Forty-five Columbans set out for an exciting day of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) activities at Thornton College, our partner school. We arrived ready for a Cyber Security Workshop run by Her Majesty’s Government Communications Centre (HMGCC).
Students were given an encryption challenge, and a sequence of numbers were displayed on screen, with the task being to discover the hidden message. Computers use ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) to represent letters, ‘A’ being represented by the number 65 and so on. By taking the numbers and converting them to letters, students were able to get half way towards solving the puzzle. Once the ASCII numbers had been converted to letters, the message still did not make sense because a Caesar Cipher had been applied to them. By following this process, the students were able to discover the true message, which turned out to be “It is our individuality that sets us apart”. Students solving the problem were awarded a commemorative medal by HMGCC.
After a very welcome boarding school supper with the Thornton girls, a further 25 Columbans joined us for an exhibition of STEM opportunities which began with a graphic demonstration of the manoeuvrability of Reach Robotics’ MekaMon in a fight with a virtual opponent.
The boys were then able to visit the 16 companies’ stands to learn of the range of opportunities available in engineering, automotive, finance, robotics and the lucrative nutrition, hygiene and personal care sectors. Many of these do not require science A-Levels, though the companies were looking for applicants whose brains think differently, it is our creativity individuality that indeed sets us apart!
The organisations that took part included: AECOM, Aon, HMGCC, ICAEW, KPMG, Leica Geosystems, M-EC, Mercedes Benz, National Apprenticeship Service, RAF, Renault Sport Racing, Siemens, Sir Robert McAlpine, Tesla, Unilever and Vodaphone.
Thanks to Thornton College and its Careers department for their superb organisation and generosity.