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STEAM Interactive 2021

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Mark Budge, STEAM coordinator at Leighton Park School, reflects on the success of STEAM Interactive 2021, a virtual outreach event designed to engage young pupils in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and maths.

This blog was first published on the ISC website on 23 March 2021.

According to the World Economic Forum, the three most important skills for the future are creativity, problem solving and critical thinking. At Leighton Park, these are the skills we focus on in STEAM. Making creativity explicit is why we include the arts in STEM to make STEAM. It is this focus that is also the key to encouraging more girls to study STEM subjects and enter into STEM careers.

 During this year’s British Science Week, we hosted STEAM Interactive 2021, an outreach event attended by over 100 students from 18 primary and prep schools. Pupils had the opportunity to tune in to five interactive workshops, live Q&As, a keynote speech on The Future of Technology and six STEAM Stories, presenting the STEAM journeys of experienced industry professionals. The event was delivered through the school’s website, with links to pre-recorded workshop sessions on YouTube and live Q&As on Zoom. There was also an Art & Engineering themed competition for students to enter using their work from the sessions on Monday and Thursday.

“Our commitment to educational partnerships is a key aspect of our work at Leighton Park,” commented Natasha Coccia, assistant head: outreach and partnerships. “We work with state schools to help raise engagement and progress in a range of subjects, but as a STEAM hub a real highlight of the academic year is our work with KS2 students in the area of STEAM through our Big Bang Interactive event which is usually in the spring term. This year’s event has taken a different form and gone online but has enabled us to reach even more participants. We are thrilled with this level of engagement during the week that schools have reopened across England. A particularly exciting feature this year is our focus on women in STEAM, with our guest panellists from Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, Design Nature, Ethical Reading and David Ross Educational Trust.”

The sessions, which included the opportunity to construct a pop-up stage set, build a geodesic dome, witness a sheep’s heart dissection, undertake experiments with exercise and pulse, and send messages in morse code, certainly went down well with the hundreds of pupils involved.

 Catherine Reeves, Year 6 teacher at Evendons Primary School, enthused about the Art & Engineering workshop: “All the children from Year 4 to Year 6 were fascinated by the amount of weight the egg could withstand - we had a 'sweepstake' for the vertical test to add to the excitement and they loved it. It was the perfect combination of suspense, excitement and a challenging collaborative activity. Thank you!”

 Philly Hatton-Evans, Year 6 teacher at Waverley School, enjoyed the presentation from the sixth form CTECH Sport students called ‘At the Heart of It’: “I just wanted to say thank you to Leighton Park for organising such an exciting and interactive STEAM week. The children have absolutely loved it so far and it has made the first week back in school even more exciting. I also wanted to say how impressive the sixth form pupils were just now on the live Q&A session. They spoke with great knowledge and confidence of their subject and the children here were completely gripped by the session. It is clear that they love their subject and the school.”