Pupils take part in pilot STEM event at ExxonMobil Fawley

Building towers from dry spaghetti strands and marshmallows was one of the activities at a pilot event aimed at encouraging more girls to follow science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

More than 50 Year 6 girls from Blackfield Primary School and Wildground Junior School were invited to ExxonMobil at Fawley to take part in the event, which saw a morning of fun presentations and activities.

The event kicked off with an introduction from Fawley’s Refinery Manager Jon Wetmore.

He welcomed the students to the site and encouraged them to aim high in the future. “You can be whatever you want to be,” he told them. “The opportunities are there for you.”

The girls were then split into groups with the task of building a tower from spaghetti strands and marshmallows. There was varied success, with the teams tempted to eat their building blocks finding out that this was not helpful for solid construction!

Following their practical introduction to engineering, the youngsters were then treated to a refinery roadshow from Eddie Henbury.

Eddie, who is a STEM ambassador and works at Fawley on the CAT plant, kept the girls and their teachers enthralled with his explosive experiments and unique brand of humour.

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This set the scene perfectly for a coach tour of the site, where the girls were given an overview of the refining and chemical operations.

There was then just time to hand out some prizes for the tower-building task, along with lunch and goody bags, before the girls headed back to their respective schools.

The event was organised by the Fawley Women’s Interest Network (WIN), in collaboration with the site’s Community Affairs department.

Claire Renshaw, who is part of the WIN group, said: “Encouraging girls to follow STEM subjects is something we really want to try and promote.

This pilot event was a great way of getting pupils from local schools to be able to engage with our engineers and other employees.

Hopefully, they not only had lots of fun, but also went away from Fawley with the knowledge that they can strive for a career in this kind of industry and achieve their goals.”

Alison Jones, Community Affairs Manager, added: “We were delighted to invite the pupils to Fawley as part of this pilot event. It went extremely well and is definitely something which we will look to repeat in the future.”