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Autumn STEM Guide

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

  • STEM related autumn events and themed days/weeks
  • Quick, easy website and activity suggestions for how to get involved (click on the pictures to find out more)
  • Autumnal 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 mild weather to frosty starts, from darker evenings to colourful trees, Autumn has it all! Make the most of this time of transition with these STEM events.

National Coding Week (14-20th September)

National Coding Week aims to build people’s confidence and digital skills through fun, engaging coding events. You can take part by learning to code. There are lots of great coding activities and games online to help you with this.

How to get involved…

Biology Week (3-11th October)

Biology Week showcases the important and amazing world of the biosciences, getting everyone from children to professional biologists involved in fun and interesting life science activities.

How to get involved…

World Space Week (4-10th October)

World Space Week is an international celebration of science and technology, and their contribution to the betterment of the human condition. World Space Week consists of space education and outreach events held by space agencies, aerospace companies, schools, planetariums, museums, and astronomy clubs around the world.

How to get involved…

International Archaeology Day (17th October)

International Archaeology Day (IAD) is a celebration of archaeology and its contributions to society. Every October the AIA and archaeological organisations around the world present archaeological programs and activities for people of all ages and interests. 

How to get involved…

Chemistry Week (18-24th October)

National Chemistry Week (NCW) is a public awareness campaign that promotes the value of chemistry in everyday life. This years theme is ‘Sticking with Chemistry’. Visit their website for educational resources linked to this theme.

How to get involved…

Nuclear Science Week (19-23rd October)

Nuclear Science Week is an international, broadly observed week-long celebration to focus local, regional and international interest on all aspects of nuclear science. Nuclear Science week explores what it means to “Think Clean. Think Solutions. Think Nuclear.” Click here to view lesson plans and resources on their website.

How to get involved…

Bonfire Night (5th November)

Try a bonfire night-themed STEM activity such as ‘Frozen Fireworks’. This activity explores the question ‘what happens when we mix fluids of different densities’. For full instructions click here.

National Recycling Week (11-17th November)

National Recycling Week to bring a national focus to the environmental benefits of recycling. Each year Recycle Week attempts to change people’s recycling behaviours while gaining positive publicity. It’s a great chance to raise awareness of the importance of recycling to children.

How to get involved…

Autumn STEM Resource Recommendations

Here are a few of our ‘must have’ Autumn 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 an autumn STEM event or a ‘must have’ autumn 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).

World Space Week

 

 

1 1 e1563895077879
1 1 e1563895077879

World Space Week, October 4-10 annually, is the largest space event on Earth. More than 5,000 events in over 80 countries celebrated the theme “Space Unites the World” in 2018. The 2019 theme is “The Moon: Gateway to the Stars.”

“The General Assembly declares 4 to 10 October World Space Week to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition”.

UN General Assembly resolution, 6 December 1999

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.

Our top 10 space books for 7-11yrs

top 10 space books 7-11yrs

If you’re preparing to blast off into space, you’ll probably want to take a good book. The same can be said if you’re about to embark on a space topic. Luckily for you we’ve got plenty of books to recommend. The books in this list are suitable for 7-11yr olds. To see our recommendations for 4-7yr olds click here.

Ready… steady…. blast off!

10. The Astronauts Handbook

Astronaut's Handbook

SUGGESTED AGE: 7+ years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Discover how you become an astronaut, the training you must undertake, how you travel into space and what you do when you’re up there. With a foreword from ESA astronaut Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to embark on a mission to the International Space Station. Published in association with the UK Space Agency.

For Amazon.co.uk click here             For Amazon.com click here

9. Older Than The Stars

SUGGESTED AGE: 7+ years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: How old are you? Older than you think. In a way, we are all as old as the universe itself. In fact, every bit of every one of us was created in the Big Bang, billions of years ago. Stunning illustrations and lively verse tell the story of the cosmic connections that tie human beings to the beginning of the universe. Simple, informative prose provides additional facts.

For Amazon.co.uk click here               For Amazon.com click here

8. Margaret and the Moon

Margaret and the Moon

SUGGESTED AGE: 6-9 years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Margaret Hamilton loved numbers as a young girl. She knew how many miles it was to the moon (and how many back). She loved studying algebra and geometry and calculus and using math to solve problems in the outside world. Soon math led her to MIT and then to helping NASA put a man on the moon! She handwrote code that would allow the spacecraft’s computer to solve any problems it might encounter. Apollo 8. Apollo 9. Apollo 10. Apollo 11. Without her code, none of those missions could have been completed.

For Amazon.co.uk click here              For Amazon.com click here

7. Pluto’s Secret

Pluto's Secret

SUGGESTED AGE: 6-10 years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: People, children especially, have been baffled, bewildered, and even outraged by the fact that Pluto is no longer called a planet. Through whimsical artwork and an entertaining dialogue format, Pluto’s Secret explains the true story of this distant world. Providing a history of the small, icy world from its discovery and naming to its recent reclassification, this book presents a fascinating look at how scientists organise and classify our solar system as they gain new insights into how it works and what types of things exist within it. The book includes a glossary and bibliography.

For Amazon.co.uk click here              For Amazon.com click here

6. Cool Astronomy

Cool Astronomy

SUGGESTED AGE: 7+ years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: 50 fun, simple and entertaining ways to improve your understanding of astronomy for kids of all ages! Discover how telescopes are made, learn about invisible light and study the scale of the universe in a way you’ll never forget! The follow-up to the popular Cool Science and Cool Maths, also by Portico. Inside this mega-jam-packed book are fifty fact-tastic ways to advance and improve your astronomy skills so you’ll never feel alone in the universe again! Learn amazing space-related tricks such as how to watch a solar eclipse safely and mapping stars from your own back garden, right down to expertly simplifying the supermassive numbers and distances involved in the space between space so you’ll never forget them! With Cool Astronomy, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the universe, from Asteroids to Zubenelgenubi… and almost everything in between!

For Amazon.co.uk click here               For Amazon.com click here

5. Women In Space

Women In Space

SUGGESTED AGE: 7+ years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Women in Space profiles 23 pioneers, including Eileen Collins, the first woman to command the space shuttle; Peggy Whitson, who logged more than a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station; and Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space; as well as astronauts from Japan, Canada, Italy, South Korea, France, and more. Readers will also learn about the Mercury 13, American women selected by NASA in the late 1950s to train for spaceflight. Though they matched and sometimes surpassed their male counterparts in performance, they were ultimately denied the opportunity to head out to the launching pad. Their story, and the stories of the pilots, physicists, and doctors who followed them, demonstrate the vital role women have played in the quest for scientific understanding.

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this book and then check out our profiles of some of the women featured, using them as a basis for further research.

For Amazon.co.uk click here                For Amazon.com click here

4. A Users Guide to the Universe

A User's Guide to the Universe

SUGGESTED AGE: 10+ years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Answers to science’s most enduring questions from “Can I break the light-speed barrier like on Star Trek?” and “Is there life on other planets?” to “What is empty space made of?” This is an indispensable guide to physics that offers readers an overview of the most popular physics topics written in an accessible, irreverent, and engaging manner while still maintaining a tone of wry skepticism. Even the novice will be able to follow along, as the topics are addressed using plain English and (almost) no equations. Veterans of popular physics will also find their nagging questions addressed, like whether the universe can expand faster than light, and for that matter, what the universe is expanding into anyway. Gives a one-stop tour of all the big questions that capture the public imagination including string theory, quantum mechanics, parallel universes, and the beginning of time Explains serious science in an entertaining, conversational, and easy-to-understand way Includes dozens of delightfully groan-worthy cartoons that explain everything from special relativity to Dark Matter Filled with fascinating information and insights, this book will both deepen and transform your understanding of the universe.

For Amazon.co.uk click here            For Amazon.com click here

3. The Night Sky

The Night Sky

SUGGESTED AGE: 8+ years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Children eight and up will enjoy this conversational but information-packed introduction to astronomy and stargazing, which includes the achievements of the great scientists, the history of space exploration, the story of our solar system, the myths behind the constellations, and how to navigate the night sky. Whimsical color illustrations on every page and handy definitions and sidebars help engage younger readers and develop their interest. The special star wheel helps locate stars and planets from any location at any time of year. This is the third in Black Dog & Leventhal’s successful series including The Story of the Orchestra and A Child’s Introduction to Poetry.

For Amazon.co.uk click here              For Amazon.com click here

2. Astronomy & Space

Astronomy & Space

SUGGESTED AGE: 5-11yrs

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: A comprehensive guide to the solar system accompanied by mesmerising photography and intricate illustrations. Children can learn about star groups, explore space and follow the Usborne Quicklinks to find out more. A great book to dip in and out of, for homework and for pleasure.

For Amazon.co.uk click here              For Amazon.com click here

1. The Astronaut Instruction Manual

SUGGESTED AGE: 7+ years

DESCRIPTION FROM THE PUBLISHER: Endorsed by authors, teachers, and congressman alike, Mike Mongo’s Astronaut Instruction Manual excites a new generation of space explorers. The book, designed for children between the ages of 6 and 13, is a functioning, interactive instruction manual. Using mad-lib-style fill-in-the-blanks, Mongo encourages his readers to articulate and illustrate their own vision of next-generation space travel. The Astronaut Instruction Manual captures a new era of enthusiasm for space exploration, driven in part by new space celebrities (Commander Chris Hadfield, Elon Musk), and in part by a shift in popular interest in space (SpaceX rockets, The Mars Colonial Transporter, Kerbal).”

IDEAS FOR USE: Read this book and then link it to our profiles of inspiring astronauts, using them as a basis for further research.

For Amazon.co.uk click here              For Amazon.com click here

See our space books & apps page for other great books for this age range such as ‘Phoenix’ , ‘George’s Secret Key to the Universe‘, ‘The War of the Worlds‘ and ‘Cosmic‘.

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