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STEM at Home activities: Q&A with Kate Sutton

Kate Sutton, Burlington Junior School

Lunar Rover
Lunar Rover

While the recent pandemic caused the government to close schools, the Institution rose to the challenge by organising activities that students and young children could carry out at home.

By combining everyday, reusable items, our STEM at Home projects provide step-by-step instructions for students to compete to build the best CD racers, bridges and lunar rovers while learning engineering fundamentals as they go.

We caught up with Kate Sutton, whose class have been busy trying out the STEM at Home activities over the last month, to see how they have been received.

Q: Please let us know a bit more about you!

Kate Sutton (KS): I am a Year 6 teacher at Burlington Junior School in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, and also a PSQM Hub Leader, a Chartered Science Teacher, an Explorify Champion and a STEM Learning Associate Facilitator.  We are aiming to raise engagement and interest in STEM-related areas of learning at our school. My class have recently undertaken some of the activities from the STEM Toolkit, whilst working in a small class bubble of 10 children.

This was an interesting time- although working through a difficult period, the children have enjoyed working in our small class on individual challenges. This has really enabled them to develop patience, an understanding of making, resilience and determination. We are currently part of a SEERIH University of Manchester initiative, ‘Developing to be an Engineer’. The children are really enjoying this and the STEM at Home activities have linked well with current learning.

Q: Please tell us about your experience using the STEM at Home activities

KS: The children really enjoyed using the kit. It was very helpful during lockdown as all the equipment was ready to use and well organised. There are online tutorials to share with the children, in order to ensure an understanding of the task at hand if needed. Our pupils really enjoyed tinkering and learning through trial and error and also the reward of completing the task with a successful conclusion. They made catapults and also lunar rovers. They enjoyed the challenge of building and also getting their creations to work effectively.

Q: What has been the best aspect of these activities and why?

KS: It has been really helpful that the resources are good quality, pre-prepared and come with supporting material. The nature of the equipment means that as a teacher, there is no need to worry about the quality or relevance of resources. The activities are bright and engaging and the children were drawn to getting involved. It is also brilliant that these activities are all reusable and easy to store.

Q: Which activity have your students found the most fun?

KS: The children loved being given the time to tinker with the equipment and develop making skills and their understanding regarding engineering. They really enjoyed getting the catapults and cars to work (using their resilience and tinkering skills) and felt a sense of achievement when they did.

Q: What element/s would you like to see in the future?

I was very impressed with all of the equipment. I had to choose the activities which I felt the children could work on more independently, as we were all abiding by the two metre rule. I  look forward to future use of the reusable kit when they can work in teams and use their collaborative skills.


Catapult

Q: With the school summer holidays coming up, what would you say to anyone who hasn’t tried these activities yet?

KS: I would really urge people to utilise the STEM at Home resources and strongly recommend them. There has been a lot of thought put into these and the materials are good quality and ready to use. They really help the children to develop making skills and resilience whilst being engaging and fun activities for kids which use/develop core physics and engineering knowledge. They are relatively quick to do, with great results which the children will find very rewarding.

Thanks to Kate and her students for their great feedback. To join in the fun, download the worksheets and see videos of all the activities, visit the STEM at Home.
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