Teachers across the UK are sending in their applications for the Digital Schoolhouse programme, a pioneering initiative that has been proven to improve the quality of teaching, learning and pupil attainment for Computing. The programme was recognised in the Royal Society report Shut Down or Restart and the House of Lords’ Digital Skills Select Committee report, and also won a TES Award for its innovative approach to improving computing education.
This June will see the third annual STEMtech Conference and Showcase take place at the Telford International Centre in Shropshire. A must for school leaders looking to create, sustain and build engagement in STEM, the event will be held around the theme of ‘Skilled for Success’. Both Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th June will see headteachers, principals, subject leaders, business managers, governors and more head to the Centre for a variety of seminars and workshops. Four events in one, tickets for the STEMtech Conference and Showcase are priced from £85 + VAT.
Pupils of Walton School in Stafford have been some of the first to acquire their seeds from space, as part of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) / UK Space Agency co-organised Rocket Science project. The seeds were in space for six months with British astronaut Major Tim Peake, and were returned to Earth in March by the former commander of the space station, Scott Kelly. The aim of the project is to compare the seeds with ones that have not been in space, in order to study the horticultural possibilities available to astronauts.
Seven female STEM-studiers from Rushcliffe School in Nottinghamshire recently undertook a trip to a German eco village which generates 500% more energy than it requires. The two-week study trip to Wildpoldsried in Bavaria was organised by Sasie, a Nottingham-based renewable energy company, in a bid to promote female talent in engineering and science and get more young women into STEM-oriented careers.
Games trade body Ukie are this week showcasing their range of computational thinking workshops run through the Digital Schoolhouse programme at The Big Bang Fair, the UK’s largest celebration of STEM subjects, from Wednesday 16th March to Saturday 19th March. The Big Bang Fair is being held at the Birmingham NEC Arena, and The Digital Schoolhouse can be found at stand #409. The activity on the Digital Schoolhouse stand will include a full programme of inspirational speakers and interactive workshops over the four days of the Fair.
On Monday 14th March, three students from Toot Hill School in Bingham, Nottinghamshire won the BP Ultimate STEM Challenge competition at the Science Museum in London. For the second consecutive year, BP, STEMNET and the Science Museum launched the nationwide schools competition, which challenges 11-14 year-old students to test their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills by tackling real-world energy problems.
Rocket seeds that will be grown as part of Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and UK Space Agency educational initiative, Rocket Science, have returned from the International Space Station (ISS). Half a million UK pupils have taken part in the project. The 2kg of seeds were flown to the International Space Station (ISS) in September 2015, where they have been orbiting the Earth at a speed of 17,000mph.
Encouraging students to take an interest in Science, technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects can often be a challenge. This is especially true when teaching is based around workbooks and theory; when students are unable to find a link between what they are being taught, the learning environment they are in and their own interests, they are more likely to disengage. With the ever-increasing technological advancements, it’s not surprising that the next generation of students are likely to enter the working world, looking for jobs that don’t even exist now. Therefore, we must strive to inspire children from a young age, in order to unveil talent and boost engagement.
Samsung have launched a companion app for the BBC micro:bit. Available via Google Play, the resource will connect the BBC micro:bit to smartphones and tablets, allowing young people to code on the go. By being introduced to connected technology and the Internet of Things, pupils will be able to control their smartphones or tablets via the micro:bit and come up with fun applications, such as building their own ‘selfie’ remote controller. Samsung has also developed micro:bit projects for parents and teachers.
In my previous article for Innovate My School, I talked enthusiastically about the huge benefits that technology such as cloud computing can bring to schools, provided that it’s used effectively to meet real and measurable needs. From a budgetary standpoint, schools can achieve better value for money and improved functionality through tools like virtual learning environments. Innovative pedagogical models such as the flipped classroom are improving teaching and learning even from Primary age. It’s a brave new world for technology in schools, and I’m delighted to see educators reaping the benefits.