Bringing the classroom to life
Way back in 2008 I had a number of students who were not completely satisfied with the breadth of learning available to them within the limitations of the classroom. With the enthusiasm that they were showing to learn more and to gain more experiences, I started to research what activities we could employ beyond the classroom. This began at lunchtime playing with old radio-controlled cars and bits of Lego robotics kits but soon developed into a full-time club, looking for new and exciting activities to take part in. Competition has always been a strong motivating factor and so we naturally gravitated towards the experiences that had the added edge of taking on other schools!
We've been involved with VEX Robotics Competition, IET Faraday Challenge Day, EEP Robotics Challenge and also attended The Big Bang UK Fair. During the STEM engagement activities, the majority of students who join us in our experiences usually begin their journey as fairly quiet and reserved students. Often those that don’t put themselves forward or lack the confidence to volunteer in the classroom will find themselves mixed in with our more experienced students who have already discovered the joy of participating in STEM.
There are no boundaries or limitations to who can sign up and so each student will have a unique opportunity to see how others have gained confidence and to begin their own journey. Whether they join in year 7 or year 12, every student finds a place where they can express their opinions and work on projects with like-minded individuals. The journey is about building their inner confidence and allowing them to forge their own STEM pathway. We simply facilitate the opportunity and let them use it how they wish.
Feedback comments from students who have been part of the team have included; “Becoming a Role Model is a key part of what we are aiming for and has provided material for college and university applications”. They agree that the outreach experience has encouraged them to be dependable, honest, loyal, hardworking, friendly, creative, intelligent, caring, sincere, modest, inspiring, trustworthy, show perseverance, to take responsibility, included, show respect, be a peer mentor, bring out the best in everyone and become an effective communicator. All these attributes have contributed to our success, encourages new members to the school and helps us to build our community with our local STEM day.
STEM is such a wide and vast collection of interests and activities that there is always going to be something for everyone! From battling robots across the Atlantic to investigating 3D printers in your own classroom. In my experience, there is an activity to suit every child from every background that allows them the opportunity to grow and to dream.
Stuart Higham, The John Warner School