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Ada Lovelace Day 2023: Empowering Women In STEM

This October, we ran our sixth annual event for Ada Lovelace Day in partnership with Pioneer Group.

Our goal was simple – to inspire the next generation of women science, and all the human & planetary health discoveries they may uncover. To amplify women’s presence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through inspiration and guidance for future generations of STEM professionals.

Over two days, almost 400 school children participated in our interactive workshops held at eight Pioneer Group locations around the UK, including BioCity Nottingham, Wilton Centre, Kent Science Park, Hexagon Tower, BioCity Glasgow, Edinburgh Technopole, Colworth Science Park, and MediCity Nottingham.

Day One: BioCity Nottingham

Three local primary schools visited BioCity Nottingham, by walking from their schools or taking the tram, to enjoy six science workshops during day one of our Ada Lovelace Day 2023 celebrations. 150 year 6 pupils took part in the following activities:

  • Selecting the best fungi for making blue cheese with Myconeos

  • Designing inventions with HGF

  • Dissolving different types of sugars with Sygnature Discovery

  • Identifying river pollutants & waste decomposing times with the Environment Agency

  • Optical Illusions with Exonate

  • Chromatography with Reach Separations

The different sessions aimed to celebrate the achievements of women in STEM and connect potential future scientists with real scientists from within the Pioneer Group community. Quotes from pupils included, 'BioCity is amazing', 'I did not know that mouldy cheese was so fascinating' and " I liked the lhe lab because it was cool'.

Day Two: Events at multiple Pioneer Group sites

On Tuesday 10th October, 25 schools took part in events at other Pioneer Group locations across the UK, in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Kent, Manchester, North Yorkshire and Bedford, events which we at Ignite! had been consulting on in the run up. We also led out flagship event at MediCity Nottingham, which was attended by 160 key stage three girls from Nottingham, Nottinghamshire and Derby schools. Across all of the events, pupils got stuck in with hands-on workshops, learning about careers in STEM and the practical applications of several fields of science.

The workshops were expertly facilitated by companies from the Pioneer Group community, who generously volunteered their expertise. At the MediCity event, activities were delivered by Locate Bio, Chain Biotech, Agility Life Sciences, Freenome Ltd, NuVision, Porterhouse Medical, University of Nottingham and Wollaton Hall. We were also joined by researchers from the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford, who's engagement in the day was supported by a grant from the UK Science Festivals Network.

Quotes from pupils included, 'It was a wonderful experience', ' I enjoyed going to lots of activities and learning different things and seeing different types of science' and 'I enjoyed learning about all the links to science such as maths and what degrees you need'.

Dr Lisa Thomas, Venture Development Partner at Pioneer Group, said: “It has been a privilege to be involved with this event, which is inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers. My passion for science started when I was a schoolgirl, so I’m very pleased Pioneer Group and ignite! are hosting such a great programme for these young scientists at the beginning of their journey. This year, we were delighted to extend the event across seven of our Pioneer locations, connecting more schools across the UK with our fantastic community of STEM companies.”

Megan Shore, Programmes Manager at Ignite!, said: “We are so pleased to see this event go from strength to strength each year, and to enable more pupils to see behind the scenes and find out about the most innovative and ground-breaking science, following the legacy of Ada Lovelace. It’s been fantastic to see the ambition of the project grow, with sites right across the UK taking part.”

Who was Ada Lovelace?

Born in 1815, Ada Lovelace collaborated with inventor Charles Babbage on his general-purpose computing machine, the Analytical Engine. In 1843, she published what we would now call a computer program to generate Bernoulli Numbers. Lovelace was the first person to foresee the creative potential of the Engine. Her vision of computing’s possibilities was unmatched by any of her peers and went unrecognised for a century.

Ada Lovelace Day was founded by Suw Charman-Anderson in 2009 as a celebration aimed at highlighting the achievements of women in STEM fields and fostering the creation of new role models who can inspire young individuals to pursue STEM careers. Ignite!'s partnership with Pioneer Group has been running events in celebration of this occasion since 2018. Find out more about Ada Lovelace Day here.


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