The pupils, who are all studying at least three STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects at A Level, leapt at the opportunity to go on the trip and see the latest innovations in renewable energy.
Wildpoldsried, which has 2600 inhabitants, is an ultra-sustainable, low-emission village which is leading the way in renewable energy. The village has 11 wind turbines, 5000 square metres of solar panels, biogas farms and a hydropower system, along with many other eco-friendly technologies. As a result, it has gone beyond energy independence – and it now produces 500% more energy than it needs and profits from sales of the surplus power back to the grid.
Since returning from the trip in February, the pupils are now set on studying STEM subjects at university and going into science-related jobs. They are also determined to act as science ambassadors, harnessing enthusiasm for the subject among other female students. The girls are now urging their female contemporaries to consider scientific career paths, and they’ve been holding assemblies on STEM and renewable energy. Last month, the teens held assemblies on STEM and renewable energy.
“The trip has been a huge success,” said Shrutee Desai, assistant headteacher and head of sixth form at Rushcliffe. “The girls have come back not only keen to pursue careers in science, but also careers specifically associated with recycling and eco-friendly communities. There are likely to be great opportunities for scientists to work in this area in the future and great opportunities for girls to lead on design ideas.
“Our teachers actively encourage girls to view these subjects as something for everyone to access. The numbers of girls in Maths, Chemistry and Physics has continued to increase, and in Maths there is now an equal uptake. This year Physics has become really popular and uptake at A level is well above national average.”
On each day of the trip the pupils visited different renewable energy sites, such as a waste combustion plant and a factory making solar batteries. They saw a rotating solar house, where the whole building rotates with the sun and at the same time presses rape seeds to make biofuel for tractor, and they got to build their own solar suitcases. The young ambassadors heard talks from high-profile energy organisations such as 2041 Foundation, and also completed a Level 3 Award in the Rational Use of Renewable Energy during the trip.