Professor Brian Cox Inspires The Next Generation At North Star Science School Event

Around 500 students from 48 schools across South Yorkshire were inspired by Britain’s leading physicist Professor Brian Cox at an exciting event organised by The Work-wise Foundation in partnership with Well North Enterprises, held at Gulliver’s Valley in Rotherham recently.

Students and home-educated families were introduced to the wide range of careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) as there is a growing need for new recruits in these industries.

Professor Brian Cox CBE, Britain’s leading physicist and science communicator and Co-Founder of Science Summer School, said at the event: “Here in the UK we have a major shortage in scientists and engineers.

“But how are young people expected to know what the opportunities are? They have most likely never considered that one day they could be an astronomer, biologist or space craft engineer. There are hundreds, probably thousands of potential careers, futures they could choose, but have never heard of.

“The idea of the North Star event is to put forward science and technology career ideas to inspire young people. Also, really importantly I think, it’s an opportunity for them to make connections with people in industry, people in universities, in colleges, apprenticeships; to find out more and make useful connections for the future.”

Hosted by Alex Gardner, Managing Director of Smile Business Support, other speakers at the event included Ruth Amos, former Young Engineer for Britain, entrepreneur, and STEM Ambassador, plus Melanie Oldham OBE, Founder of Bob’s Business and Director of Yorkshire Cyber Security Cluster, and Professor Simon Goodwin, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Sheffield.

In addition, Lord Andrew Mawson, Executive Chair of Well North Enterprises, presented to students via live link from the Cunard liner, Queen Elizabeth. He focused on maritime careers and used the Starlink satellite system created by SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

John Barber, CEO of The Work-wise Foundation, said: “The Work-wise Foundation was proud to present the North Star Science School again this year. Every year we listen to feedback from teachers and pupils and add exciting new workshops and speakers. We’ve had tremendous feedback from the day, with pupils learning by interacting with businesses and new technologies, informing and inspiring them and broadening horizons for future career choices.”

This year’s event involved 16 workshops, offering a diverse range of hands-on experiences. Workshops ranged from uncovering the science of chocolate and exploring thermal imaging technology to understanding why chocolate cools. Other workshops consisted of making sand moulds by pouring low-temperature alloys, building and controlling a hydraulic crane and learning the science and art of brickmaking.

One Teacher commented: “The hands-on workshops are really good, students are keen and engaged with opportunities they don't get in school.They really loved them.”

Leading organisations AESSEAL, AMRC Training Centre, Barratt Developments, CBE+, Esh Group, Forged Solutions, Ibstock, AMETEK Land, UK Atomic Energy Authority and United Cast Bar delivered STEAM-inspired workshops during the event. Additional intriguing workshops, kindly sponsored by Doncaster Council, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, and Sheffield City Council, also took place.

One business which ran a workshop said: “This event has been one of the best organised I have dealt with. The whole team are so friendly and helpful and it was a real privilege to take part”

The North Star Science School, organised by The Work-wise Foundation, is part of the Science Summer School national initiative co-founded in 2012 by Professor Brian Cox CBE and Lord Andrew Mawson OBE, aiming to make the UK the best place in the world to do science and engineering. It is presented in partnership with Well North Enterprises, a social enterprise business led by Lord Mawson.

Catherine Smith, Chief Executive Officer at Well North Enterprises (WNE), said: “NorthStar was an event that showed Rotherham at its best and as a catalyst bringing private and public sectors in South Yorkshire together in support of our future generation of scientists and engineers.

“The innovative and entrepreneurial participation of our core partners, Work-wise and Gulliver's Valley, and the generosity of the many organisations funding this fantastic enterprise, wholeheartedly underpins that we should all be celebrating 'Remarkable Rotherham’. WNE looks forward to working with all current and new partners to help ensure North Star continues this vital work in 2024 and beyond”

North Star 2023 is made possible through support and funding provided by local businesses and authorities. This year’s sponsors include AESSeal, AMETEK Land, AMRC Training Centre, Barratt Developments Plc, CBE+, Doncaster Council, Esh Group, Forged Solutions Group, Gulliver’s, Ibstock Plc, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, Sheffield City Council, UK Atomic Energy Authority and United Cast Bar in collaboration with Cast Metals Federation.

A sponsor of the North Star Science event shared: “I knew this was a big event and the crux was to inspire and enthuse and it was really good to have those pre-meetings to set that expectation. I absolutely loved the concept of co-designing with a school, not only did this give us an excellent workshop for the day, but I now have an activity and workshop that can be scaled up or down depending on age range and time, but I know it's got all the education elements as well as industry elements covered.”

The North Star Science Event will return to South Yorkshire in 2024.

Marina Wood or Courtney Chandler: /

The Work-wise Foundation was founded in 2011 as an employer-led initiative for
engineering, manufacturing and other related sectors. The organisation supports the
development of young people, so they have the knowledge, skills, aptitude and opportunities
for employment within South Yorkshire. 
Through The Foundation, which became a registered charity in 2014, the private sector is
practically and strategically taking the lead in helping to prepare young people for
employment and careers. To achieve this, The Work-wise Foundation helps employers to
establish links with young people, develop strategies and programmes and delivers training
and practical guidance to make it happen. 
Now, annually the team delivers more than 10,000 work-related experiences for young
people in South Yorkshire through a wide range of programmes. These include the North
Star Science School, Summer Academy, What Employers Want Conferences, primary and
secondary STEMfest days, educational programmes based around Vulcan to the Sky Trust,
sector routeways into engineering and manufacturing and its flagship event, Get up to Speed
with STEM. [E7] 
 *As part of North Star Science event, local businesses and schools worked in partnership on several workshop challenges.
This includes:

  • AMETEK Land with Sheffield Girls High School
  • Barratt Developments Plc with Brinsworth Academy
  • CBE+ with Newfield Secondary School
  • CPH2 with Ridgewood School
  • Forged Solutions Group with Don Valley Oasis Academy
  • Ibstock Plc with Wales High School
  • UK Atomic Energy Authority with Sheffield Park Academy
  • VolkerRail with Hayfield School
  • Vulcan to the Sky Trust with Doncaster UTC

Science Summer School
The Science Summer School programme started life in 2012 in a failing East London
secondary school.  It was co-founded by Professor Brian Cox CBE and Lord Andrew
Mawson OBE following Andrew’s leadership in the regeneration of a street in Tower Hamlets
in East London. This brought together a new £16m health centre, the £40m St Paul’s Way
Trust School, 600 homes, a new primary school and two formerly warring communities into
the first integrated campus of its kind in the country.
St Paul’s Way Trust School has placed science at the heart of the school curriculum and a
process of learning by doing is encouraged.  From being a school without a sixth form, the
school saw 66% of sixth-form students progress to Elite Russell Group Universities in 2020.
The Science Summer School has been a catalyst for change both in school, raising student
aspiration and achievement, and in the local community illustrating the connective power of
STEAM in bringing a joined-up entrepreneurial approach to placemaking.