In December, we were visited by 23 year five and six pupils as part of our twice-monthly STEM outreach programme. The pupils from Fairfield School took part in chemistry workshops, toured the laboratories and met some of the scientists who work here.
The morning included four sessions. In the first workshop ‘Mixing and Changing Properties’, students had the opportunity to create their own ‘slime’ mixture, while learning about the science involved. The colourful workshop included looking at two different types of reaction that occur: physical and chemical.
In the second session, the children used temperature sensors and thermometers to investigate extreme temperatures. They used dry ice, liquid nitrogen and regular ice, as well as interactive demonstrations about how materials change states.
The third workshop was on polymers. The students discussed plastics and the bonds formed by polymers with volunteers from the Bristol Centre for Functional Nanomaterials (BCFN). They mixed polymers with hot water to create malleable plastic and formed it into shapes. They were also given some to take with them to continue their learning at home.
The students also took a tour of the working laboratories and met some of the scientists who work in the building. Being exposed to different career options is a key part of widening children’s aspirations and many of the children who have attended the outreach days have since expressed a desire to become a scientist when they are older.
The sessions are designed to contribute to objectives from the national curriculum. This month covered year 5’s ‘Properties and Changes of Materials’ and upper Key Stage 2 ‘Working Scientifically’ – (taking measurements, using a range of scientific equipment with increasing accuracy and precision, taking repeat readings when appropriate).
All of our outreach sessions include fully funded transport for the schools, making the day out cost-neutral. Charlie Proctor, our Operations and Outreach Manager organises the programmes. With a background in primary school teaching, Charlie ensures all workshops are age-appropriate, relevant to the national curriculum and provide learners with an additional flare to their learning that teachers may not be able to deliver in the classroom.
For more information on our work with schools, visit our Outreach page.