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STEM at the Junior School

STEM at the Junior School

The January 2021 lockdown saw a return to online learning and the STEM provision at the Junior School was developed further to include class teaching on Teams in addition to the whole school tasks which were presented last year.

The challenge was to enable practical Science investigations for the home environment, using basic household utensils and materials. Lists of requirements were provided before lessons and the students responded admirably. With the generous support of their parents, they joined lessons enthusiastically and ready to learn. If the exact equipment was not available, they learned to improvise and try out different things so that they were able to engage fully in the activities. Much use was made of the recycling box! In this way, Year 4 were able to cover their Sound topic, Year 3 studied Forces and Year 5 explored Material Properties as part of their topic on Africa.

In Year 3 we built elastic band powered machines to launch a small foil ball. We then investigated how the pull-back distance affected the distance travelled by the ball and presented our results in a bar chart built of bricks. As the distances were quite large, we rounded our measurements and each brick was to represent 10cm. Aria’s work showed innovation in her use of scale.

In her words: “The Duplo bricks each count as ten and the Lego brick is one. For example, the pink brick with 4 dots on the top, each dot counts as one, so it is a 4. The first column is 24.”

In Year 5 we explored the problem of clean water. As an exercise in separating materials, we had fun making very dirty water, built a water filter using a plastic bottle, stones, gravel and sand and then cleaned our dirty water. Kiana was not satisfied with the cleanliness of her filtered water and adapted her filter to include a face mask! This helped considerably.
One of the Reception class challenges was to build a powered vehicle using a balloon. Isabella explained how she had to adapt her vehicle design (pictured above) to make it work: She built a tall support tower so that her balloon did not touch the floor. She had to balance her vehicle to stop it toppling over. She changed the exhaust from a straw to a piece of copper tubing to make the vehicle go. To improve further, she suggested adding more bricks for chairs, so that she could have more passengers.

The HPL teaching values were very evident as the girls adapted, yet again, to a period of online learning. The girls displayed impressive perseverance and resilience as they tackled the practical tasks set in STEM. They had to work much more independently (albeit with the valued help of their parents). After an initial input in a Teams meeting, they carried out the practical tasks and investigations away from the screen. I was available for support via the Chat function, but this is very different to the support provided in the classroom.

Yet, the pupils were able to improvise and adapt when things didn’t go to plan and unfailingly returned to the end-of-lesson meeting enthusiastically brandishing the things they had made and the results of their investigations.

I am extremely proud of our girls. Their enthusiasm, cheerfulness and willingness to engage with their learning, despite the very difficult circumstances, have been outstanding and I thank them. However, my great joy has been to return to school and work with the girls in the classroom, helping them to improve their tool handling skills, which, of course, was not possible online. Their increased independence has been evident, I think, but it has also been a pleasure to watch them work together again, supporting each other, cooperating and solving problems together.

However, my great joy has been to return to school and work with the girls in the classroom, helping them to improve their tool handling skills, which, of course, was not possible online.

Mrs Shercliff

Return to Magnolian 2021