Excelling in STEM

UK Mathematics Trust’s Senior Mathematical Challenge

From excelling in competitions to taking part in workshops and listening to inspiring speakers, the first half of the school year has seen pupils enjoy a wide range of additional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) activities. 

Brian Cox lecture

We encourage our pupils to explore subjects that excite them and expand their opportunities, supporting them in nationwide competitions, encouraging them to join groups and explore co-curricular events.

We’ve had a great start to the 2018-2019 school year, with pupils winning awards and enjoying different STEM related events; here’s a round-up of the key stories so far.

Well done to the 49 pupils who were awarded certificates in the UK Mathematics Trust’s Senior Mathematical Challenge. Nick Dow, Alex Hewetson, Lauryn Howard, Max Howe, Naomi Littlewood, Nikita Murray and Alex Pollard were awarded gold, 17 others gained silver and 25 got a bronze certificate.

Third Year pupil Peter Walker has demonstrated his impressive coding and computer skills at this year’s Hack Manchester CIC Junior. Peter and his team produced a voice controlled Alexa skill to help work out when a user should go to bed, based on their age and what time they wanted to wake. Their “ambitious but technically well executed” result saw them win their challenge category. This was Peter’s second win in three years of taking part and is a further fantastic achievement when you consider that he was competing against teams of varying ages, including A-level students.

Hack Manchester CIC Junior

Sixth Form pupils Jake Wyatt-Thomas, Nikita Murray, Lauryn Howard and Beth Taylor performed well as they tackled a number of difficult problems as a team, scoring highly in the UK Mathematics Trust Senior Team Maths Challenge at The University of Manchester.

UK Mathematics Trust Senior Team Maths Challenge

October saw Upper Sixth pupils Nick Dow, Alex Hewetson, Max Howe and Alex Pollard come second in the Liverpool Physics Olympics after winning one challenge against 25 other teams, a great triumph for our students.

Physics Olympiad

Scientific pupils attended two fascinating medical lectures to build upon what they have been learning in lessons. The first lecture, which was led by doctors and clinical physiologists from Manchester Royal Infirmary (Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust), was about touch sensitivity and how pain is not something that can be ‘clinically’ diagnosed. 

Brian Cox Lecture

The second lecture was delivered by Professor Brian Cox who gave an enthralling talk which was a sneak preview of the lecture that he has prepared to tour nationally early next year. It covered many interesting topics including the origin of the universe, relativity and time dilation and the warping of space-time by mass. His clear explanations were accompanied by excellent graphics and imagery from satellite and ground based telescopes using ultra-high resolution technology.


In November, twenty Sixth Form mathematicians enjoyed a day at the Royal Northern College of Music for a Maths Inspiration lecture. The day was hosted by ‘stand-up mathematician’ Matt Parker and featured talks from three inspirational speakers.

The first talk was from Jennifer Rogers, a research fellow at the University of Oxford and an expert statistician in TV programmes Long Live Britain and Mystery Map. Her talk, entitled ‘Risky Business’, delved into numbers to show attendees how statistics can help you to make better decisions about risky activities.

Ben Sparks, a mathematician and musician who works at the University of Bath, explored how circles can be a source of beauty, awe and mystery and how Maths can be, literally, moving, in his talk ‘Windmills of Your Mind’.

Last up was David Acheson and his talk ‘Pi, Pizza and the Electric Guitar’. The author, guitar player and fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, has appeared on BBC’s Tomorrow’s World and he looked at how Maths is all around us – from infinite series in the living room, pi in the kitchen, catastrophe theory in the bathroom and circle geometry in the garage!

Maths Inspiration Lecture

A-level Chemistry pupils enjoyed listening to talks from leading chemists in academia and industry at a ‘Chemistry in Action’ lecture day at The University of Salford. Award-winning science journalist Kit Chapman from the magazine Chemistry World talked about how to discover a new element, David K Smith from the University of York explored how drugs work and the University of Glasgow’s Jamie Gallagher spoke about the properties of plastic and how to tackle the plastic problem.

Synthetic chemist and broadcaster Andrea Sella gave a talk on strange ice whilst Rachel Bolton-King from Staffordshire University spoke about how she uses cutting-edge techniques to reveal hidden evidence at crime scenes.


Mangahigh competition

Each term we hold a maths Mangahigh competition that sees pupils complete tasks online where they can receive a medal (gold, silver and bronze) depending on how highly they score and the level of the questions they answer. The tasks are adaptive so they get harder as they get questions correct. In the first half term, 1R won with a fantastic 626 medal points, with Zak Hodgkinson-Stefanelli collecting an amazing 157 medal points!


Fifth Year pupil Matthew Byle picked up two impressive awards at a STEM course at RAF College Cranwell in Lincolnshire. The intense course, which involved 10 hours of written work and 15 hours of project work, saw him create designs for planes and test how they would work. His hard work paid off as he was awarded both the Industrial Cadet Silver Award and the CREST Engineering Silver Award.

RAF College Cranwell
The course and his Design Technology work in school complemented each other well and he was also able to use some of the skills he had learned during his Duke of Edinburgh activities.
The experience has encouraged him to look into a career in aerospace engineering.


Sixth Form pupils attended a Physics in Action (Education in Action) lecture at The University of Salford where they heard talks from five inspiring speakers. Ceri Brenner from the Science and Technology Facilities Council discussed what happens to stuff when you shoot it with the most powerful laser in the world, mathematician and physicist Mark Lewney talked about predicting the future and Rhys Phillips, a research engineer from the Airbus Group, spoke about what happens to aircraft when hit by lightning.

Writer and broadcaster Simon Singh told the story behind one of the greatest questions in the history of humanity – “Where did the universe come from?” Linnéa Freear, a Radiotherapy Physicist at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, delivered a talk about how radiation is used to kill cancer cells.

Throughout the school year, we will continue to create exciting STEM opportunities to help develop enthusiastic and passionate scientists and mathematicians.

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