Our Trip To Tower Bridge

Hi everyone, Maisie here! I hope you are all having a lovely summer so far. Lily and I had a brilliant day out in London a few weeks ago and one of the highlights was visiting Tower Bridge.

Tower Bridge is a true feat of engineering and I loved seeing all the details and inner workings. We also learned a bit about the people that were there when the tower was built from engineers to operators to cooks!

It was such a fun day and I would highly recommend visiting Tower Bridge, it would be perfect for families or just by yourself.

Keep reading if you want to find out a bit more about Tower Bridge!

One of our favourite summer activities so far was a fantastic visit to Tower Bridge. Tower Bridge is one of London’s most iconic landmarks and Lily and I had never visited. Lily suggested we go on a tour and I was very much up for it! Have a look at their website to look at planning a visit and buying tickets here!

Tower Bridge is a Bascule bridge meaning it uses counterweights to raise and lower the two bridge sections.

The Tower Bridge tour is split into 5 sections:

  • North Tower
  • The Walkway
  • South Tower
  • The Blue Line
  • Engine Room

I’ll take you through each of these parts of Tower Bridge in the following sections.

North Tower

The first area you enter of Tower Bridge is the North Tower. As you climb the steps to the top there are facts and displays informing visitors of the engineers, technicians and creators of Tower Bridge.

There were some amazing films playing all throughout the North Tower showing you what Tower Bridge was like when it was first built. The hustle and bustle of life in Victorian London is shown and it’s incredible seeing how Tower Bridge slotted into London life.

The Walkway

As you reach the top of the North Tower the many steps climbed are worth it because there are also some amazing views from the walkway area. You can see across the whole of the city of London area, it is a view of London I have never seen before so was great to experience!

The glass floor section in tower bridge was really extraordinary. You can see down to the river and road below. Lily is a little scared of heights so was a bit apprehensive at first!

There is even the chance of doing a yoga class on the glass floor hehe! Find out more here!

The glass floor was installed in 2014 and is 11.5m by 1.8m – which is actually smaller than I thought it would be! I kind of assumed the whole floor of the walkway would be clear but it’s only a small section – which Lily was quite thankful for. There is also a mirror in the ceiling just so you can get that perfect picture for Instagram!

South Tower

After the amazing walkway you then descend the South Tower and discover the stories of the people who worked and maintained Tower Bridge.

The image to the left here is the inner workings of the original bascule chamber. It was incredibly interesting to find out that over 14,000 tons of steel and iron were used in the construction of the bridge.

We also found out that the bridge used to be a chocolate brown colour but was painted it’s iconic blue for the Queens Silver Jubilee in 1977.

The Blue Line

The Blue Line links the South Tower to the Engine Room and it celebrates the ‘ordinary’ people that worked on Tower Bridge from its construction and throughout the years.

Research was conducted to find people that built, operated and worked on the bridge over many years, it was fascinating seeing people’s names, job roles and how long they did that job.

Engine Room

After the bridge we ventured into the Engine Room which is a bit of a hidden treasure! The original Victorian Tower Bridge steam engines and coal burners are situated in the Engine Room. We found out that the bridge used 20 tons of coal a week in its prime and would be raised 20-30 times a day – now it is only raised between 2 and 3 times a day.

Now Tower Bridge has been switched to electric power from the original steam power – in 1976 the switch was made. Now the original steam engines are just for display only!

I loved being in the engine room after seeing the whole bridge and understanding the inner workings of it. We were informed that the original steam engines could raise the bascules in only 60 seconds! We also got to learn a bit about the original engineers who worked in the engine rooms in the late 1800s.

All in all our visit to Tower Bridge was a fantastic day out and you should definitely consider a visit to the bridge! I hope you are having a lovely summer and making the most of all the museums and STEM venues that have reopened across the UK!

Where are you hoping to visit this summer?

Maisie

2SistersInSTEM

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Peak Hike To Plane Crash Site

One of the many perks of going to university in Sheffield is being so incredibly close to the Peak District. I have been to the peaks a few times in my first and second year but not ever for a proper ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ style hike.

So a few weeks ago some friends and I went for a hike in the peaks to see the B-29 Superfortress crash site.

My flatmate and I drove from Sheffield city centre for about 50 minutes and parked in the outskirts of a little village called Hayfield. We walked (or scrambled) up to Mill Hill to meet a couple of friends and then carried on the Pennine Way for a socially distanced hike up to the crash site.

It was a super foggy day so it was hard to see very far in front of us, the Pennine Way was fine to navigate but as soon as we left the path to reach the crash site we were relying heavily on a compass! Once off the nicely paved path we were walking through boggy moorland, I had made the rookie error of forgetting to bring my walking boots with me to uni, so it was trainers for me and they were soaked!

We were walking through the boggy moor for about half an hour but then we came upon the crash site. It was incredible to see, the wreckage covers a much larger area then I first assumed. Over the years parts have been moved and blown about but because of its remote location there is still a huge percentage of the aircraft wreckage still there to be seen.

The aircraft took off from RAF Scampton travelling to American AFB Burtonwood. B-29 Superfortress crashed into the peaks on the 3rd November 1948 whilst descending through cloud. All 13 crew members were killed but the cause of the aircraft crash was never actually discovered.

As I said, on the day of our walk there was an incredible amount of fog and cloud so the conditions would have been relatively similar on the day of the crash, which was a eerie realisation.

I have to say my legs were incredibly sore the day after but it was definitely worth the pain and effort! I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to see this piece of history still in the same place after over 70 years, I would highly recommend going to visit this site if you are ever in the peak district!

Here is a selection of pictures I took whilst at the crash site!

Maisie

2SistersInSTEM

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Why Physics – What Inspired Me To Study Physics?

Hi, Lily here! Today I’m going to be chatting about why I decided to do a Physics degree. What inspired me and ultimately how I made my decision to apply to university to study Physics. Did I listen to my head or my heart? Were there any particular events or moments which helped me make my decision? What or who inspired me?

I first started thinking about what I might want to study at university when I was choosing my A Level options, so that would have been just before I took my GCSE exams. At this point I was pretty set on going to university as I loved learning and wanted to study something in more depth but I wasn’t entirely sure what that was going to be quite yet!

The first time I submitted my A Level choices I definitely went with the subjects I most enjoyed, I definitely went with my heart! I chose Maths, Physics, Chemistry and History. I knew quite early on that although I loved the sciences, I was more passionate about Physics and Chemistry than Biology. However this caused me a bit of a dilemma!

At school, because I was good at the sciences I was never really encouraged to study anything apart from Medicine. In general, schools often steer you towards becoming a doctor if you are good at the sciences and towards becoming a lawyer if you are good at the arts. This meant I felt quite confused as to what I should do! I found there was not a lot of advice or direction given to me beyond that and of course ‘Do what you enjoy!’.

Although I definitely believe you should follow the advice ‘Do what you enjoy!’ you do need to think a bit more deeply than that! I think the important questions you need to ask yourself are ‘What interests you the most?’, ‘What are you the most intrigued by?’ and ‘What do you want to keep learning about the most?’.

I am really glad that I decided to follow my heart and went on to study physics, however there are so many other options available if you think you would be interested in doing something more applied or specific!

I didn’t have a lot of experience when it came to something more applied like engineering (which my sister decided to study a couple years after me!) or computer science. Looking back I think I would have also enjoyed these, but at the time I definitely made the best decision for me! When I finished my physics degree I had lots of career options open to me and I am very thankful for that! It also meant I got to learn a really broad amount of content at university which again I really enjoyed!

However if you feel that your interest lies in something more specific then I would definitely recommend pursuing it! When you complete your studies you will have a really deep knowledge of that particular field which will put you at an advantage when looking for jobs in your particular area. However if you are more undecided on what you think you might want to do in the future, like I was, then a broader choice might be the better way to go!

During the summer before I started my A Levels I had pretty much decided I wanted to study Physics at university! In particular I had read some brilliant Physics books which inspired me and opened my eyes to the incredible things I could learn about. Studying Physics gives you a better understanding of everything in the world around us, from the very small (e.g. quantum physics) to the incredibly vast (e.g. astrophysics)! I realised there was so much more for me to find out and learn about. So many unanswered questions and brilliant theories yet to discover!

Once I was set on studying Physics at university, I decided to reassess my A Level choices. I talked to my teachers and agreed it would make more sense for me to study Further Maths instead of History. I made the decision based on the fact it would benefit me in the long run as I would have a better mathematical knowledge as I started my degree (looking back I think it definitely made the maths content in my degree easier to get to grips with!).

Over the years I think my passion for Physics was sparked by these key events and sources of inspiration:

  • Reading physics related books, in particular this one ‘The Particle At The End Of The Universe’ by Sean Carroll – It is all about particle physics and the hunt to find the Higgs Boson particle, it really inspired me and got me thinking more deeply about physics!
  • Visiting the Science Museum, London – throughout my childhood I was incredibly lucky to visit a few times! I always loved the ‘Exploring Space’ gallery the most, seeing all the rockets and space suits right up close like that!
  • Visiting CERN when I was 15 – we were staying in France just across the border from Geneva, Switzerland. We made a pretty unplanned trip over there and looked around the visitor centre and I was absolutely fascinated by it all! CERN is the The European Organisation for Nuclear Research, the site of the Large Hadron Collider  – the world’s largest and highest energy particle collider (I will go into much more depth in a future post!)
  • Discovering Richard Feynman – a brilliant physicist and science communicator, Richard Feynman’s lectures opened my eyes to what university level physics might be like, you can watch videos of him lecturing on Youtube and all his lectures are free to read online!

Looking back and reflecting on the things that inspired me has been so, so interesting! I don’t come from a particularly science – y family so never felt compelled to study science, or to follow anyone I knew into science! I followed the path I did purely because I was interested and passionate about it! I wanted to learn more and I believed I could do it because of the support I was given from the amazing people around me!

Reflecting on this makes me even more passionate about increasing the visibility of female role models working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)! So young people can see people that look like them or come from the same background as them, studying or working in an area they are passionate about! It makes something you might think is impossible, seem much more possible!

What do you think inspires you?

Lily

2 Sisters in STEM

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Bluedot Festival – Our Experience

Back in the summer of 2017 (argh! it does not seem that long ago) Maisie and I decided we wanted to go to a festival. Maisie had finished her A Levels and I had completed my second year at uni and we decided to treat ourselves!

We wanted a small to medium sized festival which we could drive to, pitch up a tent and have a great time! We chose Bluedot Festival as we really liked the look of the music and science they had on offer. To top it all off, the festival takes place under the enormous telescope at the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, England. We were sold!

We decided to go for the full weekend arriving on the Thursday and leaving on the Monday morning. This was definitely a good move as there was so much going on and being there for the whole event meant we were able to see everything we could have wanted.

On the first day we got our tent set up and then had a good explore of the site and to get our bearings, ready for it all to kick off on the Thursday evening! The site is nice and compact which makes it really easy to walk around. There are lots of different tents and venues, so there’s always something interesting to see or do.

We had such a brilliant time, here are some of our highlights…

The Music

One of the first things that made Bluedot catch our attention was the amazing music line up they had on offer. Our favourite performance of the weekend was definitely Alt-J on the Saturday night! They were brilliant live performers and the whole spectacle was made even more atmospheric and special by the Lovell Telescope looming overhead.

The Science Talks & Workshops

There were so many incredible scientific talks, panels and workshops on offer over the weekend. We saw talks and panels about all sorts of topics, ranging from science and the patriarchy all the way to climate change. From professors to astronauts, the speakers we heard from were brilliant! Bluedot really has something for everyone!

There were also lots of workshops and experiments to take part in. We did a fascinating one all about visiting mars – with the help of a VR (virtual reality) headset.

The Food

This post would not be complete without mentioning the food! It was just a-mazing! There was a plethora of food trucks selling literally all food imaginable. Some of our favourites were the amazing pie and mash, the thai food and of course the churros – which we are so beautifully modelling right here!

Late Night Events

We also loved the late night events on offer. There was all sorts, comedy, amazing light displays and even late night movie screenings – we watched ‘Contact’ one night (they were all kind of sciency related!). There was a part of the site among the trees where pieces of art and sculpture were illuminated late at night and it was so stunning, we visited every night on the way back to the tent!

The Luminarium

Another brilliant piece of art was the luminarium, a sculpture which you can walk through and explore. It’s colours and shapes are mesmerising, it feels like you are in a totally different world. All the amazing colours are created, purely from sunlight coming in through the sculpture!

It really is an incredible event, we would both definitely recommend – bringing together science and art in a fantastic way! We will definitely be heading back again soon.

Unfortunately because of the current situation this year’s festival has been postponed to 22nd-25th July 2021. You can find out more about this the Bluedot festival on their website here, and on their Youtube channel here. Have a watch of the video below to get a proper feel for it!

Me and Maisie are always on the look out for more small-medium sized festival suggestions, what are your favourites? Please leave us a comment down below!

Lily & Maisie

2 Sisters In STEM

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Welcome to 2 Sisters In STEM!

Hi!

We are Lily and Maisie, two sisters who have managed to muddle our way to start careers in STEM. There have been ups and downs, brilliant achievements and difficult challenges but all those experiences have led us to where we are today, and we hope sharing our stories will make it all seem a little less daunting and a little more real!

We are both really passionate about science communication, and in particular about encouraging young women to pursue a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). The main thing both of us felt was lacking as we muddled through school, university and ultimately employment was advice and honest chats from young women going through the same things we were! So we thought we had better get cracking and start something we know we would have found really useful a few years back.

We have lots of posts coming up which we hope you will enjoy on all sorts of topics! From GCSE’s to job hunting, from science events to exam tips, you will not want to miss a post. So please follow our blog down below to be notified as soon as they are up! Thanks so much

Lily & Maisie

2 Sisters In STEM

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