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).

Tomorrow’s Engineers Week

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1 2 e1563895390132

The Tomorrow’s Engineers programme, led by the engineering community, provides a platform for employers to work effectively with schools to inspire more young people to consider a careers in engineering.

We need more engineers. For that we need more young people to understand how what they learn at school is used in the real world. Giving young people the chance to talk directly to engineers and engage in hands-on activities that showcase and contextualise engineering is at the heart of the Tomorrow’s Engineers approach.

Delivering national impact through local coordination, Tomorrow’s Engineers has directly reached over 300,000 young people in the past year. The vision is to create a national network of employers working locally to reach 1m young people every year with effective careers interventions from STEM employers. Tomorrow’s Engineers quality careers resources provide clear, consistent information for young people aged between 9 – 16, their teachers and parents.

Origami and STEM

origami and stem

There’s something about origami that really seems to capture children’s imagination. In most of the classes that I have taught over the years, there has been at least one child with a real passion for origami. Many a show-and-tell has been dominated by incredible paper-folding creations, from water bombs to paper dragons. Think back to your own school days; which of these origami classics do you remember creating?

Origami is the ancient art of Japanese paper folding and for many, a love of origami stems from childhood. As much as we might marvel at this paper art-form, do we see its potential beyond an interesting pastime? Origami has evolved to be much more than paper folding. Here are some examples, with real-world applications within areas such as engineering, medicine and technology.

origami and maths

At a primary school level, origami is a fantastic way to explore mathematical concepts including geometry, fractions and angles. Turning a simple square of paper into a piece of completed origami involves a lot of mathematical thinking. Origami instructions involve following steps of folds, often referred to as ‘crease patterns’, in order to create different geometric constructions. Children will need to use knowledge of directionality and angles in order to complete these correctly. Throughout the process they will create other shapes starting from a square including equilateral triangles, pentagons and hexagons. Patterns also feature heavily in origami.

The TED talk above, entitled ‘The math and magic of origami‘ explains in more detail about the complex mathematics involved in origami.origami and engineering

Many of the real-world applications for origami can be found within engineering. Take the example of car airbags. Did you know that their compact, quick inflating design was inspired by origami? Engineers took inspiration from origami patterns and folding methods to deploy how the airbag is stored and deployed. Engineers are continuing to draw upon origami techniques when developing new structures and technologies.

origami and medicine

In 2003, a new, origami-inspired heart stent design was created. Designed around an origami water bomb base, the purpose of the stent was to enlarge clogged arteries and veins. The origami design allows the stent to be expanded to different sizes depending on its application. Likewise, origami-inspired forceps are helping to revolutionise robotic surgery, allowing for delicate, precise cuts.

origami and space

There are plenty of examples of origami-inspired space technology. One such is the solar array. The combination of different folds expands into a large, flat circular surface. These solar arrays can then be used to convert solar energy into electrical power. More examples of how NASA engineers use origami to design future spacecraft can be found here:

 

And all this is just the start! I hope this blog has inspired you to find out more about the real-world applications of origami. Do let me know your thoughts and further ideas via social media or in the comments section below.