tour where they were able to try virtual reality headsets and create motorized cars with robotic kits, followed by an online Lego activity that saw them play a role in a cybersecurity game where they ran a business.
The girls were then taken on a tour of the university’s IsoLab, a state-of-the-art private laboratory where vibrations, noise and electromagnetic disturbances were drastically reduced. It is used for quantum physics research, a leading field in cybersecurity. Students also participated in a corporate networking lunch and heard from inspiring visitors such as Mary Hamilton of Microsoft, a Lancaster alumnus.
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Rebecca Robinson, President of the Lancashire Cyber Foundation, said: “I am excited to help young people and prove that the online world has many wonderful career opportunities. The role-playing game in Cyber Security shows girls that they can become leaders who are able to make financial decisions about the security of their businesses. It is hoped that experiences like these will encourage other young people to start their computing journey.”
The party was attended by Pat Ryan of Cyber Girls First and Wendy Parmley, who is also a Lancaster alumnus. Pat said: “This event was what we hope will be the first of many visits by girls from Blackpool schools to Lancaster University to see the wonderful facilities on their doorstep. Wendy Parmley and I hoped for a positive response from the girls, but nothing prepared us For the excitement of the visit. This was only made possible by the generous amount of time the lecturers and staff gave to make this event a success.”