Students from two of TyneMet’s partnership schools, John Spence Community High School and Marden High School, enjoyed a fascinating insight into the world of chocolate production and the importance of science at one of the world’s biggest confectionary manufacturers, Nestlé in Fawdon.

Tyne Metropolitan College was the first college in the North East to be awarded STEM Assured® recognition for excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. This accolade also recognises TyneMet’s dedicated Sixth Form College, Queen Alexandra, which has a strong reputation for outstanding results in Science and Maths subjects as well as a 99.8% A Level pass rate (A Level results, August 2015). The Sixth Form College is passionate about promoting STEM subject areas and the exciting, rewarding careers attainable through STEM studies.

The College works closely with its partnership schools to provide a strategic and varied insight into STEM specific careers - with an industry focus. By working with employers such as Nestlé, the College hopes to bring science to life by introducing young people to a whole host of science-related careers, allowing them to experience the subject in a real-life working environment helping pupils transfer the theory of a subject into a practical context.

The food giant, Nestlé, produces over 2,000 brands worldwide including some of the UK’s best loved names – KitKat, Aero and Fruit Pastilles. The factory in nearby Fawdon is home to the famous Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles and Gums along with iconic brands such as Rolo, Munchies, Toffee Crisp and Blue Riband.

Nicola Lowes, Applications Group Manager at Nestlé, said: “It is vital we encourage young people to consider careers in a science-related capacity. We want to highlight that science can be applied in many ways, for example, chemistry underpins the work we do here at Nestlé. From understanding the science behind the complex properties of chocolate we can work with the chocolate to create the delicious treats you see on the shelves in the shops, it all starts here in our research kitchens.”

Nicola, who attended Marden High School and went on to study Maths, Chemistry and Physics at Tynemouth College (now part of Tyne Metropolitan College) before completing a Chemistry degree at Newcastle University, added: “I want to share my experiences and the career choices that I have been able to pursue through science. Here at Nestlé, we are committed to developing the community and it’s certainly a passion of mine. It’s been lovely to share the work I do with my old school and John Spence pupils - we want pupils to have fun through learning and you can certainly do that with chocolate!’

Nestlé delivered an exciting presentation about how the company harvests ingredients to make chocolate and the science behind chocolate making before the pupils worked with some of most famous Nestlé products, including Caramac to learn how to temper the chocolate by varying its temperature to ensure the finished product delivers a glossy texture, degree of snap and the ideal malting charateristics consumers are familiar with.

John Spence Community High School pupil, Bethany Richardson, said: “I’ve been thinking about a career in chemistry, but wasn’t sure until now – today has been really interesting and I’ve loved every minute - from finding out about the science behind production to making the chocolate - the trip to has really opened my eyes. Science can really take you anywhere and a science career in chocolate making sounds amazing!”

TyneMet’s Science Expressways project includes beneficial opportunities for young people to meet employers within the region as well as a number of inventive and engaging extra curricular activities to develop the understanding of science in the workplace and the many careers available. This helps to steer young people into science-related A Levels after school and progression into Higher Education.

Chemistry teacher at John Spence Community High School said: “This is a great opportunity for our pupils to see first hand career opportunities available through chemistry and the progression routes after GCSEs such as A Levels at Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College.”

Hannah Whall, who progressed from Nestlé’s graduate engineering programme to join the team as a Product Specialist in Innovation and Renovation, said: “Applying subject areas to careers in science can really help to develop young peoples interest in science and schemes such as TyneMet’s Science Expressways are great. The graduate programme at Nestlé allowed me to explore different elements of product engineering – from manufacturing processes to food technologies – I’ve really uncovered science in a workplace environment. It’s been great to meet the pupils today and tell them about my own personal career journey, along with finding out about the fascinating careers that the pupils hope to pursue – from Aerodynamics to Chemical Engineering, science is truly everywhere and is the foundation of lots of exciting and varied careers.”

Marden High School pupil, Charlotte Hamilton, said: “I really enjoy studying chemistry, in fact I love science! The trip to Nestlé was really interesting and I learnt a lot about science in the workplace. The chocolate making was really fun and has re-affirmed my decision to study Chemistry at A Level, hopefully at Queen Alexandra!”

Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College boasts exceptional results at A Level including achieving the highest scoring biology results of any AQA Centre in the country (A Level results, August 2015) and illustrates the the quality of teaching and the support available to students which helps to prepare them for the next steps into Higher Education and a variety of career pathways.

For more information about Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College and the wide range of science-related subjects, visit: www.queenalex.ac.uk/alevels

If you’re interested in careers at Nestlé visit:  http://www.nestlecareers.co.uk