March Diary

posted Mar 25, 2015, 3:25 PM by Mrs Payne   [ updated Mar 25, 2015, 3:28 PM ]

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

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

Having had an amazing time in Iceland on the Science Learning Centre STEM visit over half term, myself and Mr Western came back to school fully energised with plans for organising a future trip for our students. Our plans include pairing the students with a researcher/industrial ambassador in England to plan an experiment prior to the visit which they would then complete during the trip. They would then analyse and present their findings upon their return at a presentation evening. This would be similar in style to a Nuffield Bursary project but for younger students. The visit to Iceland would include a trip to the geothermal power station, Geysirs, and mid atlantic ridge along with visits to the University in Reykjavik. The diversity of science present in Iceland would allow students to experience a range of different disciplines set in a real life context – allowing them to follow projects in many different areas.  Nicky Hughes organised and ran one of our Robotics afternoons at Tollgate Primary School – this went exceptionally well. She worked alongside two BT ambassadors with the Year 3 at the school on March 12th. Nicky gave much thought to the running of the activity in terms of how much to help the pupils with the building and programming. After some discussion we decided that we shouldn’t underestimate 8 year olds and went with the idea that they would gain a great deal more from the experience if they worked together in groups to build and programme as much as they could – and it worked. Nicky received excellent feedback from both the students and staff; they wanted to know when Nicky could come in again next term! I shall accompany her when we visit Barrow Primary school on the 26th March.  Nicky has had further success with our year 9’s at the CoSpace final where our teams came second and third! This means we will be going to Singapore for the international final.                                                                                                           

The department has been busy this month with the final plans for the Science Festival. Having met several times as a group, it has been incredible to see how everyone has come together to help with the festival. It is always difficult to organise an event of this scale, so we wrote an action plan that gave everyone designated responsibilities for tasks leading up to the event and on the day. This has worked incredibly well, allowing me to project lead and give everyone ownership over particular aspects of the day. Then the big day arrived! Friday 20th saw just over 500 children (Years 3 – 9) from schools in the area visit the school over 5 hours. We ran two sessions in order to manage the different age groups which worked really well. We managed to attract a number of outside companies to the festival (The Welding Institute, Marshalls, UEA, EDF, Vitec, Treatts, John Innes, IFR and Kinetic Science) who worked alongside our students with their activities ( These were all manned by our science ambassadors – Year 9 – 13). All of the project partners were able to come together for the Science Festival – all with their own parts to play. Nicky organised the CoSpace workshops for the schools festival, while John brought a team from Treatts to show students how flavours are extracted and used to blend different flavoured drinks. Colin and Andy helped me to organise and run the two days while Richard coordinated all of the exhibitors and their requirements along with all of the equipment needed by our students. 

The timing of this months diary means that we haven’t pulled together all of the feedback for the festival but we have already received some excellent feedback from teachers, parents and pupils. One teacher emailed me after the event to say Thank you so much - we all had a fantastic time and learnt loads. Your pupils were a credit to you, showing infinite patience and knowledge. My class want to know when they can have a repeat performance.’ This was from a school 20 miles away, so it has been a fantastic way to build new relationships with other schools/teachers. One parent of one of our student ambassadors spoke to me the next day to tell me that her son had come home so excited by the activities that he had led. Many of our students came and spoke to the scientists that were present that day as well. The Hands on sessions ran alongside booked in Chemistry and CoSpace workshops on the Friday schools only event. This worked really well as it meant that we could control the numbers within the main Hall and Gym. This is something we will be considering for the Saturday Community event next year as computing was something that parents in particular had asked for in the future. The Saturday Community event was a huge success. We had people queuing before 10am ready to come in! We had advertised the event by contacting schools, flyers, programmes, social media and banners in the town so we had hoped that we would attract lots of people. We counted at least 1000 people throughout the day! There was a constant stream of families through the doors. Talking to parents, we found out the families were coming from around a 20 mile radius to visit us. Children that had visited the school the day before enjoyed it so much they brought their parents and siblings to the Saturday event. The mini scientist rooms was extremely popular and many then visited the other rooms and exhibits. We captured some quick evaluation from the day by putting up a feedback board for the children to write on. Everything was very positive with many asking for another festival next year. One parent has already emailed me to say ‘Please can I congratulate you and say a very big thank you for such an exciting, hands on and inspiring science fair. Both  x  and I got a lot out of it! I had preconceptions of being there an hour, however after nearly 2.5 hours, it was lunch that pulled us away. It was really good to see x getting so much out of the fascinating stands, whether they were run by professionals or students or even year 6 pupils ( they did a superb job on explaining dna ! ). The science was not only appropriate to her, but also was interesting to me. Thank you for such a great experience.’ Next months diary will have a more detailed description of our evaluations. Myself and Andy are now planning a series of workshops for the 14th April which our Subject coordinators in the trust will lead with our student ambassadors acting as mentors. This will involve mini sessions of the ‘favourite’ aspects of the festival for cross phase pupils in the trust.

To date – costs charged to Rolls Royce Science budget: £3000 – IPADs, £500 – Telescope,  £85 – ChaOs event, £31 – Science days, £43 Astronomy Evening consumables, £1563 Science Festival Consumables,  equipment and Workshop sessions by the SAW trust   = 5,222

    April Targets: 

·       Nadine to plan and send filming information to Rolls Royce

·       Andy to organise Science Festival Favourites Workshop for cross phase activity day.

·       Run successful robotics afternoon with Barrow primary.

·       Evaluate project so far and plan next years activities with subject coordinators – Meeting on 13th April