STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) forms an integral part of the ALP curriculum. We strive to ensure that all of our pupils have the skills they need to enable them to gain employment in the STEM sector in the North East. We aim to achieve this by removing gender stereotypes and immersing our pupils in STEM through activities that enhance and enrich the curriculum, so that ALP pupils develop a passion for STEM and demonstrate that they have ‘skills for life’. Employability skills (Skills for Life) have been identified as being a priority for employers. We develop our pupils’ resilience, communication, team-working, self-motivation and problem solving skills, while also ensuring that they learn to keep themselves and others safe.
ALP pupils engage in STEM and ‘skills for life’ on a daily basis through activities that are intertwined into the curriculum and through employer engagement with organisations such as ARUP, AkzoNobel, Stratstone BMW Tyneside, the Marine Society and Primary Engineer. In 2019 the ALP became a regional hub for Primary Engineer teacher training when our ‘Institution of Primary Engineer suite’ (funded by the Platten Foundation) was officially opened by Member of Parliament for Wansbeck, Ian Lavery. ALP pupils regularly achieve success in regional and national STEM competitions run by organisations like Primary Engineer and the Engineer Leaders award.
As part of their work towards the Engineer Leaders Award, some of our KS2 children have taken part in a live presentation and Skype interview with Materials Engineer and BBC presenter Mark Miodowni. The children watched a live presentation from the expert, on the role that engineering has in solving the problem of waste plastic. They also discovered why plastic was originally invented, that many plastics are very harmful to the environment and also how some plastics are essential to our everyday lives. Our children thoroughly enjoyed the experience and impressed the engineer with some excellent interview questions.
All of our KS2 children have entered the national Engineer Leaders Award. The prestigious engineering and entrepreneurial competition which is funded by the Reece foundation, asks children to answer the question ‘if you were an engineer, what would you do?’. Children used all of their ‘Skills for Life’ to create unique inventions that will help to solve problems in the real world. Children also wrote formal letters to the engineer judges to accompany their invention design drawings. Good luck to all our children in the competition!
A number of our KS2 children have taken part in Royal Navy themed, marine engineering workshops. Children worked with Sally the marine engineer from the Marine Society, to carry out practical investigations into the principles of marine engineering. Children then used all of their engineering know how and ‘Skills for Life’, to work in teams to build ships capable of transporting humanitarian aid to disaster hit countries.
Some of our Key Stage 2 children have taken part in a live Skype interview with current NASA astronaut Sunita Williams. Sunita is a veteran of two space missions. The children were given a once in a lifetime opportunity to watch a live presentation from Sunita and then take part in an interview session. A fantastic experience for them all!
Children in Year 6 have been designing and building self-driving, obstacle-avoiding vehicles.
The children have also demonstrated these vehicles to a range of employers during our ‘World of Work’ day. The demonstration was accompanied by a video advert and a presentation in the style of the Dragons’ Den. All of the children involved managed to get investment in their companies. Well done year 6!
Last week, pupils from Central and Bothal Primary attended the Primary Engineer North East Regional Finals together. The KS2 children have been using all their engineering skills to build wooden, mechanised vehicles with electric motors to compete in ramp, speed and straight line tests.
Year 2 pupils at Bothal and Central Primary were visited by staff from Stratstone BMW Tyneside, who came into school to judge their engineering projects. Pupils had been challenged to design and build shoe box BMW cars capable of safely transporting a toy down a ramp. Pupils were awarded points based on three main categories. Firstly the judges looked at the build quality of the BMWs the children had built and their chosen safety feature. Next the cars took part in ramp tests which included marks for the distance the cars traveled and a straight line test. Marks were awarded for their project work, which included their initial designs, improvements they made after testing their cars, research into the types of engineering, research into BMW and work on forces. Finally pupils were awarded marks for showing 'skills for life' such as resilience, problem solving, team-working and how well they communicated their ideas to the judges. BMW Stratstone brought four BMW's with them, including the new 'i8 Roadster' and the new 'M5', which the very excited children thoroughly enjoyed exploring. BMW judges were very impressed by the quality of the work and the enthusiasm of our children!
Year 5 pupils have been working with a team of engineers from ARUP. ARUP are a multinational engineering firm that have been a part of a number of major engineering feats across the world, such as the Sydney Opera House, the 'Bird's Nest' Olympic stadium in Beijing, Zhuhai-Macau Bridge in Hong Kong (the world’s longest sea crossing), the Millennium Bridge, the London Eye and even our own Angel of the North. The engineers came into Central to launch the two year 'Ashington Redesign Urban Planning' project with year 5 pupils who took part in the launch assembly and a civil engineering workshop.
A number of our Year 5 pupils have been using Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CADCAM). Pupils have investigated the real world application and potential that CADCAM has on our lives. They have been experimenting with CAD software to design and create buildings. Pupils have also been designing customised keyrings and then printing them on our 3-D printers.
As part of the 'Engineer Leaders Award', some of our Year 3 and Year 4 classes have taken part in a live online interview. Pupils watched a live presentation from Dr Ghida Ibrahim and then had the chance to ask her about her job as a Quantitative Engineer and Data Scientist for facebook. Our pupils asked her some really interesting questions about her job at facebook and about what inspired her to become an engineer.
Some of our Year 6 pupils have taken part in the Northumberland Space Programme. Our pupils participated in seven days of science, history and music workshops at Woodhorn Museum, The Sill at Northumberland National Park and at Newcastle University. Pupils explored the history of Northumberland, from the 'Big Bang' to the present day. This also included learning about space, galaxies and planets, as well as the history of Ashington and the geology of Northumberland. The project trip to The Sill at Northumberland National Park, gave pupils a hands on experience of the great outdoors, utilising the building’s purpose built ‘living’ roof, and taking a closer look into the park’s special 'Protected Dark Sky' status.
At Newcastle University, the group visited the 'School of Maths and Statistics' and took part in activities, investigations and experiments with astrophysicists based in the department.
The workshops and trips culminated in a performance piece at the end of the project. The pupils developed and created the space themed performance, aided by acclaimed composer Andy Ingamells. The Northumberland Space Programme offered our children an excellent insight into a number of potential STEM careers and routes into STEM based University courses. This very special project was funded by the 'Hand Of' charity.