School Deliveries

STEM Quest Club: Tumblewings

Today at STEM quest club we were looking at flying things in general, and Big Mouth Tumblewings in particular.  These are fascinating objects which can float on an updraft of air.  They are easy to make, but can be quite challenging to fly.

The session was led by Gracie and Amy, who did a good job of explaining the activity.  The Cragside children and Year 9 STEM Quest leaders worked very hard, and everybody was able to fly their tumblewing by the end of the club.  It was also lovely to see the World Book Day costumes as well.

You can try out tumblewings at home – the instructions are on our tumblewings page.

One of the things that engineers and scientists learn quite quickly is that sometimes getting things to work isn’t always easy, and that you have to stick at things and keep going.  Of course, that’s true in many careers, not just science related ones.  Today, the children were practicing that skill very well and kept going cheerfully until they could fly!

STEM Quest club: we have lift-off!

On Thursday afternoon a group of slightly nervous year 9 students made their way from the CLV to Cragside CofE Primary school nearby.  These were the STEM Quest club leaders.  Their mission was to run a STEM Quest club for year 4 and 5 pupils in the primary school.

We’d spent some time with the year 9’s before half-term trying out different activities based around science, technology, engineering and maths – the STEM of the title.  The year 9’s then thought about how each activity might work with primary school children, what they might need to change, and how they could best explain the activity to the younger children.  For four of the activities, two students have taken responsibility for leading the session – including thinking about what instructions they need to give and what safety issues them might need to think about.

For the first session Kira and Charlotte were in charge.  The aim of the session was to create a 30cm high table which would hold a water bottle.  However, there was only newspaper and roll of sellotape to work with.  The girls explained the activity to the very excited year 4s, and then the planning and building began.

It was great!  The secondary students made the primary pupils feel at ease.  They were supportive of the plans that the primary pupils came up with, without trying to impose their own ideas.  It was a hive of activity, and the adults in the room could stand back and watch the progress of the work with pride.

People who work in science and engineering don’t often need to use newspaper to build tables.  However, although the activity isn’t really representative of what scientists and engineers do, the skills that the children used are. They were creative, they planned their structure, they tested, they reassessed their design, worked in a team and had fun.

Resource

STEM Quest club

One of the aims of the Think Physics project is to show young people that studying science, especially physics, leads to careers that they would want to do.  At Think Physics we’re piloting a programme we’re calling STEM Quest club, which we hope will support this aim.

The research from the ASPIRES project identified that many young people between the ages of 10 and 14 like science, but don’t see it as something that they would want to do as a career.

As an ex-teacher, my experience of secondary school students is that they generally enjoy working with younger children.  When my son was looking for work experience in year 10, he thought that it might be nice to go into a primary school to work – only to find that all the available places had been snapped up weeks before, mostly by girls!

We’re going to put these two ideas together in STEM Quest club.

Working with a partner secondary school, a group of year 9 students will be trained and supported to run an after-school club in a local primary school. We think this will have a number of benefits:

  • will give the year 9 students experience of successfully explaining science and some leadership experience,
  • the opportunity to work towards a CREST silver award,
  • strengthening links between the secondary and primary school,
  • supporting the experience of science in the primary school
  • appeal to girls (whereas a STEM club might not).

During the training, students will try out the different activities they’ll use in the primary school, discuss presentation techniques and think about how best to explain the activities to younger children.

As well as this, we’ll also be doing some ‘consciousness raising’ activities to look at issues of gender equality in STEM subjects and possible career options.

Typical activities we’ll do will be:

  • use the Science Museum Mystery boxes to think about how we can approach problem solving, and also to talk about science not knowing all the answers.
  • To look at how different disciplines are seen in the media by looking at image searches for ‘physicist’, ‘chemist’, ‘biologist’, ‘engineer’ and ‘mathematician’ **.
  • Look at images of real people who work in STEM, and think about what skills and attributes they might need.
  • Identify how STEM careers make a difference to our lives.
  • try and give clear instructions on how to build origami structures, and how to deal with the frustration of not understanding the instructions.

Through the club, we hope that the leaders will gain experience of doing science which will encourage them to continue to study science, hopefully to A-level and beyond.

You can see what we’ve been up to at our first STEM Quest Club here.

 

**It’s worth having a go at this – the results are quite disappointing. When we tried it out, the year 9s came to the conclusion that, if search engines are to be believed, then you have to like wearing ties or scuba gear (for biologists!) to work in science.

Search engine result for images of 'scientist'

Search engine result for images of ‘scientist’