STEM - Making Learning Fun!
This new page builds on our overarching aim of enabling young people to enjoy their lessons and develop a life-long love for learning. Science, technology, maths and engineering (STEM) activities are central to our curriculum and through this page we showcase some of the ways in which we develop student skills and knowledge in order to encourage the pursuit of exciting careers in these areas.
Mad Science Saturday 2018
On Saturday 24 February, budding scientists visited Highsted to participate in a day of fantastic activities. Forty-one pupils from 15 different primary schools took part in the science spectacular, watching exciting demonstrations and completing a range of challenges.
The day started with a history of fire, fuels and explosives as told by ‘Mad Scientist’ Mr Stanley. Following this were a series tasks for pupils to get involved in such as: experimenting with solid carbon dioxide using bubbles and dry ice; measuring cockroaches; testing the acidity of household chemicals such as vinegar and toothpaste; making rainbow towers using different densities of sugar solutions; observing tarantulas under a microscope; and creating electric circuits.
All students thoroughly enjoyed the day, happily sharing their thoughts and reactions, “All of the stations were so unique and covered a different aspect of science,” and “The people running the stations were so nice and friendly – thank you!”
Star Wars, Deep Africa & Mario Kart – a Super STEM Event
On Tuesday 23 January, Highsted held a special Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Event (STEM) to develop student skills and encourage the pursuit of future careers in these subjects. The day involved the whole of Year 7 who were participating in a range of activities, across three themed classrooms, run by STEM Ambassadors from Canterbury Christ Church University.
Activity One was themed around ‘Star Wars’ and involved students battling the ‘Dark Side’ by engaging in decoding riddles and breaking codes to work out where the evil Empire’s forces were. Some of the games involved calculating how far ships would have to fly to reach their destinations, others involved giant ‘Top Trumps’ style carts featuring the planets in the solar system – where students had to choose from values such as temperature, distance from the Sun and size to beat each other and claim more cards for themselves. The team with the most points at the end was given the opportunity to ‘destroy the Death Star’ – popping a balloon (all completed to the rousing tune of John Williams’ main theme to Star Wars.)
In the second room, students were taken to ‘Deepest Africa’ to take part in various puzzles and team building activities. Their challenge was to unlock the treasure chest found by African explorers by finding the correct sequence of numbers and letters to break the lock. Puzzles involved: using ropes to lift a small box from ‘the swamp’ without dropping it or getting wet; creating a bridge strong enough to hold the weight of ‘Trevor’ the wooden tortoise – leading to some ingenious ideas and quite a few creative disagreements; calculating how many bricks it would take to build a seven storey-high Ziggurat; and deciphering clues from a cryptic map. Each puzzle rewarded students with a box containing a riddle which they had to solve or face a forfeit – completing the next puzzle blindfolded! The organisers had really set the scene, decked out in full Safari gear and decorating the classroom with crumbling maps, dusty tomes and snakes in jars.
The final room took students to the virtual world of ‘Mario Kart’ where they had to design and create a ‘Kart’ and race their vehicular creations against each other in an assault course. To do this, students had to earn golden coins to buy car parts by solving problems and completing tasks such as: creating lava lamps, solving mathematical problems, and playing a logic game. Each group of four had to be assigned a character from the Mario series and an added twist was that each character was limited in what they were allowed to achieve. Only the ‘Yoshi’ team member could buy car parts; ‘Mario’ had to build the car; ‘Peach’ was the master puzzle solver; and only ‘Luigi’ could dabble in all three. This meant teams had to work strategically to ensure they completed their Kart on time to reach the race track. Race winners received trophies in true Mario Kart style.
Through teamwork and resilience, all students were able to complete the tasks and had great fun in the process. The event was a huge success and an excellent way to get students thinking about and applying their skills and knowledge of science, technology, maths and engineering. Later this year, students from Years 7, 8 and 9 will all have further opportunities to engage in STEM activities including a trip to the Discovery Park in Sandwich, Kent for a ‘Big Bang Event’, experiencing a mobile planetarium and attending a careers fair – all aimed at developing aspirations and inspiring them for the future.
Discovery Park – Year 7 Science Explorers
On Friday 9 March, Year 7 students at Highsted visited the Discovery Park in Sandwich to attend The Big Bang Event and experience a day of hands-on science activities. The day was divided up into a series of talks from representatives, opportunities to visit stalls promoting various aspects of science and the chance to participate in scientific workshops.
Highsted students were able to participate in a number of activities, including riding a bike to see how much energy they could generate – would it be enough to power an entire house? They also got up close to hissing cockroaches; tested out a 3D printer; learnt how to make glow bands; used virtual reality headsets to control a robot; and conducted experiments to identify various chemical samples, to name but a few!
There was also the chance to meet with representatives from the army and the ambulance services, to explore the practical uses for science in society and the world of work – such as bomb disposal and CPR, and students were able to talk with university representatives to discuss scientific careers and higher educational study. Later in the day, they attended a talk with Greg Foot, TV presenter for Deep Ocean Lab, who was able to share his experiences of examining life under the sea, at a depth of more than 200 metres below the surface.
The day was a great success and students all thoroughly enjoyed their trip into the world of science.
Mobile Planetarium – Year 8 see the stars!
On Wednesday 14 March, the University of Kent visited Highsted with their mobile planetarium, aiming to encourage Year 8 students to explore astrophysics and develop an enthusiasm for science. The students are currently studying their ‘Space’ module for physics so the visit enabled them to see the structure and wonder of space on a larger scale.
Representatives from the university set up a huge black dome in the school hall – with only a narrow entrance leading to the skyscape within. Each group of students entered the dome and were treated to a fantastic display, showcasing different areas of the night sky, celestial bodies and beautiful constellations.
The experience was highly informative and the students loved the opportunity to see the stars up close.