STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and encompasses a vast array of subjects that fall into each of those terms. While it is almost impossible to list every discipline, some common STEM areas include: aerospace engineering, astrophysics, astronomy, biochemistry, biomechanics, chemical engineering, chemistry, civil engineering, computer science, mathematical biology, nanotechnology, neurobiology, nuclear physics, physics, and robotics, among many, many others. As evidenced by the multitude of disciplines, it's clear that STEM fields affect virtually every component of our everyday lives.
Success in the national finals of the LEGO MindStorms challenge two years on the bounce has helped our STEM club to go from strength to strength. We have had many accolades, including the best designed robot in the UK, highly commended winners nationally and multiple awards for individual members of the team, including Rebekah Jeffrey in Year 8 and James Shuker in Year 11.
Tomorrow's Engineers Energy Quest was a fun, interactive STEM workshop delivered by STEM Education Officers. The workshop was attended by sixty pupils in Year 8 and was a very interactive and hands on experience. The pupils made solar powered cars using resources supplied by Tomorrows Engineers over a three hour period of time. In this time, many obstacles were faced, including the not-so-sunny Accrington weather! However, the Year 8's showed their resilient attitude and managed to test their cars in a fun filled race in the last ten minutes of the activity.
Eurospace and Beyond
Eurospace was an amazing European educational centre dedicated to space travel and learning about our galaxies and planets. This fascinating complex became our home for three days and in this time, we did not stop! We took part in masterclasses and numerous exhibitions, where we experienced an array of interactive and visual displays with a huge emphasis on making science fun! As one of the top destinations in Europe for science study, this complete programme comprised of on-site dorm rooming, all meals and up to seven hours of activities per day,so we always had something to do. All activities were led by teachers from the Belgian Ministry of Education, who were so welcoming and knowledgeable. Our thirty-six pupils and five teachers had so much fun taking part in activity such as a walk on Mars simulation, experiencing micro gravity and even taking part in a space ship launch.
Since its introduction in 1998, the LEGO Mindstorms build and program robotics tool set has become the best-selling product in the LEGO Group's history. Garnering worldwide acclaim, the Robotics Invention System fueled the imaginations and satisfied the inner tinkerer of generations of LEGO and robotics enthusiasts alike, leading to the development of a global community of users and students of all ages over the last 15 years who create and command robots the LEGO way.
St Christopher's pupils have been really enjoying experimenting with LEGO Mindstorms products and have been inspired to create many amazing machines. A great example of the potential of this product and be seen below:
Ten Year 9 pupils attended the TeenTech event in Manchester on Wednesday 27th April. The pupils all have an interest in future careers in Engineering and Science and the event provided an opportunity for them to learn more about careers in these fields. The starter exercises were to draw a scientist, leading to an interesting debate on gender stereotypes, and also provide an idea for a useful product in 2050. During the Innovation session the pupils had half an hour as a team to develop, market and pitch an idea for a product that could make people safer or entertain.
The St. Christopher's team did a great job of developing a smart pen known as "The Write Way" and were rewarded with best pitch of the day! In the Challenge zone the group were supported by some professional software developers to make computer games using Scratch and then met a team of Electrical Engineers from General Electric. The engineers introduced the pupils to the requirement to load balance the electricity network across the UK with the pupils having a go at controlling supply and demand using an interactive simulator. After lunch, in the Insight zone, there were several shorter activities such as fingerprint analysis, railway bridge building, making electric motors and understanding the environmental impacts of the construction industry.
The pupils didn't leave empty handed with five pupils each winning £10 Amazon vouchers for their railway bridge building and five pupils winning JVC headphones.
Stem Club had a great day at Rolls-Royce on Tuesday 17th May, when they looked at the production of a hugely important part of the jet engine; the making of the fan blades. All students had an enjoyable day and they were a pleasure as always! We hope that the students got as much out of it as the staff did and would hope they have been inspired further to follow a STEM path in their options in Year 9 and further!