Explosive fun at STEM Club

Last Thursday saw the last STEM Club session of the term and the last session for year 3 and 4. Following a recent visit from chemist, Mr Carey, who showed some classes haw to test the ph value of acids and alkalis, we investigated the mixing of an alkali with an acid to see what would happen. We used every day household products which were vinegar (acid) and bicarbonate of soda (alkali). The groups had to work out the best combinations of liquids to create a chemical reaction that resulted in lots of fizzing and foaming. A further investigation was to secure a rubber glove to the top of their bottle that had the bicarbonate of soda in it. They tipped the glove upright to transfer the bicarbonate of soda into the bottle containing vinegar below. They discovered that mixing the two chemicals produced a gas which inflated the rubber glove! The children loved this investigation and it was great to end the term with an investigative science experiment.

STEM Summit success

Today several pupils from our school including two of our STEM Ambassadors represented us at the STEM environmental summit at Hilderthorpe School. There were a number of local schools there who had all been working really hard on their pledge to improve their local environment and increase their commitment to recycling within school. In addition, pupils in year 4 in each school had been set the challenge of producing a wind turbine that would spin the fastest over 15 seconds and a further challenge for the wind turbine that could lift the heaviest load. We were extremely excited to learn that we won the award for the best Wind Turbine Design and also the award for the greatest impact for the environment. We felt very proud of ourselves. The children delivered their presentation with confidence and enthusiasm and represented our school so well. They were able to talk about all of the recent environmental initiatives that we have put into place such as tree planting and improving the Wildlife Garden.

Here are some of our pupils who attended the event and their thoughts on the morning.

We watched a video recording of a lady called Jenny who is a wind turbine engineer. She answered questions that had been put to her by Hilderthorpe School and our school. We learnt that last year 25% of our electrical power was provided by wind turbines. Jenny has to solve problems when things go wrong with the wind turbines and she said that her love of maths at school has certainly helped with this.

We talked about our re-love reuse sale and we showed the other schools our wind turbines. I loved it when we came 1st place, we were all so happy.

British Science Week 2023

Well what an amazing week we had! Apologies for the extremely long post but there is so much to write about! There were so many science and STEM based activities taking place across the school and such a buzz as pupils were enthused in their learning. Thank-you to all, pupils, staff and families that supported British Science Week as you all contributed to making it an outstanding success.

I will start with the three home-school link events that were set. The pop-up science pocket money shop was an incredible success and had lots of visitors every night after school. Many thanks particularly to the STEM Ambassador pupils who stayed behind after school to help run this event. They also got some maths practice at handling money and giving change! The profit raised from the event will be used to further enhance science learning within school and provide needed resources for the after-school STEM Club. We hope to run a similar event in the Summer term as we were so pleased with how it was supported.

The second challenge was to build a balloon powered vehicle and many of you got into the spirit of this one with lots of creative designs. The class winners Jack, Thea, Bethany, Chloe and Holly, and also Katy demonstrated their vehicles in a ‘race-off’ in a whole-school assembly with Katy being victorious. Well done to all who entered.

The final home-school link activity was to email in a science related ‘selfie’ photo to the school office. We had some fantastic entries and the overall winner was Thea, with an excellent demonstration of light reflection. You can see the science selfies below.

Mr Carey, a chemist who is a parent of ours, visited two classes this week to introduce them to the pharmaceutical company that he works for and a career as a chemist. He carried out an investigation with the pupils to test the ph value of a range of different household items and the children very much enjoyed getting involved by predicting if a liquid was an acid or an alkali and then dipping the test strips in the liquid to see what colour they would turn. Also looking at different STEM careers were class 3 and 4 who considered what sort of STEM related job they might like to do in the future and what skills they might need to do so.

Our whole-school challenge was to design a wind turbine that would function for 15 minutes. This was based on the true story of William Kamkwamba, a teenager from a poor family in Malawi who taught himself about wind power and built a wind turbine from scrap materials to provide power in his home and village. William went on to become an engineer after being given the opportunity to study around the world. Once again we had some very innovative and creative designs from all of the classes. The children very much enjoyed designing them and working collaboratively to make them.

Key Stage One had the chance to experience a virtual live lesson delivered by Farm Live! linking tractors to space, This was a very interactive presentation followed up with some work which complemented the unit they have been studying in science on materials.

Another activity that was enjoyed by all the classes was the opportunity to use the microscope set that was on loan from the Royal Microscopial Society. The children were amazed at how different everyday objects looked when they were viewed close up.

Around the school, there were many investigations being undertaken, developing the children’s skills in working scientifically. Foundation Stage investigated what would happen if they put a gummy bear sweet into a beaker of water. There was some great discussion about this and they are definitely scientists in the making! Class 1 carried out an excellent investigation into floating and sinking and recorded their predictions and results in a table. Meanwhile class 2 were investigating the best material to make a waterproof coat or umbrella for teddy and they too recorded their predictions and results in a table.

Finally we extended an open invitation to the school community to help us plant trees and improve the Wildlife garden. As this took place on a Saturday, we knew that some people would have other commitments but we were very lucky in the amount of support that was offered. We planted wild cherry, silver birch and rowan trees that we had successfully applied to receive from the Woodland Trust. In addition, we received a mixture of ten crab apple and hazel trees from Quick and Clarke Hornsea who had pledged to donate them under the Queen’s Green Canopy Scheme. We were also able to install three bird boxes, a number of bird feeders, a bird bath, a bird table and a ‘toad abode’ thanks to our successful bid for funding through Learning Through Landscapes. We sprinkled lots of wild flower seeds, planted bulbs and replenished the old large-scale bug hotel to complement the new bug hotel kindly provided by JP Developers Ltd just a couple of weeks ago. The wildlife garden is looking amazing and will hopefully attract lots of birds, bug and hedgehogs and who knows what else? We are already visited by squirrels quite regularly and there are newts on the pond. The children worked hard all morning and they really are the environmental guardians of the future. We look forward to taking our learning outdoors during the warmer months and fully utilising the Wildlife Garden, especially as we now also have a purpose made tarpaulin and floor carpet to provide a den or shelter.

It really was a fantastic week and I really look forward to seeing what science learning looks like across the school over the rest of the school year. After that I will be planning British Science week 2024!

The best bug hotel in town

On Tuesday 7th March we had a visit from Russell who works for JP developers Ltd. At the STEM environmental summit that some of our pupils attended in the Autumn term, Russell had offered to supply materials for a bug hotel on receipt of detailed, labelled pupil sketches outlining what they wanted. Our STEM Ambassadors emailed our sketches to him and he was delighted to to come and bring the materials. Not only that, he offered to help the pupils build their bug hotel so they all spent a pleasant afternoon in the Wildlife Garden doing just that. Here are the amazing results.

We look forward to complementing this work when we plant our trees that we have received from the Woodland Trust later this month and also install the toad abode, bird nesting boxes, wildlife camera, bird bath and bird feeders that we obtained through our grant from Learning through Landscapes.

Building Bridges

This week at STEM Club we had another engineering challenge. We looked at the work of the engineer Emily Roebling. Then the pupils divided into three teams, each led by a STEM Ambassador. Each team had newspaper sheets, paper clips and card and they had to work collaboratively to build a bridge capable of supporting a 10g, 50g and 100g weight. All pupils rose to the challenge but we did have a clear winner who had made tubular supports for their bridge.

We are engineers!

This week we looked at the work of the engineer Gustave Eiffel. We discussed who had visited or been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. We looked at its construction and marvelled at this feat of engineering that was constructed in the 1800’s without the aid of modern technology or up to the minute CAD technology. The pupils were really curious as to how people get to the top and were amazed to discover that there are lifts running up the inside of the framework. We discussed how the base of the tower was shaped for the best stability.

Following that, the pupils split into two teams and were tasked with designing and building their own tower. One team had spaghetti and marshmallows and one team had cocktail sticks and midget gems. They worked really co-operatively to make a stable structure and all of them participated enthusiastically in the task under the watchful eye of the STEM ambassadors.
It was really hard to judge an overall winner as the ‘spaghetti’ team had the tallest tower and the ‘cocktail stick’ team had the most stable, so stickers were given to all and they got to eat the left-over marshmallows and midget gems!
Jack said ‘triangles and pyramids are always strong and are nearly unbreakable’. This appeared to be true as they demonstrated throwing the pyramid part of their structure around the hall and it held together really well.

British Science Week home-school challenges

We are really looking forward to British Science week and each class has planned some exciting activities to really engage and enthuse the children. All classes will have a session using the microscopes that are on loan from the Royal Microscopial Society. Each class will also take part in the STEM Wind Turbine Challenge that has been devised by our science cluster school Hilderthorpe Primary. Some classes will be having a science visitor and Key Stage One will be taking part in a Farm Live! lesson online about tractors and space! All classes will have a hall slot to test and race their balloon powered vehicles so the more children and families that take up the challenge the better! Don’t forget we will be running our pop-up science shop after-school each day from Monday 13th March to Friday 17th March as stocks permit. Items will be priced from 50p to £2.00 and all profits raised will go to school funds to provide for future science related activities. Please see below for how else you can get involved in British Science Week. We would love as many families as possible to join in, good luck! Please do come and ask me (Mrs Platten) if you have any questions.

Take a science selfie

This can be just of you or with lots of different family members as long as everyone is happy to have their photo published in our school newsletter. Anything ‘sciency’ goes so use your imagination. Get outside and take nature photos, go on a scavenger or mini-beast hunt, create a nature collage, search for fossils or interesting rocks and stones at the beach, read a science related book (we have lots on the school virtual library), investigate different materials, study the weather or seasons, make a set of string telephones, make a musical instrument, do some shadow drawing, investigate freezing and melting, the list goes on. Here’s a great site for some extra inspiration.


When you have taken your selfie, ask an adult to email it to brands@eastriding.gov.uk by Monday 20th March and we will compile all of the entries into a science week newsletter special and we will pick an overall winner for a small prize and everyone who enters will get a certificate.

Create a balloon powered vehicle

Our year 5/6 pupils that attended after-school STEM Club in the Autumn term were the pioneers for constructing balloon powered cars and our STEM Ambassador pupils decided that it would be a great home-school challenge for British Science Week. If you want to participate you will be given a balloon, straw and elastic band and then it will be up to you to create your vehicle – preferably from recycled materials. You could use cereal packets or small boxes for the body of the vehicle and milk bottle tops for the wheels. You will also need to consider axles for your wheels. Then you can decorate your vehicle however you would like. Each class will have a time allocated during science week (your class teacher will let you know when this is but get your vehicle ready for Monday 13 March) for a class race-off. the winner form each class will take part in a grand final whole-school race off on Friday 17th March. There will be a certificate for all participants. Don’t worry, we will have spare balloons, straws and elastic bands just in case! Get thinking about your ideas now so that you are ready to take part. Here are some photos from STEM Club with their balloon powered vehicles and also a few other ideas but be as creative as you can!

The floor is lava!

Ok well perhaps not the floor, but the classroom was certainly full of lava lamps that were created by STEM Club tonight. The pupils loved measuring the correct amounts of water and oil and choosing the food colouring to add to their lamp but they were in awe when the Alka Seltzer tablets were added to release the gas and really make their lamps bubble. We stood each bottle in turn over a mobile phone torch which really illuminated the contents of the bottle so they pupils could see the gas bubbles rising. There was lots of opportunity for discussion on why the oil floated on top of the water, where the bubbles came from and what the science was behind the magic. The pupils were thrilled to take home their lava lamps with an extra fizzy tablet so they could show everyone at home what they had been learning.

key Stage One trip to Magna Science Museum

Last Thursday, Key Stage One went on their first ever school trip and they were so excited about it! We were visiting Magna science museum to link to our current programme of work in science which is materials. More than that though, we wanted to give the children a hands-on interactive experience and a taste of learning outside of the classroom. Covid put a temporary halt to many of our trips and these pupils in particular have not the opportunity to experience a school trip. Everything from the coach journey, to eating a packed lunch together, to walking around and exploring was met with such enthusiasm. There were a number of other schools there on the day but I can safely say that our pupils were true ambassadors for Brandesburton Primary School and behaviour was exemplary. So many questions were asked, so many excited faces were seen that it may it a pleasure for all the adults that accompanied us on our trip.

The slime making workshop was an instant hit. The children listened really carefully to the member of Magna staff who talked to them about how to make their slime and he even performed a magic trick for them before he explained the science behind it! The children were careful with their measuring and enjoyed adding brightly coloured paint to their mixture too.

We also visited the fire, earth and water pavillions (air was closed) and the children got to witness a fire tornado which was really impressive and the heat from it could really be felt. In the earth pavillion, the children had the opportunity to role-play exploding a rock quarry, move boulders around in wheel barrows, simulate a rock crusher and drive a digger as well as listen to a Bob the Builder story. There was a buzz of activity as they push buttons and levers and tried out all of the interactive exhibits. In the water pavillion, the children could fire water cannons, float boats, make water move by lifting levers, feel an ice wall and measure their weight in litres of water. They also learnt that water is a precious resource and how many litres of water it takes to make a mobile phone and a pair of jeans.

After a very busy day, we made our way back to Brandesburton. We have to say a big thank-you to the PTFA who subsidised the trip by £10 per pupil as the cost of hiring a coach is extremely expensive and runs to many hundreds of pounds. We all think the day was well worth it and hope it won’t be too long before we can undertake further adventures outside of the classroom.

In the middle of a chain reaction

Tonight the pupils learnt about chain reactions and the concept behind Rube Goldberg machines. The idea came from cartoonist Rube Goldberg who drew and designed complicated, comical ways of achieving everyday tasks. We watched some examples on Youtube which fascinated the children then they were let loose in the hall with a range of pipes, tubes and bottles and some dominoes. Their task was to transport a table tennis ball along a series of obstacles with the aim of knocking something over at the end of it. In small teams they set to it and they worked really enthusiastically and co-operatively ensuring all members of their team were engaged. They really did come up with some innovative designs and I am glad that I left the judging to the STEM ambassadors! Lara, Georgina and Freddie were on hand to support each team and give positive feedback to both teams before picking their winning team by a 2-1 majority.

Look out for a message on this week’s newsletter from the STEM ambassadors as they need your help!