Teams from four schools were set the task at the launch of a conference designed to get more girls interested in careers in engineering and science.
The teams – from Richmond, St Francis Xavier, Risedale and Bedale High Schools – all created a chair with varying degrees of stability using rolled sheets of newspaper which were compressed, glued and held together with cable ties.
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The winning school was judged to be the Richmond School and Sixth Form College team of Zenith Gubba, Abigail Jones, Kate Biggins, Shannon Foster, Caitlin Miller, Alec Arundell and Ellie Lund.
The launch event, at RAF Leeming, was held to promote the first Northern STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) conference to be held at the base on October 17 this year.
Among the speakers at the launch was Rishi Sunak, MP for Richmond, who said the small numbers of women in science and engineering sector was a missed opportunity for the economy.
“We do have a problem,” he said. “At present only eight per cent of engineers in this country are women and that needs to be fixed.
Mr Sunak said that as the father of two small daughters he was passionate about encouraging more girls to study STEM subjects.
“We need to inspire more young women to see science and engineering as a rewarding career and I am sure October’s conference will help us do that.”
Mr Sunak’s remarks were supported by the RAF’s Chief Engineer, Air Vice Marshall Sue Gray, who told the assembled pupils that her career looking after the airforce’s planes and equipment had been highly rewarding.
She said: “We desperately need more women doing engineering because, frankly, girls have skills and apptitudes that boys don’t and that’s really important for the future of British industry and technological innovation.”
Next October’s conference, organised by Soroptimists International of Richmond and the Dales, RAF Leeming and Women in Science and Engineering, will be attended by 200 pre-GCSE girl students.