STEM Taster Morning showcases new facilities and innovative teaching
On Saturday 12 March, St Mary’s Junior School and Senior School put on a dazzling array of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) activities for prospective and joining students during a STEM Taster Morning. STEM has been a particular focus of the school’s development this year, not least due to the opening of the Yingting Qian STEM Lab at the Junior School. Taking place during British Science Week, our STEM Taster Morning showcased our stunning new facilities, our world-class teaching, and gave guests a chance to meet future friends at St Mary’s.
In the Senior School, guests cycled between a range of fun, experimental workshops in our state-of-the-art facilities, which took inspiration from British Science Week’s theme of ‘growth’. Mrs Beer led chemistry experiments in the Food Room, looking at 'growing a mixture' using biological and chemical raising agents in bread and cakes. Their batches of cakes explored what happens when you forget an ingredient and what each ingredient does in a recipe. Of course, this experiment would not be complete without a taste test – sugar, they found, was particularly essential.
Mr Smalley led an activity on ‘growing patterns’ in the computing session. The students looked at what an algorithm is and how they can be used to draw pictures in the Scratch programming environment. By using the power of loops, every student made a colourful, geometric spiral, customising its look and exploring what the different parts of the code did through experimentation.
In our science lab, Dr Alves-Martins hosted sessions on chemical investigation. Some sessions focused on 'growing' soap bubbles, linked with recycling and the environment. They investigated the best soap solution for making the largest and most durable bubbles, with each student taking away their own bubble mix and a hand-made wand. The last group conducted several tests to identify unknown samples of materials. In between sessions, the girls and parents enjoyed a spread of cakes and snacks in the Hall.
The Junior School’s events took a futuristic theme, to coincide with the grand opening of the new STEM lab. Students explored ‘space’ in a range of activities, from play in the woodland explorer’s area in our beautiful grounds, to space-themed computer science activities, led by Mr Severy and Year 6 volunteers. In the STEM lab, Mrs Shercliff led practicals demonstrating the physics behind space flight. Each student was also gifted a souvenir of astronauts’ food.
Our staff were delighted with this opportunity to display our facilities and to highlight our innovative teaching. Indeed, both are central to our STEM success at St Mary’s. Head of Juniors and Physics specialist Mrs Christian explained:
‘Our labs are bright, spacious, modern and well-equipped, which is vital for practicals. We’re keen that the girls do not just learn facts but develop an understanding of scientific processes and learn to think like scientists. Practical skills such as planning, observing, analysing and evaluating lie at the heart of scientific thinking.’
We are grateful to all the staff who helped make this event possible, and to our student volunteers who made our guests feel so at home.
We would like to encourage any prospective parents to contact the admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any further questions.