Linking to Y3’s topic of The Victorians, the day started with learning about Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the bridges he designed. Next, the children studied various bridges from around the world. Then they completed an experiment to learn about strong shapes. The children focused on 4 key bridge designs: arch, beam, truss and suspension. Working in collaborative engineering teams, they combined their ideas to design their bridge. Next, they constructed the bridge using paper straws, string and tape. Finally, the whole class tested how many marbles each bridge could support. The children discussed and evaluated the effectiveness of each bridge and made suggestions for improvements.
Today, Y4 were Amazon Explorers! In the BCS Forest they worked in teams to construct shelters and water filters, needing to complete their tasks before the rain arrived to test the success of the shelters. Later, the children were immersed in the world of virtual reality. They worked industriously to create their own virtual Amazon rainforests, employing a range of coding skills to bring their animals to life. In the afternoon, the children researched the flora and fauna living in the Amazon whilst enjoying listening to the sounds of the rainforest!
Y6’s final BCS STEM challenge was to design, build, test and improve a fan driven model boat. The day started with a reminder of how to construct electrical circuits safely and the forces associated with buoyancy. The aim was to construct the fan boat which travelled the length of the paddling pool in the shortest time. Considerable thought was employed in the designing of boats which would float, be stable and be fast! Concepts including ‘centre of gravity’, ‘streamlined shapes’ and even ‘moment of force’ were discussed before the prototypes were constructed. Limited to two pieces of polystyrene, it was imperative that the designs were reliable before the cutting of resources began.
Eventually, armed with a fleet of fan boats, each class set off for the paddling pools. Some fan boats sank instantly, some were more ‘graceful’ – but still sank, some spun around in circles and some did traverse the full length of the paddling pool. Back in the classroom, it was time to rethink and improve. What about two motors and fans? What about using more tape? What about increasing the height of the sides of the boat? The children continued with the iterative Engineering Design Process of testing and improving until we simply ran out of time! The day finished with a race to determine the Y6 Fan Boat Engineering Team 2023.
The children thoroughly enjoyed the STEM Day. They have been engaged and enthused throughout – and the excitement was palpable! Through the activities they have developed their science, maths, technology and design skills, and a host of key life skills including collaboration, teamwork and problem solving.