21st November 2022
SUPER STEM CHALLENGES
The Smallpeice Trust has an in-house programme development team, who develop new activities and make sure our current activities deliver maximum impact. Our STEM Challenge Days are currently going through their annual review, so we asked our Programme Content Manager Nathan to tell us more about his role and some of our popular STEM Challenges:
Mapping to the UK curricula
STEM Days are delivered in school time and a vital part of this is showing how they map across to the relevant curricula. Whether looking at our current STEM Challenges or developing a new one, a key activity is highlighting these links to support teachers and demonstrate the value of these off-timetable activities. In general, our STEM Days support maths, science, and design and technology, and relevant STEM Days also support computer science/IT. It is fantastic when partners can support delivery in person and give students access to real-world role models - one more way we support schools achieve the Gatsby Benchmarks.
Delivering vital life skills
We embed the Skills Builder Universal Framework into our STEM Days, helping students develop important key skills like teamwork, communication, and leadership. As part of this recent review we've looked at how to amplify this, for example, we have rolled out Skills Builder stickers that provide students with strong motivation to develop their key skills, and tangible proof of their achievements - it works just as well with 16-year-olds as with 11-year-olds.
Evaluation and impact
Throughout the year, we monitor the evaluations for all the STEM Days, making sure they are performing as expected from both a student and teacher perspective. This year we've improved our impact reporting, provide standardised, data- and insight-rich reports for our partners.
All the STEM Challenges demonstrate the link between STEM subjects and the wider world. Three of my favourites are:
Renewable Energy (Years 7-11)
A perennial favourite where students build power plants, create energy networks and present to the community, improving their teamwork and leadership skills. This event gets teams to produce gearing systems, towers and turbine blades.
Autonomous Vehicles (Years 8-12)
Using LEGO® Mindstorms and iPads, students design, build and program prototype autonomous vehicles, with the chance to pitch to an expert panel in front of their peers.
Aircraft Challenge (Years 7-11)
On this STEM Day, students create working aircraft fitted with supercapacitors and constructed out of balsa wood. We're constantly impressed with the detailed vehicles they make, and how quickly they grasp the concepts of aerodynamics and forces!
To delve deeper into these three events and our other STEM Days like the Marine Technology or Straw Glider Challenges, visit this page: https://www.smallpeicetrust.org.uk/stem-days.