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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).

How do you make clear ice cubes?

how do you make clear ice cubes

When it comes to making ice cubes I suspect we all have a similar technique: run the cold tap, fill up the ice cube moulds with cold water, pop in the freezer for a few hours and then remove as needed. In doing this, have you ever stopped to notice that the ice cubes you create are cloudy? In fact, they may well look like these images below:

Which got me thinking….

ice cube questions

The answer is simple and it has a lot to do with both the temperature of the water used to create the ice cubes and the way that the ice is frozen.To demonstrate this I’ve conducted a little experiment.

The Experiment

STEP 1: Take an ice cube tray and fill it with two different temperatures of water. Fill half the tray with water taken directly from the cold tap. Meanwhile the other half of the tray is filled with boiling water, straight from the kettle. Note: recently boiled water rather than water from the hot tap is best for demonstrating this. Adult supervision will be needed when trying this activity with children.

STEP 2: Carefully place your tray on a flat surface in the freezer. Make sure you’ve made a note of which end contains hot water and which contains cold!

STEP 3: Leave for a few hours, then remove and pop the ice cubes out to see the results!

 

What Are We Learning?

Boiling removes air bubbles from the liquid, allowing the water molecules to stick together even harder in the freezer. Removing these air bubbles also reduces the risk of the ice cube cracking or breaking into smaller pieces, meaning your drink stays colder for longer!

When we place the ice cube tray into the freezer, the water in the ice cube tray freezes at the outside of the cube first. This is the first part to cool down in the cold air of your freezer. As the water freezes, it pushes any impurities into the unfrozen part of the water. This means that any cloudiness is pushed to the centre of the ice cube as this is the final area to freeze. One way to counteract this is to use a technique called ‘directional freezing’ where the ice is frozen on one side first so all the cloudiness is pushed in the same direction. For example, if you freeze the ice from the top downwards then the cloudiness is pushed to the bottom, where it can then be chipped off to create a perfectly clear ice cube.

Next time you’re out at a restaurant, take a look at the ice cubes in your drink to see how clear they are!

 

The Big Blog of Seasonal STEM Books

If you’re looking for real world inspiration for your STEM activities then the seasons are a great place to start. We’ve recommended our favourite seasonal STEM books, dividing them between Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Within each category you will also find STEM books linked to seasonal events such as Easter, Halloween and Christmas. Our big blog enables you to look up books linked to the current season or plan your book order ready for the next one.

Click on each image to find out more about the book including the age recommendation, key concept and an Amazon link.

We’ll keep adding books to this blog as we come across them so do check back!

SPRING

SUMMER

AUTUMN

WINTER

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

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