First Campus successfully won a bid to deliver the STEM Pathways programme across a 19 month period, in 2014 and 2015. STEM Pathways built on the existing First Campus STEM programme, increasing STEM provision within Communities First clusters and schools where First Campus projects were already being delivered.
This engagement allowed a holistic approach, building on current STEM provision to support continuous engagement across the year groups, with particular focus on Year 7, 8 & 9. The aim was to strengthen the attainment of Level 2 in STEM subjects; raise confidence and self-esteem of those in school, college and the wider community; to progress learners of all ages to Level 4 STEM related learning.
STEM Pathways projects also include the STEM RAP Tour and the Stockmarket Challenge, listed under STEM projects.
The root planner project, funded by STEM Pathways, looks at unusual areas for growing plants and food, both within the school grounds and in the local community. The project is aimed at KS3 pupils and four First Campus schools took part. In the first year of the STEM Pathways funding Glyn Derw High School in Cardiff and Pen y Dre High School in Merthyr Tydfil were involved; in the second year Brynmawr Foundation School in Blaenau Gwent and Llanwern High in Newport participated.
Root Planner consists of three elements:
1. Schools element: mapping project
2. Community element: mapping walk
3. Progression element: Global Gardens
Pupils went on mapping walks to identify growing areas, within the school grounds and in the local community. Pupils are supported by a mapping expert and a specialist who works with them on photography, filming and creating an iBook. Mapping starts in the school grounds and then steadily encompasses the local area around the school. Pupils are taught to look for unusual areas for growing while considering what plants need to grow and any hazards or challenges for the site. Pupils noted information on log sheets prior to adding this information to the online map using Open Green Maps.
Numeracy is supported by the use of a measuring wheel and calculating the size of the growing space, which is important in understanding how many and what type of plants can be grown. Calculations can then be made for the amount and cost of materials to build raised beds, followed by the volume and cost of soil to fill them if appropriate. Literacy and ICT are developed through writing pieces for the iBook, created using photographs and films of the event, and descriptions for inclusion on the map. The STEM subjects are supported by demonstrating practical applications of knowledge and development of skills such as observation and recording. This project also included a presentation aimed at raising aspirations.
Link to the Pen y Dre and Glyn Derw ibooks:
78 year 9 students from local schools visited Cardiff University to learn more about Bioscience courses and careers. They were guided through an experiment by current Cardiff University students, who study a variety of Bioscience subjects. This mini experiment was designed to replicate the procedures students would follow whilst participating in field work at university.
The day began in Bute Park, just a stone’s throw from the university buildings. In groups, the students were asked to collect woodlice, daisies or samples of soil. Using the university equipment in an outdoor setting created a vibrant learning environment. “It’s better to get outside and do things like this, it’s a lot more fun”, commented one student.
Once all samples were collected, the students tried their hand at analysing and experimenting on what they had found in the Sir Martin Evans building. This is where all lectures, seminars and lab sessions take place for bioscience subjects. In the lab, the year 9 pupils were provided with all the equipment needed to carry out experiments on the samples.
Each group worked together, under the guidance of a university student, to summarise the results of their experiment. They were asked to create a report on their findings and to prepare a presentation that would be delivered to their fellow students. It was great to see each group talk about all that they had learned during the day.
Not only did the students enjoy looking the part in their lab coats, protective goggles and gloves, they also enjoyed experiencing what it would be like to study a subject like ecology at university:
“Really fun, they have explained a lot, it’s been great and really interesting.”
“It has been fun experiment on what we have found in the park.”
“We got to go into a lot more detail than we would do in school, because in school we don’t have all this equipment.”
Hands on for Health!
We gave year 9 students the opportunity to experience a hands on medical environment at Cardiff University’s Heath campus. Our future aspiring doctors, nurses, physios, midwives and more got a true taste of hospital life as we gave them a sneak peek behind the scenes of a hospital. Through a simulated experience, we used the Heath campus to create a true hospital setting.
The day began with an insight into health studies courses at university. By giving the students a tour of the simulated facilities the Heath campus has, the pupils were shown the type of learning environments university has to offer them if they decide to take a medical route at higher education. The tour not only highlighted the university facilities but it also created a hospital environment which gave the pupils a true feel of what it is like to work in a hospital.
“I didn’t know University would be like this! I thought it was all books and reading but it’s really practical which is really interesting!”
“It really creates the setting of a hospital which is good because you get an idea of what it will be like working in one”
Later on, the year 9 pupils were given a range of interactive demonstrations in order to teach them a variety of clinical skills; the type of skills they will learn if they decide to study a medical subject at university. With a life like manikin to hand, pupils observed demonstrations on how they would perform a range of medical practices such as CPR. However, there was no sitting down for the students as we made them get involved and practice these skills on the dummies themselves. The aim was to create true feel of what being a medic may be like.
“I loved practising CPR, now I could save someone’s life which is so cool!”
“It was so lifelike”
Later that day, our year 9 pupils were thrown straight into the deep end, plunging straight on to a children’s ward, a lab and even an operating theatre. The pupils were given the opportunity to play the role of nurses and surgeons by performing and practising essential skills required in medical practices. The pupils learnt to care, investigate and even operate with a lifelike human body. Through these simulated activities, pupils learnt the true demands of a medical professional.
“I’m basically a brain surgeon now”
“It was so disgusting, I loved it!”
“Working on a children’s ward would be so nice, I would really want to help them”
Overall, the day was an enlightening experience as it gave the pupils an insight of what university has to offer whilst also teaching them about different aspects of healthcare. Through this hands on experience, the pupils became engaged with health care!
“I really enjoyed today, it was so exciting”
“It was scary seeing what nurses and doctors have to do but that’s what makes it exciting”
“I think today has confirmed that I really want to do medicine at university”
Much More Than an Equation
Cardiff Metropolitan and Cardiff University joined together in order to take local year 10&11 pupils from the four walls of the classroom into the real world of opportunity. The aim of the inspiration day was to enlighten pupils to the importance and excitement of science subjects whilst giving them a true taste of university life through various higher education taster sessions. This was a celebration of science, which took the students from the equation into the real world.
Starting the day with an appointment with the doctor, students got to play the role of the GP as they learnt how to diagnose a patient through the art of conversation. At the same time, dentistry was dirty! The dentistry students showed the pupils how dirty our hands really are. Through the use of UV light, the horrifying amounts of germs were identified. The pupils were then shown how to wash their hands to the acceptable amount needed for qualified teeth pulling.
A session with a real life superhero was particularly inspiring. Surprisingly, he wasn’t wearing a cape, nor did he have his underpants over his trousers! In fact, he was wearing a suit and was an engineer. In this session, we found out how the world would pretty much end without engineers. They are the ones that make it happen! The pupils were told that, the scientist forms the equation and from this, the engineers keep it going. “Exploiting science for the benefit of humanity; making the world a better place”. If being a modern day superhero wasn’t enough the pupils were told by a very happy 45 year old engineer that engineers can earn £1000 for every year of their age annually. Therefore, if the pupils could not be inspired morally, they definitely were financially.
Later, pupils learnt that maths keeps you out of prison. The pupils had to play the role of the defendant. Through the use of probability, and a ‘golden balls’ style of game, pupils had to defect or cooperate with the other defendants in order to decide how many years they got in prison. One pupil commented: “Maths was really cool and interesting”.
The afternoon was then invaded by robots! Pupils learnt how to navigate a robot through the simple use of a computer. Psychology then went to show the pupils that it is all about the mind. As pupils became young Derren Browns, they were able to move a ball with the power of mind, learning how electrical signals in the brain can actually move objects.
Later on, the biomedical science session showed the pupils the importance of stem cells and how they save our lives. They were educated on how it is so much more than a tiny cell. Pupils were pushed to their moral extremes as they discussed difficult questions that bio-meds face every day. The hardest question was whether we should create embryos in order to produce stem cells to save lives. The questions resulted in logical argument and heated debate amongst the students.
The day enlightened and inspired local pupils about the real world of science:
“I found the day really helpful, I have a better idea of want I want to do now”
“I’m even more confused on what I want to do now, they’re all so good! Can I do them all?”
“It was really cool”
“It was really informative and enjoyable”
“My favourite parts were discussing and debating problems within the subject”
“I am definitely going to uni now!”
“I’m even thinking of doing maths now”
“It was really fun and interesting”
Global Investment Challenge
The Global Investment Challenge is a STEM mathematics and business project aimed at year 12 school and college students. Run alongside the Stock Market Challenge, the project has also been hosted at Cardiff Met University and match funded by HSBC.
Around 80 students from schools and colleges across South East Wales took part in this Maths in Action event, which took place in the IT suite. The students used the Global Investor Simulation software, which is part of the Stock Market Challenge classroom resource. Students worked in pairs, competing against each other during a simulated week on the stock market.
The Global Investment Challenge supports the real life application of maths, economics, business and ICT skills and encourages students to consider Higher Education, increasing their awareness of the opportunities available to them.