A group of students from The Taunton Academy were invited to an international science conference in Belgium, as part of an EU project to promote the teaching of STEM subjects to teenagers. They presented their ideas to an audience from the Netherlands, Spain, Greece and Italy.

Last year students who at the time were in Year 9 were invited to take part in a research project in conjunction with Exeter University. They created experiments to see if they could promote an interest in STEM subjects and healthy lifestyles. The culmination of this collaboration was a trip to Belgium in October this year, where they took part in SEEDS (Scientific Engagement for Adolescents), an international academic conference in Brussels.

SEEDS aims to foster science literacy and STEM education by raising health awareness through the empowerment of young people in critical thinking skills, and by designing interventions that seed interest in science. It is particularly aimed at children from lower-income areas. Students co-create tools for interventions to empower them to improve their health, via a series of “makeathons”.

TTA students were invited to present at the conference in front of peers from each of the different nationalities. They each discussed the interventions that they designed, created and implemented – ranging from healthy eating options to ways of including more exercise in their daily lives.

On the first evening students had the chance to meet other delegates from the Netherlands, Spain, Greece and Italian whilst experiencing Greek cuisine. At the end of the conference, there was time for some cultural sightseeing in Brussels with the students visiting both the Grand Place and the famous Manneken Pis statue.

Staff from The Taunton Academy and Exeter University were incredibly impressed and proud of the way that our students handled themselves, taking it upon themselves to consistently initiate communications with the other students of all nationalities and especially in the way that they each articulated their points of view on the rostrum.

Acting TTA Headteacher Lisa Webber shared “We relish the chance to give our students exciting and challenging opportunities, so we were delighted to support this trip to Brussels. We are very proud of our excellent student scientists and grateful to the staff for giving up their time.”

The photo shows Students from Taunton Academy with Dr Chris Elphick from Exeter University presenting at the Seeds Academic Conference.