You’ve been slimed!

This week was the final week of the year 3 and year 4 STEM Club so we finished with a firm favourite – slime making! The children had great fun investigating the best recipe for slime by combining different amounts of PVA glue, bicarbonate of soda and saline solution. Some pupils also experimented with adding shaving foam and glitter to their recipes. It was a great way to end the term and the children’s have really benefitted from participating in science enrichment opportunities.

Up up and away!

This week our year three and four STEM Club members enjoyed investigating aerodynamics. They had the opportunity to make a hoop glider, a traditional glider and a helicopter spinner. They went into the hall to investigate which flew the best. With the helicopter spinners, they were also tasked with investigating what happened if more weight (in the form of paper clips) was added to the spinner. Would it spin faster or slower? Would it spin at all? Would it reach the ground quicker? This was their favourite investigation of the session with a mad scramble to see how many paperclips they could actually add to one spinner! It was great to see them testing out their predictions.

A piece of the (capillary) action

Tonight saw the first session of the year 3/4 STEM Club. It was lovely to see both some new faces and some returning pupils who attended the club last year in either year 2 or year 3.
Tonight were investigating the effects of water surface tension and capillary action.
First of all, everyone cut out and coloured their pond skater template which was a nice relaxing bit of artwork before we got to the science bit. Then the pupils smeared butter over their pond skater’s feet to make them slightly waterproof. When they carefully placed them on the surface of the bowl of water, the pond skaters didn’t sink. They were able to use a straw to move their pond skater round the bowl. They discovered that the pond skaters were not floating – the scientific concept was that surface tension had been created between the pond skater and the water. This is exactly what would happen in real life too.
Secondly, the pupils cut out two flower templates, one slightly smaller than the other. They folded the petals in on the smaller flower and then placed it inside the bigger flower. Once again they folded the petals of the larger flower over. When they carefully placed the flower on the water, the petals of the larger flower opened up very quickly, followed by the petals on the small flower. This was the result of capillary action. The water moves through the very tiny gaps in the fibres of the paper template by capillary action. When the water soaks the paper, the paper swells causing the petals to open up. The pupils all had great fun investigating these scientific concepts.
In addition, this term’s STEM Club attendees, plus our year 6 STEM Club ambassadors, are forming the judging panel for the Royal Society’s Young Peoples Book Prize. Each year the Royal Society run this competition and they shortlist six books that are STEM related and suitable for primary school aged children. They then invite schools to apply to be on the judging panel to vote for their favourite book based on interest, ease of reading, look and feel and inspiration. This is the third year that Brandesburton Primary School have been successfully selected to form a judging panel and we are excited to review all six shortlisted books and make our final recommendation to the Royal Society in a couple of weeks time.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

This week saw the final session of the y5/6 STEM Club block. The pupils have completed eight activities towards their Crest Award and will be receiving a certificate for their hard work. Tonight the pupils were tasked with Investigating how to protect Humpty when he falls off the wall. The pupils worked in pairs and had 20 tokens to ‘buy’ suitable materials to make their protective layer for Humpty. We revisited the properties of materials from previous learning in the science curriculum and the pupils debated the merits of using cotton wool, foil, paper roll, bubble wrap or lolly sticks. The pupils could only purchase certain amounts of each material. In order to ensure a fair test, all material except the lolly sticks were the same size.

After the pupils had made their choices and arrange their protective layer around Humpty, (an unboiled egg), they popped Humpty into a Ziplock bag just in CASE their protective designs weren’t as successful as they hoped. In the hall, the pupils dropped their bags from shoulder height. Unfortunately all of the Humpties cracked on the first attempt. They were then allowed a second attempt and they were allowed to use as much of the remaining materials as they wanted to. Not very scientific this time, but it was certainly fun. This time two out of the three Humpties survived!

The floor is lava!

Ok well not the floor but the classroom was certainly well lit by the amazing lava lamps created during this week’s STEM Club. Our year 5/6 pupils enjoyed observing what happened when they tried to combine oil and water. They then added some drops of food colouring and an Alka Seltzer tablet which provided the citric acid magic! The pupils were fascinated watching the bubbles of gas recreating the effect of a real lava lamp. This was even more effective when we turned the lights out and put an I-phone under the bottle to act as a torch.

Who can make the stretchiest slime?

Tonight our year 5 and 6 pupils were investigating ratio and proportion for slime mixtures. Rather than using a precise recipe that the year 3s and 4s had used last year, this group were given the basic ingredients and then investigated the best combinations for themselves. All of them chose to add shaving foam to the ingredients they were given and some added glitter – but that was just for aesthetic effect, it didn’t make the slime any stretchier. The pupils did find that if the slime was too sticky or didn’t come together properly, adding more saline solution helped to solve the problem.

Our STEM Club pupils have now completed six challenges towards their Crest Award with two more to go before we finish for Christmas. They will then be able to look forward to receiving their well deserved certificates and badges early in the Spring term

Let’s go fly a kite!

As the pupils enjoyed the design task with the helicopters so much last week, I set them another design challenge tonight. The pupils were given a range of materials and were asked to design a kite which would fly the best. As the weather is unpredictable at this time of year, we had a large electric fan to test their designs. Great thought went into testing card, cellophane, paper and tissue paper to see what would be the best material. The pupils also thought about tail length and used aluminum foil to add weights to it.

Once again the pupils enjoyed having a design task and working on elementary engineering skills which will help them focus on potential STEM career choices in the future,

Whirling and twirling

This week our STEM Club session centred around investigating helicopter spinners and altering variables in an experiment,

The pupils were given a template for a simple paper spinner designed to reflect the action of helicopter rotor blades. Once they had mastered cutting and folding this initial template and tested it, they were able to change the variables and test the efficiency of the spin. The pupils had a choice of different size templates to see whether a smaller spinner or a larger spinner would spin best. They also had a choice of different types of paper and card to use for their templates. Finally they added weight to their spinner by varying the number of paper clips they added to the spinner to see if this affected the quality of spin.

All of the pupils were really engaged with the task and were quite creative in different designs that they wanted to try. There was lots of great scientific discussion about the effect of forces and the pupils enjoyed modifying their designs to try and improve them.

Are our fingerprints unique?

At STEM Club this week we carried out two activities. Firstly we reviewed the different glues we made last week to determine which was the strongest and which would wash off clothing most easily. Having concluded which of our samples functioned the best, we turned to this week’s challenge.

We were investigating whether or not fingerprints are individual enough to be able to use them as a digital register or for example to withdraw books from a school library. The pupils had white and black card, cocoa powder, flour, sellotape and dusting brushes. They rolled their thumb in their choice of powder and transferred their print to sellotape and then onto card. It took a few goes to get clear prints.

Once they had done that, the pupils examined their prints against a set of fingerprint patterns to establish if they had arches, loops or whorls. They then compared all of their prints together to see if they were different to each other, Safe to say that the fingerprints of our STEM Club pupils are definitely individually unique!

A sticky problem

Tonight we were investigating different ingredients for making glue (child friendly). The pupils had 3 different sets of ingredients to make their different glues from. When they had made them, they tested them for strength, washability and waterproof properties. The pupils used their glue samples to stick two pieces of cardboard together to test for strength. Next they used each sample to stick two lolly sticks together. When the glue has dried, the sticks will be put in a bowl of warm water to test f the sticks stay together which would suggest the glue is waterproof. The final experiment was to coat small pieces of fabric with each glue sample. When these are dry, the pupils will use warm soapy water to see if the glue comes off. We will complete our results and conclusions next week.

As you can see from the photos, it really was a sticky problem!