STEM was again the talk of the school on Thursday, as we welcomed Engineer, TV Presenter, Broadcaster, Adventurer, Thrill Seeker and STEMNet Ambassador, Rob Bell. Rob started the day with a riveting whole school assembly by explaining that engineering is all around us, in the food we eat, the hobbies we enjoy, the clothes we wear and the way we get to school, to name but a few. Rob has had a diverse career and he has travelled the globe in the interests of engineering and marathon running.  Rob showed us video clips from his TV programmes, where he was a mile underground operating a remote-controlled potash digger, opening the gates on an enormous dam, riding rollercoasters in the interest of engineering and looking at the thousands of parts that go into a Boeing Jumbo Jet. The children were enthralled with his evidence and his experiences.

Following the assembly, Rob ran bridge building workshops throughout the day. The brief for the workshops was to build the strongest, but also most aesthetically pleasing, bridge. It would be fair to say some of the pupils’ idea of aesthetics differs greatly to my own! The groups were given different resources for their bridge building, from newspaper and sellotape, marshmallows, toothpicks and spaghetti, drinking straws and sellotape and lolly sticks and glue. All of the children built bridges in small groups and all the pupils achieved a level of success. All of the bridges were tested to destruction to see how much mass they could take, with some of the weakest looking bridges carrying the most. One Year 3/4 bridge made from spaghetti held over 2 kilograms, whilst a newspaper and sellotape bridge made by a Year 7 group held the total of the masses we had available, so would have held over 18 kilograms and a Year 8 bridge was in excess of 20 kilograms, before the handle of the bucket holding the weight snapped, but the bridge held firm. So again, would have reached way in excess of 20 kilograms too.

It was an absolute pleasure to have Rob visit the school, as his enthusiasm and knowledge rubbed off on the children and inspired them to have a go. They learnt through their own bridge building, listening to Rob and watching their peers’ efforts too.  It was a day that the children will remember for a long time to come and I am sure it will inspire them to think more about the engineering around them and hopefully make them consider a future in Science, Technology or Engineering in the future.