What is STEM? STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. These are all areas of learning that children need to be comfortable with to excel in the future. STEM education is far more than just ‘lumping’ those subject titles together. It’s a philosophy of education that embraces the application of learning to address real world issues. STEM makes: creators, thinkers, problem solvers and innovators.
In Y3, the children started with a challenge: build a floating device using minimal resources. How might they make a sturdy ‘boat’ that floats and supports weight? How will they ensure it is waterproof? The challenge culminated in a ‘float-off’! The winning team from 3VF managed to build a boat which held an incredible 200 marbles: a phenomenal achievement. In the afternoon the children tackled a real life issue. Land in Bangladesh is frequently flooded and one method of ensuring crops are not damaged is to use ‘floating gardens’. Building upon the morning’s learning, each class made some floating gardens, incorporating a bamboo frame constructed by Mrs Walker.
In Y4, the theme was ‘air’ and the activities included hoop gliders, streamlined planes, renewable energy and wind turbines! The day started with an introduction to renewable energy, specifically wind power. What do we use electricity for? What would life be like without any electricity? What is ‘clean energy’? The children studied wind turbines and determined the optimum design. How many blades should the turbine have? What shape should the blades be? We tested our designs using hairdryers!
Next followed the hugely enjoyable ‘hoop gliders’ challenge. Once the children were familiar with how to make a hoop glider, they investigated what happened when variables were changed with the aim of building the best hoop glider: the one which would glide for the longest time. Later, they learnt about streamlined shapes and were challenged to construct the paper plane which flew the greatest horizontal distance. We concluded the day with the stomp rockets.
In Y5, the challenge was ‘Beat the Flood!’ What is climate change? What causes climate change? Who is affected by climate change? If we are prepared for a flood, we can lessen the impact. The children investigated various properties of materials, such as absorbance, and then designed their flood-resistant building with consideration of both pricing and sustainability. In the afternoon, they got creative and built them! The final step was to test the efficacy of the designs.
Our STEM sessions buzzed with enthusiasm, curiosity, perseverance, creativity, critical thinking and teamwork. A key feature throughout has been the need to employ a ‘Growth Mindset’ and learning from what didn’t work as much as what did. Following a hugely enjoyable and exciting experience, the children have developed fundamental life skills and an appreciation and understanding of the critical importance of Science, Technology and Mathematics. We are already looking forward to our next STEM Enrichment!