Schools

Altrincham schoolgirls’ backpack invention wins place at national finals

By David Prior at

Inventive young minds at Loreto Grammar School have won the Greater Manchester heat of Cisco’s Little Big Award for delivering brilliant new ideas for everyday internet connectivity.

The team of Year 7 and Year 8 pupils was the youngest of the five teams entered by the Altrincham school, and now head to Cisco’s London headquarters next month for the national finals.

The girls dreamed up, but then just as importantly planned out, an idea to connect their backpacks to the internet to allow them to explore the world around them more freely with their parents still knowing their exact location.

Flora Beasley, 12, said: “We are not limiting the idea to a backpack; you could connect your scarf or your dog’s collar to the Internet.” Hannah Bowler, 11, added that ”our device can be traceable anywhere”.

Pictured with Mrs Manton and the CISCO trophy are (l to r) Natalya Fogarty, Hannah Bowler, Katie Wilkinson and Flora Beasley. Miriam Oronsaye was also a key team member

Pictured with Mrs Manton and the CISCO trophy are (l to r) Natalya Fogarty, Hannah Bowler, Katie Wilkinson and Flora Beasley. Miriam Oronsaye was also a key team member

Loreto also has three older age teams which have reached the finals of the National Big Bang in Birmingham next month, where they will showcase their inventions.

Loreto’s national expert STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering and and Mathematics) teacher Elaine Manton, who was the only teacher in Europe invited to sit on an influential advisory board in Brussels planning the future of STEM teaching across the Continent, runs a range of STEM related clubs at Loreto, with some 50 11 to 18 year-olds attending at lunchtimes four days a week.

Manton said: “Young women are now performing just as well as young men in STEM subjects, but when they get into the working world don’t have the belief that those top jobs are for them. That’s why at Loreto we use the hashtag #notjustforboys.”

She added: “Only one per cent of every day objects are connected to the Internet so we really are at the start of the revolution and all the changes we see around us to today will increase rapidly in years to come and I want our girls to help lead that change.”