January Diary

posted Jan 20, 2015, 1:31 PM by Mrs Payne

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

Targets for January:

·       Meet with Full Department to plan the Astronomy event and the logistics of the STEM festival.

·       Meet with team members to designate individual roles for the large astronomy and STEM festival events

·       Send out marketing for both the Astronomy and STEM festival events.

·       Nadine and Colin to run successful Science Tuesdays with primary staff

·       Nicky and Nadine to plan BT Robot afternoons

    The new term started with the Science department meeting to discuss the Astronomy event and STEM Festival. Nadine outlined plans so far and asked for further input and/or help with the running of the events. The team are all taking different roles in the events. Six members of the department will be helping on the Astronomy evening with further five members of staff assisting from the other Trust schools led by Andy Price. Other staff have helped to coordinate the social media side of marketing the events – designing both a Facebook and twitter page. These will be advertised and linked to the school website by the end of the week beginning 19th January. The flyers have been produced for both events. The astronomy poster has gone out to schools with information about the event and how to book. To ensure that to event is well managed, it was decided by staff that a booking system was required – this would allow us to plan for the numbers coming and ensure that the planetarium sessions were organised. We have placed the online booking form on the science website and have already received a number of bookings. The evening will run with five different sessions which the public can move between: A hands on astronomy room, a computer lab, observations outside (if inclement weather, they will run another activity), a planetarium and a talk from the lead astronomer. We will also host the Naked Scientist Radio for the event. The focus will be KS2 but older and younger siblings will also attend.  With external providers for the STEM festival shaping up, the staff are now looking at the activities that our students will run for the festival – marshmallow catapults, Robots and amazing slime are some of the early favourites. The external exhibitors have been contacted with further details of the festival and asked to give a small description of their activity so that the team can make an information leaflet for people attending and for the website. Richard is also taking requests and organising the main hall.

The primary science days have gone remarkably well. Colin and Myself planned the activities with the Primary staff in year 3 and 4 and decided upon a space theme as it would lead up to the astronomy evening. Before Christmas staff involved met and planned investigation frameworks that the children could use to help them structure their ideas when investigating. If the sheets proved successful, then these would be used by primary staff each time to improve consistency when teaching science.  The sessions were led by myself and Colin with the staff in both Barrow and Tollgate primary. The children were enquiring into ‘how craters form on the moon’ and ‘how rockets fly’. They rotated through both sessions during the day. The children planned their own experiments for both activities. They investigated a range of things such as ‘how does angle effect the distance a rocket flies?’ and ‘how does the height a meteor falls from effect the crater size’. They planned fair tests in order to investigate their ideas. Their experiments involved lots of maths, with some pupils measuring accurately to the nearest mm and others making special protractors so that they could measure the changing angles that their rockets were flying at. The teachers were very excited by how the pupils engaged not only with the science but the maths involved and they have plans for extension work form the activities. One said that it was great to see an example of enquiry based science and how it linked to the curriculum. He felt he had gained confidence to let the students lead the learning. Our year 9 science ambassadors also gained a great deal from the experience.

Press release – click here

Nicky has organised a number of possible dates for the Robot afternoon and we are awaiting the primary schools agreement for the date in the next month. Nicky has started the Robotics club this month with an aim to entering the ROBOCUP dance in order to attract girls – something we would like to run as a Whole trust club in the future.                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Another aspect of the project has been the classroom revolution – a move to enquiry based teaching at Bury St Edmunds County Upper. In order to facilitate this the department bought 20 IPADS for use within lessons. This was part funded by the Project funding (£3000) with further funding coming from the PTA. When they heard what we had achieved and what our aims for the project they agreed to help the Science department. The IPADs have been used in a number of ways. Firstly, they have been used in experiments to help the students monitor experiments through videoing and data collection. The focus on skills has meant that students can quickly graph and analyse results and share results with each other. The teachers have also been using a number of different teaching apps that allow the students to interact and participate in lessons more fully (Near pod and Socrative are examples). These apps allow teachers to respond quicker to the students and tailor the lessons for more individualised learning. The students are also preparing exciting presentations using the tablets and researching ideas that they can question the staff about. Engagement in lessons has increased hugely, with students cherishing their use in lessons. The use of these apps and the IPADs formed part of the training that staff received earlier in the project.

Prior to having the IPADs, a teacher would need to book into a computer room (and these were nearly always in use by other subjects) meaning that student led learning was difficult.

In terms of costs so far, we have tried to ensure that money is spent wherever possible on sustainable items in order for us to forecast for future events next year. Due to use working with the greenlight trust and them using us as a pilot project, our year 6 trip was free – no costs to pay. Cover was not necessary as staff involved used non contact time and sixth form lessons to supervise. The transport was by means of school minibus and as Lawshall is close by – costs were minimal and absorbed by the middle schools involved.  The November year 7 challenge day involved 4 members of staff – staff involved all had a number of non contact periods that day so cover was minimal but was charged to the schools gifted and talented budget. Consumables for the day were £25 and photocopying was £10 – again charged to the gifted and talented budget. The CHaOs day cost £85 and as I was the only member of staff, there was no cover. All other staff involved came from the schools attending. The January primary science days have involved myself and Colin, again we have timetabled the events during mock exams and therefore no cover was required as classes were in exams. Consumables came in at a cost of £31. To date – costs charged to Rolls Royce Science budget: £3000 – IPADs, £500 – Telescope, £500 – Robotics equipment, £85 – ChaOs event, £31 – Science days   =  £4116                                                                

 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.