A TRAILBLAZING event that got hundreds of teenagers enthusiastic about science, technology, engineering and maths was given a royal seal of approval.

The Duke of York was a surprise visitor at a lively event called TeenTech, spearheaded by Maggie Philbin, former presenter of BBC science programme Tomorrow’s World.

Held at The Hampshire Court Hotel, in Chineham, the inspiring event – the first in Hampshire – was attended by Year 8 and 9 students from schools in and around Basingstoke, and was hosted by Maggie, who now works for BBC Radio Berkshire and is also the driving force behind TeenTech, which is spreading nationwide.

The innovative event, which aims to inspire and enthuse students about careers in science, technology, engineering and maths, saw the venue divided up into three zones, where students in small groups were focused on activities that challenged their view of scientists and engineers.

Representatives from local companies including Vitacress, Air Products, Sony, Blatchford, AWE and Wood & Young held mini challenges in The Insight Zone along with the BBC and JVC.

Over in The Challenge Zone, students took part in 30-minute activities, including The Shire Show based on TV’s Million Pound Drop. Meanwhile, in The Innovation Zone, teams of youngsters were tasked with designing a mobile phone app.

Maggie said: “It’s been hugely exciting today and it was a real thrill to have The Duke of York here. That was a wonderful endorsement of what we are doing.

“But the real excitement was seeing how the students arrived, thinking one thing about careers in science and technology and by the end of the day their perceptions had changed.

“And it has changed because of the efforts of all of the organisations that came here and created really fabulous activities which engaged the young people.”

After spending two hours at Tuesday’s TeenTech event, The Duke of York told the students how impressed he was with what he had seen.

He said: “I hope a lot of the things you have seen today have opened your eyes and minds as to how technology and science play such an important part in everyday life.

“If we don’t encourage people like you to take up this challenge, in the future we are not going to be the really brilliant and inventive country that we have been in the past. You are our prosperous future.”