What a year it’s been – our lives have been turned upside down and spun around. We cannot help but worry for learners around the world. With lockdowns (yes, plural), school closures (although they never really ‘closed’, did they?) and constant change, 2020 can certainly be described as challenging. But, despite this, we absolutely do not want learners’ education to suffer – and we are pretty sure you feel the same.
Andrew Duffey, Head of Design Technology & Engineering and Computing at The Henrietta Barnett School for girls, talks about how VEX Robotics is preparing students for their future careers and the extraordinary demand for students to join the school robotics club.
Andrew has incorporated VEX IQ into the classroom using the free online curriculum, developed to meet national academic standards, to teach Year 8 pupils the key elements of STEM through robotics. He credits the practical and theoretical aspects of VEX as pivotal factors to ensuring students are engaged, as well as thinking creatively and critically throughout lessons.
“Whether it’s building or designing a robot or using the free programming software exploring coding languages where the transition to C++ is seamless, the girls’ knowledge of STEM is increasing every day," said Andrew. "I had a colleague at the school approach me about the benefits it has had on the pupils in his science class. As VEX teaches pupils about gears, linkages and ratios, they’re already familiar with lots of the theories introduced in Physics which their classmates are learning for the first time.”
Andrew’s implementation of VEX goes beyond the classroom. His school's teams engineer robots to take part in VEX competitions, which take place on a regional, national and international scale.
During the most recent VEX UK National Championships, which take place annually at Telford’s International Centre, The Henrietta Barnett School teams in attendance featured prominently during the awards ceremony, where accolades for the teams ranged from the Judges Award, to the Excellence Award, the top overall honour in the VEX competition. Andrew supports VEX events throughout the year and offers his support to local schools beginning their own journey with VEX was unanimously voted ‘Volunteer of the Year’ during the ceremony.
The measure of VEX Robotics’ success at HBS is evidenced by the sheer number of students attending the robotics club lead by Andrew and his colleague Sean Kelly, as well the rising number of students eager to get involved.
“We could easily treble the number of girls attending robotics club. If anything, that’s underestimating how many girls are keen to join, but unfortunately, we just don’t have the space for it. They have students queuing up at the door, sitting on the floor and even watching through the windows in awe of the robots being created by the teams. It’s just so wonderful to see them so excited by robotics!”
Not only is Andrew helping to capture the interest and imagination of girls through robotics, but he is helping to create an environment with phenomenal potential for moving into STEM careers. Since using VEX Robotics as a teaching tool four years ago, several girls from the school have gone on to study engineering courses that combine elements of robotics at university, including one at Oxford.
Visit the VEX website to learn more.
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Three students from Bredon Hill Academy in Evesham, Worcestershire, won the BP Ultimate STEM Challenge at an event today at the Science Museum in London. The three girls – Amelie, Cathryn and Hattie – were praised by the judges for the way they took inspiration from flying animals to find solutions to an engineering design challenge.
The BLOODHOUND Project have announced the launch of Race for the Line’s second season. Working closely with Microsoft Education and the British Army, the Race for the Line Rocket Car Competition will be rolled out to 4,000 schools across the UK, reaching an estimated 112,000 students. Billed as the world’s largest STEM initiative, the competition will see 150 STEM school events held per year. Schools and youth groups must register by 31st October to receive their free rocket car kits.
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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.
History resource champions Squaducation have launched a competition aimed at inspiring the historians of the future. My EPIC Era 2016 is a new History competition for schools and pupils throughout the UK, and is being spearheaded by veteran soldier, actor and educator Kevin Hicks. Pupils are being asked to name their favourite era in history and tell the competition judges all about it. Their entries can be written, drawn, crafted, performed or filmed. My EPIC Era 2016 will be open for entries until 31st March 2016.
On 29th February, over a thousand schools across the globe will race to unravel a real-life mystery that has long captivated the art world. Education startup Forensic Outreach and New York-based edu-retailer Ward’s Science have prepared a worldwide STEAM (Science, technology, engineering, Art and Mathematics) competition inspired by the 2011 hunt for the lost Leonardo da Vinci painting The Battle of Anghiari. The competition involves three subject-specific challenges: ‘cryptanalysis’, ‘geometry and probability’ and ‘materials science’.
The very first Innovate My School Twitter competition has been launched, and will see one UK school receive a £150 voucher for stationary and classroom supplies vendors Viking. All teachers and school staff need to do is let us know what they’d do with these supplies via tweet to be in with a chance at winning. Entrants should ensure that they’re following us, because the winner will be notified by Twitter DM!
BP has launched the second Ultimate STEM Challenge, a competition in partnership with the Science Museum and STEMNET. This year, students aged 11-14 across the UK are being challenged to use their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills to develop energy efficient solutions to real-world challenges. The celebratory final event will take place in March at the Science Museum in London, and all entries must be uploaded on the BP Educational Service (BPES) website by 15th January 2016.