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).

National Coding Week

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National Coding Week is a not-for-profit social movement established to encourage children and adults to learn digital skills including coding.

Using the “Learn, Share and Have fun” philosophy we encourage organisations to offer adults opportunities and support in order to build their confidence.

They encourage those with digital skills to share them during the week – we especially hope that all organisations get involved including: hubs, libraries, training providers, NGOs.

10 STEM apps to get kids coding

We’ve listed our top 10 STEM apps to get kids coding. What’s more, they’re all free!

No. 10 – Swift Playground

SUMMARY: In this game, players write code to help their character, Byte, move around and collect gems. The accompanying tutorials make the game relatively easy to understand. The app is created by Apple and features beautiful visuals.

TOP TIP: The app takes up quite a lot of room on an ipad so make sure you have plenty of space. You’ll also need to be running one of the more recent software updates.Kodable

No. 9 – Kodable

SUMMARY: This app allows the player to sequence a set of instructions to make their character roll through the maze highlighted in each level. We love the simple kodable interface and friendly characters. This game is a great way to introduce young children to coding.

TOP TIP: There are some really great resources on this app for parents who need some help understanding the programming language used in the levels.

No.8 – Bee-Bot

SUMMARY: Many of us have used the tts bee-bots in the classroom and now you can access them through this free app! Much like the classroom floor robots, the aim of the game is to move the bee-bot around the screen to get to the flower. Players will need to program in directional code in order to do so.

TOP TIP: This app is a good introduction to coding and works well with younger children.

No. 7 – Daisy the Dinosaur

SUMMARY: The Daisy the Dinosaur character is sure to appeal to younger users as they guide Daisy through the different challenges. Each stage introduces new coding skills. There is an option either to work through the challenges or apply your new skills in ‘free play’.

TOP TIP: This game is worth downloading for its simple, child-friendly interface and the fact that it doesn’t charge for access to the more advanced levels!

No. 6 – Cargo Bot

SUMMARY: The aim of this game is to move the cargo around using the cargo-bot’s robotic arm. First time users can work their way through the tutorial levels before applying their coding skills to the main levels in the game. It’s a simple idea that proves to be an addictive challenge!

TOP TIP: This game is better suited to the upper end of the primary school age range due to the complexity of some of the levels.

Tynker

No. 5 – Tynker

SUMMARY: Tynker is full of lots of fun, story-based puzzles that gradually introduce the player to coding. Children will enjoy customising their character and appreciate the funny story lines.

TOP TIP: As with many of the apps we have featured, only a few levels of the game are available for free.

Lightbot

No. 4 – LightBot

SUMMARY: The user takes on the role of the lightbot, sequencing the instructions to make this character walk, jump and, most importantly, turn on lights. As the player progresses through the levels, there are clear tutorials for new actions.

TOP TIP: Some of the levels are fairly challenging so children may want to pair up and work together as the levels get more advanced.

Hopscotch

No.3 – Hopscotch

SUMMARY: As children drag and drop the commands and instructions into the script they will make the various characters move. We love the instructional videos that accompany each of the projects in this coding app.

No. 2 – Hour of Code

SUMMARY: Although not strictly an app, the Hour of Code website is full of one hour long coding tutorials. The tutorials are filtered by both age and ability and link up to many of the other coding apps recommended by us. Access it here:

TOP TIP: Watch the Hour of Code video with your class to inspire them with their coding and introduce them to some inspirational coding role models.

scratch jr

No. 1 – Scratch

SUMMARY: Now a staple app on most school ipads, Scratch Jr is a great way to introduce children to coding. The app involves programming scratch and his friends to move around using jigsaw-style coding blocks. It also allows the user to change the background, personalise the characters and add audio clips.

TOP TIP: First time users will need a bit of teacher guidance to get going as this app is not always self-explanatory.

 

For more great STEM app ideas, check out our webpage here.