Hundreds of Edge Hill University’s student teachers have gained vital knowledge and inspired some of tomorrow’s engineers and scientists by hosting STEM days for schools across all age groups.
The student teachers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects hosted the special days for participant pupils from nursery (Key Stage 1) through to sixth form (Key Stage 5- Post-16).
The groups of pupils were introduced to STEM subjects contextualised around a current theme, either within the new National Curriculum or a topic of National or global significance.
In turn, the student teachers enhanced their subject knowledge, teaching practice and gained valuable experience in how to effectively promote STEM careers, getting apprentices and studying in Higher Education to young people.
The project also included delivering Continuing Professional Development to teachers and technicians to demonstrate how to run similar events.
Edge Hill staff Sally Ann Warnes, Science Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Team leader and Strategic Partnership Lead with National Science Learning Network (NW Consortium) organised and delivered at all STEM Days and Louise Hawxwell, Senior lecturer in Primary and Early Years Science led the way on the Key Stage 1 and 2 STEM day.
Sally Ann said: “The idea behind creating our STEM days across all phases was to provide multiple opportunities for our student teachers across all ITE programmes to teach pupils here at Edge Hill, working with our partner schools, to experience a day of learning outside the classroom.
“It is of National importance to encourage children to study STEM subjects because there is a national shortage of STEM skills and expertise in the workplace that we have a responsibility to help address.
“We need 40,000 engineers every year alone, to qualify and enter the job market, for us to just to stand still as a UK economy, let alone have a surplus of engineering talent to hold our own within the competitive Global markets and participate innovatively.”
“It is vital therefore, to train the next generation of STEM teachers to provide high quality, inspirational, world class education and careers guidance to our younger generation, in the hope that they too will look to embarking on a rewarding STEM Career such as teaching or engineering.”
The events at Edge Hill University incorporated subjects as diverse as introducing physics and exploring changes to Key Stage 1 and 2 students to working with DNA themes in Key Stage 3.
Key Stage 1 and 2 children explored change through a variety of different contexts –from structures and sound to producing different types of movement with energy. The children worked in small groups with trainees planning and delivering the sessions and learning experiences. The children were able to explore the different activities in the various labs in the University’s Biosciences building.
Key Stage 4 students worked through examples relating to an Ebola outbreak which included all STEM subjects. In science the groups looked at how diseases are spread and how to prevent infection and in technology they made LED torches to use in remote locations and for doctors to examine Ebola patients. In mathematics, the pupils developed skills in mathematical modelling and graphical representation of the scale of numbers involved with potential pandemics and the death toll as a consequence.
Key Stage 5 activities allowed AS Level pupils to be an engineer for a day, solving real life engineering problems across many topics and demonstrating what students needed to know about the various routes they could take into engineering. The students learned how to make plastic from potatoes, and also deployed equations and analysed factors affecting the power outputs of turbines.
The Key Stage specific STEM days were planned, taught and managed by Edge Hill’s student teachers, currently completing teaching degrees and PGCEs, who all mapped their teaching activities to the National Curriculum 2014 or key STEM priorities. These include getting pupils into engineering and motivating young people to consider STEM Careers by being inspired by the National STEM Centre careers pages and DfE’s Your Life campaign.
The events have proved so popular that there’s a waiting list for schools to take part in the next schedule.
One student particularly enjoyed getting the DNA out of strawberries, and a Key Stage 5 student fed back “I have been inspired to look at the maths behind engineering”, another adding “I want to use my maths for a STEM Career in Civil Engineering.”
Louise Hawxwell added: “The themed STEM days have provided valuable team planning, teaching and experiences for student teachers to embed cross curricular approaches in making learning and teaching fun within their STEM subjects. These enhancement experiences will apply directly to teaching in the classrooms during their placements and when they secure their first jobs.”
Find out more about STEM teaching here.
To take part in an Edge Hill STEM day, contact Science Lead, Sally Ann Warnes