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Northumberland College Host Antarctica Day NECOP masterclasses with Polar Scientists

Northumberland College Host Antarctica Day NECOP masterclasses with Polar Scientists  
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Northumberland College has launched a series of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) events to encourage young people in Northumberland to progress to higher education as part of the North East Collaborative Outreach Programme (NECOP).

The North East Collaborative Outreach Programme is a consortia of all of the universities and colleges in the North East region, working together to support young people in the North East by encouraging them to think about their future and look at progression pathways, helping them understand what higher education opportunities are available through a range of promotional events.

FutureMe is the programme of activity offered to students by NECOP partners in targeted areas and schools to promote progression to higher education.

The first FutureMe event held by Northumberland College, took place on Thursday, and coincided with Antarctica Day, which celebrates the signature of the Antarctica Treaty in 1959, conserving the interest of science and the progress of all human kind.

The full day agenda saw science and geography students from Berwick Academy and Prudhoe High School and students from the College's STEM, and countryside management programmes, come together to enjoy a series of activities connected with Antarctica science.

Activities took place within the College's brand-new £2.5M state-of-the-art STEM Centre at its Ashington Campus.

Highlights of the day included a live conference call with the Manager of the Bonner Laboratory in Rothera research station in the Antarctic Peninsula. The students also conducted a series of experiments looking at the effects of climate change, including sea level rise, ocean acidification and an Albedo experiment, which includes measuring the reflectance and optical brightness of a surface.

Two PhD Science students from Northumbria University, who specialise in microbial biodiversity in the polar region, Lewis Cuthbertson, from Newcastle, who works on the presence of microbes in the air over Antarctica and Lucie Malard, from France, who studies patterns of bacterial diversity in Arctic soils also addressed the budding scientists at the event.

Lucie's work has taken her to Denmark, Iceland, Greenland and Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic within the last year alone.

Lewis said: 'I feel sessions such as these are invaluable at this stage, as they allow us to bridge the divide between the serious classroom teaching and the more interesting and fun real world applications.'

Maria Avila, Northumberland College NECOP Widening Participation Coordinator said: "The activity has been a huge success. The students really enjoyed themselves and engaged well with the activities and guests. I think we are starting to change their perspective of what they can achieve in life with a higher education degree"

The College's £2.5m state-of-the-art STEM Centre at its Ashington campus, opened September 2017 and is home to specialist science and technology workshops with dedicated facilities that will include a class 10,000 clean room, Digital 3D imagery equipment, nanotechnology, microscopes, specialist chemicals and fab labs where budding product designers and entrepreneurs can access the latest in digital fabrication equipment for prototyping.

Principal and Chief Executive of Northumberland College, Marcus Clinton said: "There are skills shortages within science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) so it is great to be able to invite potential scientists and engineers of the future here to get a flavour for what they can do."

Further FutureMe events organised by Northumberland College are due to take place throughout the year in relation to the NECOP project, focusing on promoting the progression to higher education options for students in Northumberland                                                                              in STEM related subjects.

To find out more please visit www.northumberland.ac.uk/futureme