A CELEBRATION of women in STEM careers saw pupils complete challenges at a renowned science facility.

Ada Lovelace Day took place internationally yesterday, to commemorate the work of the world's first computer programmer and the achievements of other women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at the Harwell Campus marked the occasion by inviting teams of schoolchildren to take on space-themed tasks.

Teams of four students from Year 8 and 9 from nearby schools tackled the challenge to 'save the first crewed spaceship to Mars.'

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They had to build and code either a communications system, the life support system, the maglock doors, the solar panels or the entry, descent and landing system.

They also went on a 'space walk', visiting some of RAL's cutting-edge facilities, and heard from young graduates at the laboratory's scientific computing department.

Ada Lovelace was born in 1815 and is widely regarded as being the first ever computer programmer.

She wrote the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine, and designed an early model for a computer a century before the first one was built.