It has been a busy term in STEM lessons for Years 5 and 6.  The children have been designing, building and evaluating various projects which bring together the STEM subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, whilst encouraging them to develop their problem-solving and teamwork skills. Here is a taste of what the children have been up to in STEM lessons:

In Year 5, the children designed and created balloon cars using a variety of building materials. It was interesting to see how some of the children gravitated immediately towards using K-nex or Lego bases for their cars and wheels, whilst others considered the need for a more light-weight design, fashioning their own wheels and bases from card and other recycled materials. In all cases, the moment arrived when we attached the balloons full of air, chanted a hearty countdown and let go to watch the balloons race, but none of them moved! After the children (and Miss Prior!) finished laughing, we ‘went back to the drawing board’ and reflected on how to improve the designs. There were many sensible suggestions along the lines of making the cars more streamlined and less heavy, and even thinking creatively to add more balloons. This was a valuable lesson for Year 5, where they developed their resilience to keep trying, which is such an important skill for these budding engineers!

As the darker nights have drawn in, the children completed an investigation outside in the (near!) darkness using reflective clothing and torches. They designed a test to see how reflective the clothing is at different distances, simulating car head lights, and worked out that moving parts of the body helped to reflect the light even more. Back in the STEM room, the children set to work designing their reflective items and then created a reflective wrist band from scratch, using card, recycled fabric, and reflective tape.

In Year 6, the children have experienced a variety of hands-on activities in STEM lessons, and since we have been so fortunate with the weather this term (mostly!) we have managed to get outside into nature as much as possible. This has included working with Rachel Borrows, our school horticulturist, to harvest green beans and plant bulbs. Mrs Borrows also very kindly joined us for our STEM lesson during the COP26 theme week, where 6T used leaf identity wheels to survey the variety of tree species at Vinehall. We then sat as a group on the big fallen oak tree to discuss the importance of having a wide variety of tree species to support biodiversity and the children made some excellent contributions about how deforestation affects climate change.

On the theme of the great outdoors, the Year 6 children experienced an autumn nature walk and created journey sticks along their walk. This consisted of finding a good stick and tying interesting objects to it along the nature walk, with each item marking a point along the route. At the end of the nature walk, the children could recall the exact route and why they chose each item, just by using their stick as a memory prompt.

Year 6 have also designed, created, and tested small rafts and had great fun testing to see if they would sink as weights were added to them.

To finish off the term in STEM, the Year 6 children created light up LED Christmas cards. First they decided on a Christmas design which could incorporate an LED. Next, they had to plan an electric circuit using conductive copper tape and work out for themselves which way round to place the battery in the circuit, to make the LED light up. For an extra challenge, some children managed to include a switch into their circuit.

Becky Prior

Head of Science