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Daffodil Dissection

Daffodil Dissection

You will need

  • A daffodil
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers (optional)
  • Magnifying glass (optional)

How to do it

  1. Take a daffodil and carefully begin the dissection. Start with the outer parts of the daffodil: sepal, petals etc.
  2. Use a pair of scissors to cut the corona. You may also want to use tweezers to assist with the dissection.
  3. Continue to dissect the remaining parts of the daffodil, laying them out on a flat surface.
  4. Use a magnifying glass to take a closer look at each part of the daffodil.

What are we learning

A flower dissection is a great way to get children to really engage with the parts of a flower. Flowers like daffodils and lilies work particularly well for this activity. Children will enjoy discovering and labelling all the different parts of the flower and researching their purposes.

Investigate

Go on a nature walk and look at other types of flowers. What flower parts do they have in common? What are the differences?

Careers associated with this activity

Drain Disaster

Drain Disaster

You will need

  • A shoebox
  • Scissors
  • Blue fabric/paper
  • String
  • Lolly sticks
  • Keys, card, coins, receipt etc
  • A magnet
  • Paperclips
  • Chopsticks

How to do it

  1. Turn a shoebox into a drain by cutting slits in the lid.
  2. Add blue fabric or paper for ‘water’.
  3. Drop in items to rescue (keys, credit card, coins, receipt etc).
  4. Time to get rescuing! You could use paperclips, magnets or chopsticks. Or try out other ways to rescue each item.

What are we learning

 This activity helps to develop soft skills such as creative thinking, communication and problem solving. Encourage children to think for themselves about how they will use the equipment to rescue each item. There is likely to be an element of trial and error. Discuss with your child the benefit of making these mistakes. They are an important part of the learning process and help us to improve!

Investigate

Find out more about the job of a water engineer.

Careers associated with this activity

Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing

You will need

  • ice cubes
  • A bowl of cold water
  • Food colouring
  • String
  • Salt

How to do it

  1. Fill a bowl with cold water.
  2. Add a drop of food colouring to the water to create a colour contrast. Mix well.
  3. Drop in the ice cubes.
  4. Position your ‘fishing rod’ (string) across the ice.
  5. Sprinkle salt on the areas where the string and ice meet. Then leave for one minute.
  6. Lift up the string to see how much ice your fishing rod has caught!

What are we learning

Salt lowers the freezing point of water, helping to dissolve it faster. As it melts, the string sinks into the ice cube. The water dilutes the salt/water mixture, causing the ice on the top to refreeze, trapping the string. 

Investigate

Find out about how salt is used on icy roads to keep them safe in the winter.

Careers associated with this activity

Flower Chemistry

Flower Chemistry

You will need

  • A flower
  • A pestle and mortar
  • A jug of water and a teaspoon
  • Vinegar
  • Bicarbonate of Soda
  • A paint/baking tray

How to do it

  1. Drop two petals into a pestle and mortar.
  2. Add two teaspoons of water and mix until the water changes colour.
  3. Use a syringe to collect up the mixture. Then add it into three different tray wells.
  4. Add a teaspoon full of vinegar to the first tray well and mix. This is your acid indicator.
  5. Add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda mixed with water to the second tray well and mix. This is your base indicator.
  6. Compare the colours in each tray well. What is different about them? Why do you think this is?

What are we learning

A rose is an example of an acid-base indicator. Other flowers that you could use include tulips and pansies. When we add an acid it turns the petal mixture an orange or pink colour. When we add the base it turns the petal mixture a blue or purple colour.

Investigate

Now try this with a range of other flowers. Which ones are acid-base indicators? You could also try this activity with fruit and vegetables.

Careers associated with this activity

Spring STEM Guide

Welcome to the Spring 2022 edition of our seasonal STEM guides! It contains:

  • STEM related Spring events and themed days/weeks
  • Quick, easy website and activity suggestions for how to get involved (click on the pictures to find out more)
  • Spring STEM resource recommendations

Diaries at the ready! The events listed below are a really good way to help theme your STEM activities and help children to make real-world links. Spring is full of new life; from tree buds and colourful bulbs emerging from the ground to lambs, frogspawn and early butterflies. Spring is a hopeful time when we can spend longer outside and enjoy all the season has to offer. Make the most of it with these STEM events.

International Women’s Day (8th March)

International Women’s Day is an annual event. It’s all about celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality. t is a way to show how women have and continue to influence the world. As well as celebrating brilliant women, it’s also used as a day to highlight and raise awareness about issues that women still face. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field.

How to get involved…

British Science Week (11-20th March)

British Science Week is a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths that takes place between 11-20 March 2022. British Science Week provides a platform to stimulate and support teachers, STEM professionals, science communicators and the general public to produce and participate in STEM events and activities.

The theme for the 2022 activity packs is ‘Growth’.

How to get involved…

World Water Day (22nd March)

World Water Day is a UN observance day, with the aim to highlight the importance of freshwater. It celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. It is all about taking action to tackle the global water crisis. 

The UN uses this day to highlight the importance of water usage and the effects it can have on climate change. The campaign shows how our use of water can help reduce floods, droughts, scarcity and pollution, and how it can help fight climate change itself.

How to get involved…

National Robotics Week (4-10th April)

The mission of National Robotics Week (RoboWeek) is simple: to inspire students into robotics and STEM related fields, and share the excitement of robotics across all ages. It showcases the strength of the industry and the amazing things yet to come. Activities can come in all shapes and sizes from a robot themed party to a robotics competition.

How to get involved…

Earth Day (22nd April)

The Earth Day 2022 Theme is Invest In Our Planet. This is the moment to change it all — the business climate, the political climate, and how we take action on climate. Now is the time for the unstoppable courage to preserve and protect our health, our families, our livelihoods… together, we must Invest In Our Planet.

How to get involved…

International Astronomy Day (7th May)

International Astronomy Day is a worldwide event which is observed annually on the 7th May. It’s intended to promote greater education and understanding of the universe, as well as the ways in which we can observe it. Star-gazing, visits to planetariums and astronomy workshops are common activities.

How to get involved…

Spring STEM Resource Recommendations

Here are a few of our ‘must have’ Spring STEM resources. We think you’ll come back to them year after year with your children! Click on each picture to view it on Amazon.

Have we missed off a winter STEM event or a ‘must have’ winter STEM resource? If so then add it to the comments below. (note: this is a UK based website so some events have a UK focus).

The Big Blog of Diversity in STEM Books

Every young person should see similar people to themselves succeeding in STEM.

“You can’t be what you can’t see”

Marian Wright Edelman (American activist for children’s rights)

However…

  • Women are underrepresented in STEM fields, making up just 24% of the overall UK STEM workforce
  • Black, minority ethnic and disadvantaged young people are also consistently underrepresented within STEM.
  • Disabled and neurodivergent people experience barriers to success in STEM.

A powerful way to address this and challenge stereotypes is by exposing students to a diverse range of STEM role models from a young age. Picture books are a fantastic starting point.

Here are some of our favourite Diversity in STEM books. Click on the image to find the book on Amazon.

Take the time to review the STEM literature in your bookshelves and make sure it’s sending the message to our young people that STEM is for everyone.

DIVERSITY IN STEM BOOKS

Have we missed a great diversity in STEM book? Comment below and we’ll add it on.

How To Organise a STEM Week

The idea for HowToSTEM was first planted in my mind back in 2018 when I decided to organise a STEM week at my primary school. Full of enthusiasm, I turned to the internet for inspiration, only to find… well, not a lot!

I wanted to share with my colleagues a selection of activities that were:

  • Quick
  • Easy-to-resource
  • Low budget
  • Suitable for both KS1 and KS2
  • Clearly explained the learning

Everything I found seemed to be entirely the opposite of that. With so much out there for the well-trodden maths or science weeks, surely someone must have organised a STEM week in their school?

With the dawning realisation that I was going to have to look beyond Google for inspiration I put my thinking cap on and created an overview of how I wanted our STEM week to look. One of the most important outcomes I wanted to achieve was for the students to see how the disciples of science, technology, engineering and maths combine together in the real-world to create exciting job opportunities. I also wanted them to see the diversity of those roles. These subjects open so many more doors than simply being a scientist or a mathematician. Video games designer, zoologist, pilot… the list goes on and on! Perhaps if we could inspire them with the breadth of opportunity we could help to keep them engaged for longer?

Choose a Theme

STEM covers such a broad range of areas that its impossible to do them all justice in a week. Picking a theme helps to focus the activities and allow you go to into greater depth. With a bit of forward planning you may even be able to coincide this theme with an annual event such as ‘World Space Week’ or ‘National Robotics Week’.

Here are just a few examples that I’ve used in the past:

If a whole school theme approach isn’t for you then an alternative is to allocate separate year group STEM themes. This allows you to represent a wide range of STEM areas, all in one week. You can choose whether to link each theme to what the children have been learning or go completely off curriculum.

From here you can then decide on the STEM activities you will do. There’s plenty of inspiration across ’15-Minute STEM’ Books 1 & 2 and each activity ticks the boxes of being quick, easy-to-resource, suitable for KS1/2 and clearly explaining the learning.

Have an End Goal

Consider the following:

  • How much of the weekly timetable will be set aside for STEM? The whole week? Every afternoon?
  • Will each year group be working on one big project or a series of smaller projects?
  • How will you share the learning with the school community?
  • How will you display the learning around the school?

Your STEM week will create quite a buzz throughout the school community. Make sure you plan in opportunities to celebrate the learning. This could be through an assembly at the end of the week. Or you could organise a STEM week exhibition where STEM activities are laid out for parents/carers and other classes to peruse. I recently heard of a school who held a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style event at the end of their STEM week. Each year group had been challenged to create a product linked to their whole school STEM theme and concluded the week by pitching it to the ‘dragons’ (a selection of governors!)

stem

You’ll find you have plenty of wonderful creations to decorate the school with. Liaise with colleagues in advance to make sure they keep a sample of the work for display. Think about the area/notice boards you will use for the display and whether you will need a size restriction. STEM creations that are too large for display and may need to be photographed instead..

Arrange workshops and visitors

Wherever you are based there are likely to be many people in your local community willing to work with your school during the week. When organising visiting speakers and workshops, consider reaching our to places such as relevant university departments, nearby zoos, local museums, and, of course, STEM ambassadors. If you’re not already aware of the STEM ambassadors scheme, they have over 30,000 ambassadors who volunteer their time and expertise to promote STEM to young people. Contact your nearest STEM ambassador hub to arrange a visit. My top tip would be to do so a few months in advance of your STEM week, detailing exactly the areas you will be focusing on. They can then include your school in their monthly email to ambassadors and will help to pair you up with the most relevant people to your topic. Aim to organise a visiting speaker or workshop per year group, as well as a STEM assembly or two. Our STEM week was launched with a fantastic assembly from the local university’s chemistry department, complete with explosions!

You can find lots of examples of STEM careers on our website. Check out the profiles and use these to help narrow down the kinds of careers that you would like to share with the children throughout the week.

It’s easy to think you need to spend lots of money booking workshops and visitors. I’ll let you in on a secret: the only cost incurred for our STEM week was the project resources (card, dowel etc, most of which were acquired cheaply from places like Scrapstore). Every single visitor and workshop was completely free! Granted, the school was well-located in a large city but with a bit of effort and a few emails, I hope you could achieve something similar almost anywhere in the country.

Make use of parents/carers

One of your most valuable resources is standing right outside your classroom door! You’d be amazed how many of the parents and carers within your school community have STEM experience. Spread the word about your week and you will most likely find volunteers willing to lead workshops or Q&A sessions linked to their career. During our STEM week we had all sorts of wonderful visitors including pilots, boat builders, wind farm engineers and firemen. Their knowledge and expertise brought a depth to the week that we as teachers would struggle to attain and made our lives much easier in the process!

Make sure that your introduce the children to a diverse representation of STEM people. This is a fantastic way to challenge STEM stereotypes that can become embedded from an early age. For example, inviting in female role models helps to challenge the misconception that STEM subjects are ‘male’.

Winter STEM Guide

Welcome to the Winter 2021/22 edition of our seasonal STEM guides! It contains:

  • STEM related winter events and themed days/weeks
  • Quick, easy website and activity suggestions for how to get involved (click on the pictures to find out more)
  • Wintery STEM resource recommendations

Diaries at the ready! The events listed below are a really good way to help theme your STEM activities and help children to make real-world links. From frosty starts to roaring fires, from festive feels to valentines joy, Winter is a time to get cosy and enjoy all the season has to offer. Make the most of it with these STEM events.

Computer Science Week (7-14th December 21)

Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) is an annual call to action to inspire children to learn computer science, advocate for equity in computer science education, and celebrate the contributions of students, teachers, and partners to the field. This week is held in recognition of the birthday of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (9th Dec 1906) who coined the term “bug” (an error in a program) after removing an actual moth from a computer in 1947!

How to get involved…

Christmas (25th December)

‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year!’

There are lots of Christmas activities that make great STEM links. Make the most of the darker, cosier evenings by curling up with a wintery STEM book. See below for our ‘seasonal STEM books’ recommendations. Plus, keep your eyes peeled for our STEM advent calendar! Behind each door is a quick, easy STEM activity that you can do with children.

How to get involved…

RSPB’s Big School’s Birdwatch (5th Jan- 22nd Feb 2022)

RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch (28th-30th Jan 2022)

Big Garden Birdwatch: Be wowed by your local wildlife. Simply count the birds you see in your garden, from your balcony or in your local park for one hour between 28 and 30 January 2022.

Big School’s Birdwatch: If you’re a teacher, why not take part in the RSPB’s Big School’s Birdwatch. You can submit your results on the RSPB website from the 5th Jan-22nd Feb.

RSPB’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and the reason it’s been going for so long is because it’s such valuable work. The results that schools submit to the RSPB are used by scientists to help create a picture of how birds are faring across the UK.

How to get involved…

NSPCC Numbers Day (4th February 2022)

Join schools across the UK on Friday 4 February 2022 for the NSPCC’s mega maths fundraising day.

Take part in Dress up for Digits and have a fun-filled day of maths activities and games, while raising money to support our services such as Childline.

The money you raise could help the NSPCC run its Speak out Stay safe programme to help children understand what abuse is and what to do if they’re scared or worried.

How to get involved…

Safer Internet Day (8th February 2022)

Safer Internet Day 2022 will be celebrated on 8th February with the theme ‘All fun and games? Exploring respect and relationships online’.

From gaming and chat, to streaming and video, young people are shaping the interactive entertainment spaces they are a part of. Safer Internet Day 2022 celebrates young people’s role in creating a safer internet, whether that is whilst gaming and creating content, or interacting with their friends and peers.

How to get involved…

Engineers Week (20-26th February 2022)

Founded by NSPE in 1951, Engineers Week (February 20–26, 2022) is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers.

Engineers Week celebrates the positive contributions that engineers have made to the quality of life. It’s also an opportunity to increase diversity within the workplace, reinforce good education, and increase interest and understanding of the trade.

Celebrating Engineers Week enables young people to be inspired and motivated to get involved in engineering, especially if teachers and parents contribute. Dedicating lesson time to engineering will help children to understand the basics, so they can decide if they want to pursue it as a career.

How to get involved…

Winter STEM Resource Recommendations

Here are a few of our ‘must have’ Winter STEM resources. We think you’ll come back to them year after year with your children! Click on each picture to view it on Amazon.

Have we missed off a winter STEM event or a ‘must have’ winter STEM resource? If so then add it to the comments below. (note: this is a UK based website so some events have a UK focus).

5 ways to get started with STEM education


STEM education… we hear those words a lot nowadays. We know that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) will play a crucial role in shaping our futures. STEM education is a cross-discipline approach to teaching these subjects with problem solving at its heart. Great STEM education works through activities with real-world applications, helping children to understand how their learning is relevant and how they could use it in the future.

But how do we get started with it?

Here are 5 quick, easy to implement ways to help get you started.

Remember…

  • You don’t need to be an expert in STEM to deliver great STEM education.
  • You don’t need lots of spare time in your day to fit STEM education in.
  • You don’t need lots of expensive resources.

Start with these small steps and you’ll steadily see the STEM culture in your classroom grow!


 

STEM activities with a practical, real-world purpose are a really fun way to engage children with STEM education. Not only that but they’re a great way to get children working collaboratively – perfect for the start of the academic year!

I truly believe that it’s possible to slot high-quality STEM education into those spare 15 minutes in your day.

Take my 15-Minute STEM books. Each book contains 40 activities, each starting with a curiosity question to spark interest and excitement. They give you activity instructions and an explanation of the learning. There’s even suggestions for further investigation if you wish to take the activity further.

Or check out the free STEM activities on our website here. New activities are added regularly!


How to get started with simple STEM activities:


Our year is packed full of rich opportunities to set STEM education within a real-world context. From seasonal celebrations such as Halloween or Easter to special days/weeks such as National Space Week or Ada Lovelace Day.

It’s always good to be aware of whats coming up each month so you can plan opportunities to link your STEM learning to it. For example, Autumn is the perfect time to try out our free Frozen Fireworks activity.

We’ve put together a handy guide for each season so you can plan ahead. You can find these in our blog section. We also recommend you make links to local events going on in your community, as well as to global events going on in the news.


How to get started with celebrating STEM events:


When you think STEM education, what kind of equipment comes to mind? Robotics, Raspberry Pi, 3D printers… expensive stuff!

STEM education doesn’t need to break the budget. It can also be all of these things: cardboard boxes, lolly sticks, yoghurt pots and elastic bands. The kinds of things we have lying around our homes and classrooms.

Instead of throwing these things out, save them up, safe in the knowledge they will soon come in handy for a STEM activity! Over time you could build up a class or school ‘Makerspace’, an area to store creative materials. For now a box in your cupboard will do.


How to get started with saving STEM resources:


It’s easy to underestimate the influence of a book on a child’s understanding of the world. Stories help to shape children’s perspectives and form their understanding of cultural and gender roles. What better way to teach the importance of STEM skills than through a book?

There are lots of fantastic fiction books around that your class will love. See below for some of our suggestions, including seasonal STEM books and maths picture books.

STEM books are also a great way to address diversity and challenge stereotypes in STEM. They help to introduce positive role models and to raise the profile of influential people in STEM.


How to get started with reading STEM books:


What better way to bring STEM education to life than with STEM visitors. When we invite in people working in STEM careers we not only help to educate children a bit more about the world of work but also to introduce them to a range of positive role models.

Why not start with the school playground? Reach out to the parents in your school community to see if they would be willing to speak to the class about their jobs. You may well be surprised by the offers you get!

Additionally try approaching local companies and businesses. You will find they are often only too happy to help out and some really productive relationships can come about as a result of this.


How to get started with speaking to STEM visitors:


STEM education around the world

STEM education around the world

STEM education is a global endeavour to improve the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical skills of children and young people. Every country around the world has a different approach to implementing it: whilst some are embedding it within their educational policies, others are delivering it through external organisations

This got us thinking. How does STEM education differ between countries? Who is doing it ‘best’? We’ve done our research and these are the findings:

In 2015, all Australian education ministers agreed to the National STEM School Education Strategy 2016-2026 which focuses on  developing mathematical, scientific and digital literacy; and promoting problem-solving, critical analysis and creative thinking skills. The strategy aims to deliver improvements to STEM education and has two main goals:

  1. Ensure all students finish school with strong foundational knowledge in STEM and related skills
  2. Ensure that students are inspired to take on more challenging STEM subjects

In 2017, the STEM Partnerships Forum was established as one of the key national collaborative actions under the National STEM School Education Strategy 2016-2026. The Forum brought together leaders from industry and education to facilitate a more strategic approach to school-based partnerships with businesses and industry across Australia in order to develop the engagement, aspiration, capability and attainment of students in STEM.

The Australian Government Department of Education commissioned the National STEM School Education Resources Toolkit in response to a STEM Partnerships Forum recommendation. The aim of the National STEM School Education Resources Toolkit is to assist schools and industry to establish new STEM initiatives, form school-industry partnerships, and evaluate existing and future STEM initiatives.

There are various organisations set up in the UK to support STEM education in schools. These include STEM Learning which delivers STEM CPD and a STEM ambassadors programme, and the British Science Association, a charity developing reports and resources for supporting STEM learning.

Scotland has a long tradition of expertise, innovation and achievement in STEM, viewing it as an  integral part of their future economic and social development. In 2017, the Scottish Government published the STEM Education and Training Strategy for Scotland. This set out a vision of Scotland as a STEM nation: with a highly-educated and skilled population equipped with the STEM skills, knowledge and capability required to adapt and thrive in the fast-paced, changing world and economy around us. The 2020 second annual report discusses how Scotland has build upon the progress made.

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in education and training publication sets out the Welsh Government’s strategic objectives for the provision of STEM for 3 to 19-year-olds in Wales. This includes guidance for making curriculum links to STEM education.

Meanwhile, Ireland has developed a STEM Education Policy Statement 2017-2026 which focusses on the many strengths in STEM education while providing a roadmap to address the areas for development.

The STEM Education Strategic PlanCharting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education, published in December 2018, sets out a federal strategy for the next five years based on a vision for a future where all Americans will have lifelong access to high-quality STEM education and the United States will be the global leader in STEM literacy, innovation, and employment.

In December 2020, the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House issued the Progress Report on the Implementation of the Federal STEM Education Strategic Plan. This progress report describes ongoing efforts and implementation practices across the Federal Government as it works to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Strategic Plan.

The New Zealand government has recently been encouraging schools to promote STEM education in the hope that this will ease the STEM skills shortage. The Ministry of Education supports teacher training programs such as Teach First and Manaiakalani Digital Teachers Academy programme which help to place high performing STEM graduates and digitally confident teachers in education.

A national strategic plan, A Nation of Curious Minds, is a government initiative with a ten-year goal to promote the importance of science and technology in New Zealand. Since 2015 it has funded more than 175 projects in excess of $NZD 6 million.

India is the second most populous country in the world. In 2015 Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi launched the ‘Skill India‘ campaign, aimed at training over 400 million young people in different skills by 2022. One such skill is STEM education. One challenge the country faces in doing so is designing the infrastructure and curriculum to support this objective. Since the campaign began there has been a focus on developing innovation and manufacturing skills from a young age. The India STEM Foundation organisation works in partnership with India’s Department for Science and Technology to promote STEM education across the country.  Other organisations playing a pivotal role in developing STEM education in India include STEM Champ and EduTech.

After reviewing the government policy initiatives and third sector contributions in these countries, we think Australia may be slightly ahead of the game. But what do you think? Add your comments on this below.