Rolls-Royce Schools Prize for Science and Technology

March onwards Diary

When the school went into lockdown in March, I initially had reduced teaching responsibilities and was therefore given time to work on our Rolls-Royce project.  Mrs Overton was unable to support the project as much during this time due to Covid 19 responsibilities but Miss Cole was able to support me by making some resources at home and Mrs Swinson wrote the questions to go on our speech bubbles in the woods.  Therefore, this diary is a reflection on what I was able to achieve during these strange times.  My main obstacle was getting hold of the resources and equipment needed as so many stores were closed or offering limited stock. Below is an update on each station.

Properties of rocks

This station is now finished and ready to use.  I have made a table in the woods which four children can use at the same time to sort, classify, identify and test rocks.  The rocks have been hidden in a sandpit and the children need to dig them up and then move to the table to find out more about the rock they have found. I have even hidden a few geodes in the sandpit, which the children can smash open to discover the crystals inside.  My hope is that this station will really engage the children’s interest in rocks and help them learn more about the properties of rocks.  I will be changing the rocks over time so new discoveries can be made each time a child returns to the station.

Plant and minibeast identification

This station is also finished and the boards are ready to be hung up and used in September.  Children will be able to identify plants, birds and minibeasts found on the field and playground during break times and in the woods during Forest Schools.  The ID guides also have questions on them to encourage the children to think further about where particular species are found and why.

 

I have also created 6 bags of minibeast hunting kits and 6 bags of pond dipping kits which can be used by teachers who want to take their whole class out looking for minibeasts.  The minibeast hunt kits will also be available for independent use by children during Forest Schools sessions.

Maths investigation

These stations will be benches on the field where children can sit and play maths games.  We have bought two towers of Hanoi, a four person shut-the-box, and a maths version of jenga.  In addition to this, we have an inflatable target to hang in the woods which is a maths game involving throwing sticky darts to reach a particular mathematic goal.

Geometry

Broom handle have been cut to various sizes so that children can work in groups to build 2D and 3D shapes.  We have also made labels so that the children can label the particular properties of their shapes.  This resource can be used in active maths lessons where teachers can create games to challenge the children.  For example, one group might create a list of properties and challenge another group to make a shape which fits the criteria.

Sound

This is another finished station.  It proved to be an interesting challenge to construct the station whilst also socially distancing! Children will be able to experiment with how sound is made and how to vary the volume and pitch of a note.  The station consists of chime bars made of different lengths and different materials, bell lyres made of different sized metal bowls, tuned wakkaphones made of drainpipes, a steel drum and boom whackers.

  

Gears

I have bought a set of giant polydron which the children can play with freely to build objects and vehicles of their choice.  It contains lots of gears so the children can discover how to construct working models using gears effectively.

 Forces

A set of stands and pipes has been ordered so that the children can create their own systems where water flows from one pipe to the next and eventually into a bucket to collect it.  I have purchased a water pump so that the water can then be pumped back to the start again and reused.  I hope to develop this station further once it is set up and I can see how the children are using it.  Our volunteer grandparents have also built us an onager catapult which ties in nicely with both our science work on forces and the Year 3s study of the Romans.  The children will get to explore how a catapult works and how to get it to fire further or more accurately.  They will also get to make their own slingslots and see who can shoot a piece of paper the furthest distance.

Human body

I really enjoyed using my pyrography pen to burn an outline of a human skeleton into a table in the woods.  This skeleton perfectly matches the bones buried in the sandpit so that when the children dig up the bones they can find where on the body they belong.  They can then label each bone in order to learn their names.  I have also purchased a robotic hand so that the children can see how bones and muscles work together to make movements.  I have nearly finished a working model of an arm which will be added to the table as well.  Children will be able to try different materials such as elastic or string to connect the bones in the arm and discover which material is most like our muscles.

Materials

This station is located in a courtyard area within the school. I have constructed a large wooden frame and attached different materials such as wood, metal and fabric.  Children will be able to use this wall in science lessons to learn the names and the properties of different materials.  There are labels available to add to the wall. I have also made giant wooden letters that spell out the word ‘materials’ which will be covered with different objects made of various materials. Teachers can give these letters out to groups in order to initiate discussions on why objects are made of certain materials rather than others.  I am planning on also adding a rusting area to this display so that children can watch over time how certain metals rust and others don’t.

 

Plants

The wildflower plugs were planted by key worker children around our apple trees and flowered beautifully.  Hopefully, they will set seed and flower every year so that children can use them to identify and name plants and to compare different areas of our school grounds.

We are planning on giving plants and seeds to every class this year so that they can see how they grow over the whole year.  It seems particularly important to do this as most year groups missed their plants topic in science this year due to Covid 19.

 

Light

Our volunteer grandparents at school are currently building me some giant periscopes to be used in the woods.  I have also purchased a vertical and a horizontal sun dial which I will put up in an appropriate place.

Other developments

An extra station that I have introduced is focused on bridge building.  I have made a life sized Da Vinci self supporting bridge that the children can construct and walk over.  I am also hoping to make other styles of bridges that they can also build independently.  Teachers can teach how these bridges work in lessons and let the children make miniature versions.  They can then come out a build a large one as a team.

Uncompleted stations that I would still like to work on over the coming months are classification, weather, life cycles, statistics, Earth and space, decomposition, a horizontal pulley, a marble run, something solar powered and a nature table. I am unsure how much time I will have over the Autumn term to complete these ideas, but I have £2,000 left in the budget so should be able to achieve them all over time.

The winning logo for the stations was chosen as an amalgamation of two entries that we couldn’t choose between.  Sam put the two together to create this final design.  Well done to Olivia Winton and Mia Cutler who entered the winning designs.

 

 Obviously, our project has not progressed in quite the way we intended as the children were meant to make more of the stations themselves and get to use them over the year as more were introduced.  The stations that had been completed proved to be extremely popular and were definitely increasing the children’s love of science. The children who have been attending school have helped with tasks where it could be done safely and have been excited to see the project developing.  Come September, Forest Schools will commence

again and I can’t wait to see the children’s reaction to the new stations.  Teachers have spent more time outdoors than usual and have commented on how great our woodland area is.  This should mean it won’t be difficult to persuade them to bring more of their learning outdoors and make use of the stations relating to their year group.  We are planning on having a whole school celebration of the project where every class will come outside and take part in an investigation using one or more of the stations. This will be a proud moment for me as this project has been a huge part of my life this year (and will be for years to come).

Expenses Update

Total Awarded – £6000

Money remaining 20/02/2020 – £4,901.54

Date Purchases Cost
11.02.20 Wooden speech bubbles £137.50
12.02.20 Data loggers £635.00
03.03.20 Sand and compost £117.09
17.03.20 Drainpipes, plywood £134.26
07.05.20 Broom handles, marine ply, wood £208.70
13.05.20 Sandpits £116.67
26.05.20 Materials for feely wall, saw, varnish £163.29
23.06.20 Water pump and stand £114.99
24.06.20 Plant pots £21.13
25.06.20 ID guides £52.29
25.05.20 Wooden maths games £78.62
25.06.20 Sundials £41.89
25.05.20 Drainpipes £41.50
27.06.20 Hose pipe £165.01
27.06.20 Steel drum, boomwhackers £221.49
29.06.20 Giant polydron £302.43
01.07.20 Polydron bag £15.59
01.07.20 Pod dipping equipment £220.00
Total expenses   £2,787.43
Money remaining   £2,114.11

 

February Diary

Mrs Harrison

Our music area is progressing well and we now have three octaves of chime bars and a set of pagoda bells.  Our next project is to make a giant wakkaphone out of drainpipes.  The purpose of this area is for children to investigate sound.  They will be able to explore how the length, thickness and material of pipes affects their pitch as well as how to make sounds louder or quieter.  Year 4 children will also use this area to carry out science investigations involving pitch.

We have also started building our rocks investigation station.  This comprises of a large sandpit filled with various rocks, fossils and crystals.  Children will be archaeologists and use trowels and brushes to uncover the treasures and then try to identify them.  There will be a table containing identification guides in order to name each find and then an area where they can be tested to discover how hard they are, if they are porous and how they were formed.  Using this information, children will be able to classify them into groups of their own choice using an interactive Carroll diagram.

Miss Cole

The wildflower seeds planted by the children are growing well.  When they are large enough (and the weather improves) they will be planted around our apple trees to create a wildflower meadow.  The children are currently learning what plants need in order to grow healthily.  Once the meadow is complete, it will be used by classes learning the names of common plants as well as by those investigating the life cycle of plants and the construction of classification keys to group plants.  It will also be used to compare which plants grow in different habitats (playground, field, wildflower meadow, marsh, pond).

Mrs Overton

This month I have ensured that all staff have completed the baseline survey and a sample of 5 children from each class have completed the children’s survey.  We selected a mix of gender, ethnicity and included disadvantaged children in this survey.  This will provide the baseline and we have planned to repeat the survey later in the year to check for impact.

  

Mrs Swinson

We have held our Milton Mount Rolls Royce Project Science Week where each year group worked on preparing a work station. In year 5 we learnt about 2D and 3D shapes and built miniature kits to determine how many sticks of each size will be required to make sets of shapes e.g. regular 5,6,7,8 sided shapes and irregular 5,6,7,8 sided shapes. Over the next couple of weeks, children will also be answering problem solving questions and giving estimates for costs of each set. Examples of work achieved during the week are being collected and a display will be created depicting highlights from the week.

 

 Expenses Update

Total Awarded – £6000

Money remaining 20/01/2020 – £5,467.17

Date Purchases Cost
08/01/2020 Copper bowls/room handles £56.64
14/01/2020 Various items of wood £398.11
28/01/2020 Skeleton £33.75
21/01/2020 Data loggers £77.13
Total expenses £565.63
Money remaining £4,901.54

 

January Diary

Mrs C Harrison

The materials for our music area have arrived and we have started constructing a few sets of chimes using plastic and copper piping of different sizes.  The children are measuring and cutting them accurately so that they are tuned correctly. We have also bought a set of copper bowls to make a giant set of pagoda bells.

It was great to welcome Ellie, our Rolls-Royce mentor, to school this month and show her around. We were able to show her what we have completed so far and where we are planning to put other stations.

 

     

Miss S Cole

I have been growing wildflower seeds with my gardening group in order to create a wildflower meadow in our school grounds.  This area will be used in the summer term to investigate plant growth and variety.

Mrs C Overton

This month I have written the baseline survey for all staff and children about their attitudes and experiences with Science, particularly focusing on practical, investigative experiences.   The staff have completed their survey and children will do it next.

Mrs Y Swinson

I have planned activities for each year group for our Rolls-Royce STEM week in February.  Early years are investigating which is the sunniest wall in the school (in preparation for the construction of a wall mounted sundial).  Year 1 and 2 will be setting up a weather station which will be used throughout the school to collect data to be used in investigations and data handling.  Year 3 will be exploring properties and uses of rocks and making their own rocks and fossils (to be used in the evolution station).  Year 4 will be investigating sound balloons and setting up fair tests.  They are also constructing the instruments for our outdoor sound station.  Year 5 are making 2D and 3D shapes and preparing labels to be used when making the geometry station.  This activity will combine skills of measuring, angles and knowledge of materials as well as mathematical shapes. Year 6 will be investigating how periscopes work and then designing and making their own.  They will then design a giant periscope that they will construct and put in the woods.

 

Expenses Update

Total Awarded – £6000

Money remaining 20/11/2019 – £5,523.81

Date Purchases Cost
27/12/2019 Copper piping £56.64
Total expenses £56.64
Money remaining £5,467.17

 

December Diary

Mrs C Harrison

I have planned the sound station and ordered a variety of materials such as copper and plastic pipes in order to create an area where children can make their own music during Forest Schools.  The instruments will also be used by Year 4 during their Science lessons on how to change pitch.  Our year 4 pupils will make this station during their Forest Schools sessions in the spring term.

Miss S Cole

I have completed my plan for the new materials station/sensory area in the courtyard and have started ordering the necessary materials.  I have also assisted Mrs C Harrison with designing the sound station.

Mrs C Overton

We have had another very productive meeting discussing equipment that we need to buy and our next steps.  I have been working on putting a baseline survey together about STEM subjects in the school – both teacher confidence in using the outdoor area and also children’s perceptions of memorable learning in STEM.

Mrs Y Swinson

The ID station resources are done and ready for use. Meanwhile, we are planning a whole school science week starting 10 February 2020 when each year group will be responsible for designing and resourcing one station. We can’t wait to see what ideas the children come up with!

Mrs T Groves

Mrs T Groves has unfortunately had to leave the project for now as she is off work until the summer.  We hope to welcome her back to the team on her return to school and wow her with the completed maths investigation stations.

 

Expenses Update

Total Awarded – £6000

Money remaining 20/11/2019 – £5,564.63

Date Purchases Cost
02/12/2019 Wooden planks £40.82
Total expenses £40.82
Money remaining £5,523.81

 

November Diary

Mrs C Harrison

This month started well with my visit up to Derby to meet the other finalists and to have a look around some of the Rolls-Royce buildings.  After this, I went to the Science museum in London for this year’s awards ceremony.  It was fascinating to see science in action at Rolls-Royce and to learn a bit about the type of STEM careers available to our pupils.  It was also great to be able to experience the awards ceremony so we know what to expect next year.

Back in school, I have completed the levers and pulleys stations and introduced them to the children.  They quickly discovered that by placing the fulcrum in the most efficient place, a child could be lifted off the ground with the push of just one finger.  The pulleys are already proving very popular, with children working out how to attach a handle to the hook so that other children can hold on and be lifted off the ground.

                 

The competition to find a logo and name for the stations has closed and we are currently looking through the entries to choose a winner.  We have also acquired a router so that signs can be made and placed next to each station.

As we had a lack of chemistry stations planned, we have been thinking how this could feature more prominently.  It has been decided that our sensory garden will also be a materials station.  This is going into a courtyard area at school that is used by children who need a relaxing space to go to.  Our aim is to use a variety of materials which are shiny, smooth, rough, magnetic, soft etcetera which will benefit the children using the area but will also be a great resource for teachers as they will no longer have to gather objects for their materials lessons.

Mrs S Cole

I have been working hard with my gardening group to prepare areas in the sensory garden for planting.  We have also been growing plants from seed and cuttings to be used in this area.  I have completed drawings of what I want the sensory garden to look like and have liaised with Clare about how to include the materials station with what we are doing.

Mrs C Overton

This month, I have sourced materials for the identification and classification station and got these ready to prepare.  We had a meeting to discuss the next stages of the project and I have also ensured that this is discussed with the Headship team.  We are keen to make sure that this has a high focus throughout the school, through regular assemblies and in the school newsletter so that parents are involved.  We have also discussed how to ensure that our project includes the wider community, such as inviting local pre-schools to visit and also other schools.

Mrs Y Swinson

The stations I said I would undertake (plant and minibeast id) have been resourced and are awaiting mounting onto the agreed format. Also we have been considering how to include different chemistry strands into our outdoor learning. We are considering letting children investigate decomposition of organic matter by creating a wormery, observing corrosion in different materials rust by hanging various materials and encouraging children to observe what happens to them over time. A further investigation we are hoping to include is a study into the impact of rubbish on the environment by getting children to part bury different items, letting them observe whether they decompose and if so, how long it takes. We are also investigating different soils and how they settle by creating bottled samples which can be turned then left so that children can explore for themselves the different layers in our soil structures. A further soil ph study area is under consideration where hydrangeas are planted in separate containers and each plant is watered with different water-based solutions to change the ph of the soil and thereby also the colour of the flowers. Soil testing kits would also need to be provided. Lots to do!

Mrs T Groves

I have bought a small version of the Tower of Hanoi in order to see how one works.  During a maths lesson, I worked with some children to see how they approached the problem.  From this, I have decided to initially have only three rings for the children to use and then add extra rings as they are ready to progress to a harder challenge.  It has also been decided to put the game vertically on the side of a shed so that it can be accessed all year by the children, even in bad weather.

 

Expenses Update

Total Awarded – £6000

Money remaining 20/10/2019 – £5,977.08

 

Date Purchases Cost
23/10/2019 Woodsplitter £24.99
04/11/2019 Pulley blocks and rope £336.59
12/11/2019 Logs £50.87
Total expenses £412.45
Money remaining £5,564.63

 

October Diary

The aim of our project is to develop a range of STEM challenge stations around our school grounds in order to provide opportunities for our pupils to have first-hand practical experiences of real world science and maths. We will be setting up Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Maths stations inside our school woodland and around the rest of the school site which children will have access to during Forest School sessions, break times and lessons. They will be set up in a way that allows pupils to explore their natural curiosity about the world around them as well as providing prompt questions to make them think deeper about what is happening and why. The same challenge stations will also be used in practical lessons by class teachers where the focus will be on improving our pupils’ science and maths investigation skills.

Mrs C Harrison

As the project leader, this month has been an exciting time for me as I have been sharing our plans with the pupils, teachers and parents at school.  The pupils have all had an assembly introducing the project and asking for their help with creative ideas of how the stations could be developed.  A competition has been launched to find a good name for the stations as well as a bold logo to help identify where each station is.  This has created a huge amount of excitement around the school and I have already received some brilliant ideas from the pupils. Each year group has also been given the task of choosing one station to help develop.  The suggestion is that pupils pick a science or maths strand that they have already been taught so that they have the knowledge needed to think of creative ways of allowing younger pupils to learn actively.  Parents have been informed of the project through the school newsletter and asked if they would like to come in and provide practical help.

I have already been able to make use of the expertise of our Rolls-Royce mentor with the design of our pulleys station.  She has been able to advise us on how to set up a pulley system and where to source the equipment from.  I am now at the point where I am ready to order the pulleys and ropes and set the system up.  The other station I have been working on is the levers station which comprises of large logs (the fulcrum) with planks over them (the lever).  The children will be able to use these simple machines to discover how the length of a lever affects the force needed to lift on object.

Miss S Cole

As my main area of interest is gardening, I have decided to create a sensory gardening within our school courtyard.  This area will be filled with sensory plants that the children will be able to sit amongst, touch and smell. I have set up a gardening group who are learning how to take cuttings of appropriate plants, divide plants to make more and grow plants from seed.  We have also been collecting seeds in order to grow new plants for free!

Over the coming months, we will be growing plants for teachers to use in science investigations.  This will mean the school will save a lot of money as we will no longer need to buy plants or flowers for biology lessons.

Mrs C Overton

As deputy head, I have been able to raise the profile of the project both within and outside the school.  I have been kept up to date with the progress being made and disseminated this to senior management and the governing body.  I have chosen the classification station as my personal project and have started researching how this can be implemented.

Mrs Y Swinson

Resources for our plant, tree and hedgerow and mini-beast identification stations have been sourced and downloaded from various websites e.g. OPAL. These ID sheets will be edited to ensure they relate to our school environment then laminated and mounted onto boards.

Mrs T Groves

As maths co-ordinator, I am very keen to implement more active maths into our school.  I have therefore taken the lead with the maths investigation station.  I am currently sourcing materials to make a giant Tower of Hanoi and have come up with more ideas for maths challenges that could be built in the school grounds.  As well as this, I have met with the maths team to come up with challenging questions that will be displayed around the investigations to prompt deeper thinking.

 

Expenses Update

Total Awarded £6000

 

Date Purchases Cost
07/10/2019 Plants £22.92
Total expenses £22.92
Money remaining £5,977.08