The Science and Maths department of the school, led by Mr Dickson and Mr Bhalsod, have collaborated to plan and deliver a STEM curriculum with the primary objective of engaging pupils from across the school in applied science, technology, engineering and maths. Pupils have learnt practical skills, developed their social communication and team work skills, and have explored possible and fruitful career pathways within STEM industries.
Lat year the school received the ‘Engineering Kit’ funded by the James Dyson foundation. Our year 8 and 9 pupils learnt about Dyson’s enterprise and how it has become so successful with cutting edge design and manufacture. The pupils were guided on how to disassemble a Dyson vacuum cleaner and multiple attachments to see how each part was designed to perform. The pupils were then challenged to reassemble the vacuum cleaner back to a working standard. This did not go without some difficulties! Some screws were lost during the rebuild and some pupils felt challenged, however I’m pleased to report that all of the kit was returned to Mr Dyson fully assembled and working. A funny anecdote to add was receiving a phone call from a disgruntled parent asking why her daughter had attempted to take apart their family’s ‘Henry the hoover’!
Our school took part in the First Tech Challenge UK. The aim of the project was to design and build a robot to fit a purpose. The said purpose of the robot was to stack bricks in an arena during a timed challenge against other teams.
We were granted a bursary from one of the project’s sponsors and received the kit along with the brief of the project. At first some of our pupils were intimidated and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of parts, complexity of the technology and the challenging format of the competition; therefore, we enlisted an industry sponsor Wabtec- Faiveley – a local engineering company specialising in railway fabrication. Wabtec-Faiveley have had an excellent relationship with our school.
In addition, the team aforementioned have coordinated a STEM focused curriculum with ICT teacher Mr Meenan for a year 8 class who, due to a combination of their complex needs, struggle to access and engage in academic curriculum. We invested in a class set of LEGO Mindstorm kits. The pupils used their science lessons to construct, their English lessons to document their progress, their art lessons for design, and their ICT lessons to code how the LEGO moves and responds to commands. The pupils engaged really well with this and took pride and ownership in their individual projects. Once finished, they used their maths lessons to practically calculate the speed and acceleration of the finished LEGO.
Due to the success of the above projects, pupils have expressed more interest in the involvement in STEM. Pupils have been bringing into school their Meccano sets, which they have received as Christmas gifts, to complete with the support from their teachers Mr Bhalsod and Mr Dickson.
More recently, the school have applied for funding through the Steve Morgan Foundation to supply more miniature and individualised STEM projects to support our pupils’ learning during COVID19.
Going forward, The Observatory School’s STEM curriculum looks bright. We now plan to introduce further, more ambitious projects.
As pupils return to school from recent COVID closures, we have enriched their curriculum with some individualised projects to engage them back into learning. These include a Haynes V8 engine assembly, building rockets and flying power kites.
We now plan to have a timetabled lesson for STEM to allow more time for the completion of projects. We endeavour to; take our winning form into First Tech Challenge UK 2021, to visit more local engineering companies, spectate a race day at Oulton Park, and are anticipating a visit from a IoM TT racer and his bike.