MORE than 70 girls from schools across York and North Yorkshire took part in a challenge to build their own hovercraft.

The SES Engineering Services’ Hovercraft Challenge held at the Mount School is now in its fifth year and aims to inspire budding female engineers.

Throughout the day, the school hosted workshops with Year Six girls from Belmont Grosvenor, The Mount Junior, St Paul’s School, St Wilfrid’s RC School, Terrington Hall and newcomers Hensall Primary.

The students worked together in teams alongside their own teaching staff and Sixth Form students from The Mount. Each craft was powered by a leaf blower engine in order to carry one ‘pilot’ from each team along a specially-built racing track.

At the end of the workshop the hovercrafts were judged for their design by SES’ planner Rachel Schofield and following a thrilling race, The Mount Junior team was presented with the winning trophy.

Ms Schofield said: “Hovercraft day has yet again been a great success. The girls showed persistence and innovation and the final designs were outstanding. It’s always inspiring to see the schools so passionate and supportive of their team mates and it really reflects the true spirit of the day. I have no doubt that in years to come some of these girls will be future SES employees – working on substantial projects in the community.

“As 2018 has been named The Year of Engineering, the hovercraft day perfectly replicates the campaign’s initiatives by challenging perceptions about engineering. Engineering touches every part of our lives however, not enough young people – especially young girls – think it’s a world for them.

“Equality and diversity have been a hot topic in the engineering sector for the last few years and it’s widely recognised that the industry is playing catch up."

Adrienne Richmond, Principal of The Mount, said: “It’s amazing to think that the first group of girls who came to The Mount to take part in SES’ Hovercraft Day are now preparing to sit for their GCSEs.

“I’d like to congratulate all the participants and hope this experience will broaden their horizons for what they can do in the future.

"Engineers creatively apply scientific knowledge to solve physical and conceptual ‘real world’ problems; it is important that more girls and women choose to work in this field and influence our emerging future. Girls’ schools have a key role to play because, as research shows, girls at girls’ schools perform better in STEM studies. The Mount is the region’s leading all-girls school for A-Level results. Last year, around half of our Upper Sixth Form left to study STEM courses at university."

“International Women’s Day is coming up on 8 March, and we hope that the girls who took part in this event will approach that day with a different perspective on how they can make a difference in the #PressForProgress campaign.”

MP for York Central, Rachael Maskell said of the event: “I support this event year on year and it’s wonderful to see The Mount School and SES Engineering Services again encouraging a future generation of female engineers.

“I hope SES’ annual Hovercraft Day events continue to encourage more girls to study engineering and physics and fill the skills gap the sector is currently suffering from. There really is no limit to what these girls can achieve.

“Hovercraft Day is a fantastic example of why The Year of Engineering and the Government’s commitment to ensuring we have a talented and forward-thinking engineering workforce is not only critical to a modern UK economy but to shaping how the world works.”

The teachers of all the participating schools were proud to see the girls work together and produce some innovative hovercrafts. Cheryl Snowden, Year Six Teacher at The Mount School described the event as ‘inspiring.’

Cheryl said: “It was great to see the girls developing important team work skills such as leadership and communication. Most importantly they were able to interact with Rachel from SES and The Mount Sixth Formers, showing them that there is a place for females in the engineering and science communities.”