STEM Club is an opportunity for pupils to engage in fun yet challenging STEM orientated activities outside of the constraints of the classroom. The club meets once a week on a Tuesday from 3.20pm - 4.45pm and is currently aimed at year 7.
Pupils take part in around 3 projects over the course of the year, each with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. The projects help develop transferable skills such as investigation, analysis, research, problem solving, creativity, innovation, reflection, self management and team work. In at least one of the projects pupils produce a working product which they get to take away as a symbol of their learning journey.
KS3 STEM club
CAD/CAM key ring project
In the first week students were taught about new manufacturing technologies and how to design for laser cutting using the software 2D Design. Club members designed their own STEM Club key rings which were laser cut out of sheet acrylic for the following session.
Egg car challenge
Using everyday materials such as wooden dowel, sponge, bubble wrap and card, students were divided into teams with each given the challenge of designing and building a moving vehicle which could successfully carry two eggs down a ramp and protect them from impact with a wall. This activity required students to develop team working skills as well as learning how different materials absorb forces.
In this session students investigated how strength is built into structures by creating model bridges using STIXX (tightly rolled newspaper tubes created with a STIXX machine). Working in teams, students had to design and manufacture a bridge to span a gap of 1 metre which was then tested for strength by hanging weights from it. Following testing, the club evaluated the advantages and limitations of each design and suggested why the winning bridge had proved the strongest.
Solar Orbiter design challenge
Following the clubs visit to Leicester Space Centre, in the following after school session students learnt about the Solar Orbiter which is a sun observing satellite which will launch in 2017. Students were asked to think about the challenges designer face in creating a satellite which will be able to withstand intense heat. Following this, in teams of two, students were asked to design a model of the satellite using everyday materials which would prevent a piece of chocolate inside from melting when a heat source (hair dryer) was applied. The club evaluated each design and were able to identify which materials have insulating and conducting properties.
‘Guess my job’ session
Using an activity model provided by Julia Kingston (STEM Coordinator for Birmingham and Solihull) two STEM Ambassadors were invited into STEM Club during one session in November to give students an insight as to how STEM skills are central to their careers. The club was split into two groups with each group spending 30 minutes with each ambassador. During this time, students asked the ambassadors a series of probing questions in order to try to guess their occupations. Following this, both ambassadors led a short activity linked to their job. Students were able to associate the skills they have been developing during club sessions with those which are used on a daily basis by workers in the STEM industries.
Christmas Product Design session/collaboration with ST. Chad’s Primary
Our club members were given the opportunity to develop leadership skills when a group of 10 Year 6 students from St. Chad's Primary visited joined our STEM Club for a one off session. Using their CAD skills, STEM club members supported the Primary students in a pop up Christmas card design task using 2D Design. The session was one of a number of initiatives we are trialling this academic year in order to promote STEM in the wider school community and to support Primary schools in the setting up ad delivery of their own STEM Clubs. KS2 pupils were able interact with sophisticated CAD CAM equipment which they do not have access to on their own school site and left feeling enthusiastic about studying Design and Technology at KS3.
Previous STEM club members from year 8 and 9 have taken up leadership opportunities by supporting the delivery of the club. These include David Bates, George Farrell and Achlaam Moledina.