February Diary

posted Feb 16, 2015, 12:14 PM by Mrs Payne

Bury St Edmunds County Upper      Rolls Royce Science Prize        February 2015 Diary Entry

February Targets: 

·       Run a successful Astronomy event

·       Plan student led activities for the STEM Festival with the department and wider faculty

·       Meet with the Art department regarding student displays for the festival and programmes for the festival.

The Astronomy Evening was an unprecedented success. We were fully booked for the evening with 125 children and parents attending from schools across Bury St Edmunds. Using evaluations and experience from previous events we decided to pre plan the groups and arrange for the different activities to be run on a rotation system. This allowed for the children and parents to engage more fully with the activities, especially in the rooms where there was more complex activities running. Feedback from the evening was excellent. They all praised our staff and student ambassadors and thought that the majority of the activities were pitched at the right level. This is was really good for us to hear as this is the not only the first parent engagement we have run of this kind but also the KS2 age group was a new focus for the Upper school. It was also an excellent evening for our trust staff to be working together on. One parent commented . x and y both had a fantastic time and were so excited to tell me all about it. It really seems the evening was pitched at just the right level and really captured their imagination. x is science mad and already loved astronomy so I knew he would enjoy the evening. I wasn't sure whether y would enjoy it as she hasn't been so interested but she said it was 'amazing' and was reeling off all sorts of information about the planets etc.
Well done to everyone involved, your dedication and hard work is really appreciated.’ The only downside to the event is that by it’s very nature that it was an evening event so can be quite late for younger pupils, However many parents told me that they felt it was worth it as the children were so engaged by the activities. The parents also commented that they felt that it was fantastic that the event allowed them to work with their children and that it was free. Our student ambassadors involved also gained a huge amount from the experience. One year 11 boy in particular after working with the astronomers is keen to go to University to study exoplanets in more detail. The astronomers were so impressed with him that they have invited him to visit. Please see
Press release here                                                                                                                                                                                                         

We have now booked BT to help us run some robotics afternoons with the primary schools. These are booked for March 17th and March 26th. We have been running both a robotics club and a CoSpace club for our students. The CoSpace club has really taken off and the school are taking part in the Final on the 20th March. However the Robotics club has had less success. We think this is due to the time of day that the club is run but we will be running the club in the summer term and will use the robotics afternoons in the Primary’s as a catalyst for the trust club that we will be running. We therefore decided not to buy any further robot equipment at this point and to use the existing infrastructure for the younger students.                                                                                           

The STEM festival is just entering the final round of preparations. Having met with the department, we now have a working party who are actively involved in the running of the two days. This is fantastic for our staff in terms of giving as an opportunity to work on the project together. The department is split geographically within the school, so it can be difficult to meet and work actively together. The Project has helped to bring more cohesion to not only the school but the wider science trust. The art departments across the trust have followed suit and are running a competition with the pupils to design a front cover for the Festival Programme which I aim to have out by February 27th. Having also realised that the 20th March coincides with a Solar Eclipse that will reach 90% at 9:30(just before the festival begins) I changed plans slightly and contacted schools that have booked that they were welcome to  view the eclipse together with the rest of the school (indirectly of course) before the festival begins. We have already had 300 pupils book for the morning KS3 session and we have 114 pupils for the afternoon KS2 session. The Saturday event is aimed at the community as has already received a lot of attention – the buzz generated suggests that we will be very busy. The Astronomy evening feedback told us that parents in the area are very keen for the school to run more science events for them to engage in. They also commented that they would like to see Maths, Computing and Engineering Challenges being run by the trust for them to attend with their children. I have already discussed this with senior leaders and they are keen to for us to organise these. In addition to our original plans we will be running a Pre School Science room. This has developed due to one of our trust science coordinators being a reception teacher and she is currently completing her middle leader qualification which has parent engagement as one of her foci. Along side this our Head of Chemistry, who is very passionate about pre school science, has been developing lots of activities including glow in the dark noodles, playdough circuits and exploding milk. Reflecting on the CHaOs event the department feel that the freedom of movement that pupils had for the event worked really well and suits this event. We are therefore planning some booked in workshops, including extracting chemicals from plants – run by the SAW trust and a CoSpace workshop for KS2 run by our Maths department, while the rest of the hands on activities will be freely flowing as this created a nice atmosphere and the sessions will have plenty of time for people to look around all the activities.                       

 At this point it seems appropriate to start reflecting on the activities so far this year and their impact. We have already achieved so much in terms of improving cohesion across the trust schools and engaging students within our KS2, 3 and 4 phases. Our staff are developing their skills across the trust including myself. I have had to improve my delegation skills in order to manage the projects which has had knock effects on other staff such as Colin Hanfrey gaining more experience. It has wet his appetite for further responsibility and he is now looking forward to an aspiring head of science course in March. Our first event was the AMGEN year 11 activity. This involved 120 students not including our Sixth form science captains. The event really helped to put the science into context for the students with a lot of them feeding back they would now consider molecular biology as a career. I recently proof read a student’s record of achievement personal statement in which he stated that the activity had helped him to decide upon a career in the sciences and therefore he would be choosing science A levels this year.  The activities that have all had very different aspects to them but they all have allowed the students to gain real life, hands on experience of science. They have had their ideas challenged and they have equally challenged the staff involved.                                                                                     

To date – costs charged to Rolls Royce Science budget: £3000 – IPADs, £500 – Telescope,  £85 – ChaOs event, £31 – Science days, £43 Astronomy Evening consumables   = 3659(robot money not spent from previous month)                                                      

            March Targets: 

·       Complete Festival Programme and distribute

·       STEM festival event to run successfully; meet with trust on February 24th and with working party.

·       Run successful robotics afternoons with the primary schools

·       Start planning activities for June and beyond with the Trust partners