STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) forms an integral part of the ALP curriculum. We strive to ensure that all of our pupils have the skills they need to enable them to gain employment in the STEM sector in the North East. We aim to achieve this by removing gender stereotypes and immersing our pupils in STEM through activities that enhance and enrich the curriculum, so that ALP pupils develop a passion for STEM and demonstrate that they have ‘skills for life’. Employability skills (Skills for Life) have been identified as being a priority for employers. We develop our pupils’ resilience, communication, team-working, self-motivation and problem solving skills, while also ensuring that they learn to keep themselves and others safe.
ALP pupils engage in STEM and ‘skills for life’ on a daily basis through activities that are intertwined into the curriculum and through employer engagement with organisations such as ARUP, AkzoNobel, Stratstone BMW Tyneside, the Marine Society and Primary Engineer. In 2019 the ALP became a regional hub for Primary Engineer teacher training when our ‘Institution of Primary Engineer suite’ (funded by the Platten Foundation) was officially opened by Member of Parliament for Wansbeck, Ian Lavery. ALP pupils regularly achieve success in regional and national STEM competitions run by organisations like Primary Engineer and the Engineer Leaders award.
As part of their work towards the Engineer Leaders Award, a number of our KS2 classes have taken part in live Skype interviews with a variety of engineers. Miss Brown’s Year 4 children were treated to an inspirational live presentation and Skype interview with mechanical engineer Lorna Bennett from ‘ORE Catapult’, who showed the children her work with renewable energy on offshore turbines. Mrs Walker’s very excited Year 3 class interviewed Brain Engineer Dr Vincent Giampietro. Year 3 and Year 5 children also watched a live presentation on the role that engineering has in solving the problem of waste plastic. The children then interviewed expert and BBC presenter Mark Miodownik. Our children thoroughly enjoyed the experience and impressed the engineers with some excellent interview questions.
All of our KS2 children have again entered the national Engineer Leaders Award. The prestigious engineering and entrepreneurial competition which is funded by the Reece foundation, asks children to answer the question ‘if you were an engineer, what would you do?’. Children used all of their ‘Skills for Life’ to create unique inventions that will help to solve problems in the real world. Children also wrote formal letters to the engineer judges to accompany their invention design drawings. Good luck to all our children in the competition!
Bothal has become a regional teacher training hub for STEM-specific (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Primary Engineer teacher training, following the official opening of our Primary Engineer suite by Member of Parliament for Wansbeck, Ian Lavery. Funded by the Platten Family Foundation, the ‘Institution of Primary Engineers suite’ at Bothal, which features 3D printers, IT facilities and practical work spaces will provide new training opportunities for teachers working with Primary Engineer’s programmes from across the region and beyond, as well as serving as an inspirational classroom resource for our children to engage with engineering.
Bothal children have enjoyed considerable success in recent years in both the Engineer Leaders award and in the Primary Engineer electric vehicle competition. Our KS2 teams have won the advanced Engineer Level 2 section in the North East regional finals for three years running and our KS1 teams won the Apprentice Level 2 sections in the most recent competition. Ian Lavery MP said, “It’s great to see Bothal Primary getting the recognition it deserves following their involvement in the primary engineers scheme which I was proud to support. Our young people in Wansbeck, across Northumberland and the rest of the U.K. deserve equal opportunities and through schemes like this, our engineers of the future will start to get inspired!”
ARUP sent environmental consultants and members of their Geographical Information Systems (GIS) team to Bothal to work with Year 5 for the day. The children worked with large physical maps of Ashington, to explore how building constraints like environmental sites, green spaces and former coal mines will have an impact on their redesigns of Ashington. The children then moved onto using GIS to include and display multiple layers and to draw features onto digital maps. The workshops were an exciting and very informative way for the children to include real aspects of the world of work within their projects and to highlight more examples of future STEM careers that are available to them. Well done Year 5!
Bothal children have visited AkzoNobel along with their friends from Germany, Italy and Poland. Children were given a great insight into local industry. They had an opportunity to tour the £100 million facility, practice their painting in ‘the Dulux academy’ using paint freshly made that morning and try out Virtual Reality headsets. Children also met a very special celebrity… Madison the Dulux Old English Sheepdog.
“We have a fantastic working relationship with the Ashington Learning Partnership so we were delighted to be approached about the ERASMUS+ project at Bothal,” said Jill Johnston, site support coordinator at AkzoNobel Ashington. “The children thoroughly enjoyed the day they spent with us on the site. They were really engaged and loved getting hands-on with the painting exercises. “Bringing colour to people’s lives and engaging with the local communities around the site has always been a key priority for us. “We hope that the visit will help to inspire the children with ideas for their playground as the project progresses.”
As part of the Erasmus+ project to design a STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) themed playground, the children have spent a day with the NHS Business Services Authority in Newcastle. The children worked with developers, user experience designers and data analysts on a variety of STEM activities. Children also designed websites for each of their countries, to showcase what they have achieved in the project. The day was a fantastic insight into STEM careers and the world of work! Stephen Walker, Application Support Developer said “all of the children demonstrated great team-working skills and are a credit to their schools and the Erasmus+ project”.
Year 2 pupils at Bothal and Central Primary were visited by staff from Stratstone BMW Tyneside, who came into school to judge their engineering projects. Pupils had been challenged to design and build shoe box BMW cars capable of safely transporting a toy down a ramp. Pupils were awarded points based on three main categories. Firstly the judges looked at the build quality of the BMWs the children had built and their chosen safety feature. Next the cars took part in ramp tests which included marks for the distance the cars traveled and a straight line test. Marks were awarded for their project work, which included their initial designs, improvements they made after testing their cars, research into the types of engineering, research into BMW and work on forces. Finally pupils were awarded marks for showing 'skills for life' such as resilience, problem solving, team-working and how well they communicated their ideas to the judges. BMW Stratstone brought four BMW's with them, including the new 'i8 Roadster' and the new 'M5', which the very excited children thoroughly enjoyed exploring. BMW judges were very impressed by the quality of the work and the enthusiasm of our children!
Year 6 pupils have continued to work on their two year 'Ashington Redesign Urban Planning project'. Engineers and geologists from global engineering firm ARUP, visited Bothal to watch pupils deliver presentations on their work so far. Pupils were able to show the engineers their concept, design and structural drawings for the new buildings they are designing in Ashington. Pupils demonstrated some of the key design features that they have adapted from researching many of the unique buildings that ARUP have been a part of, such as the 'Sydney Opera House', the 'Marina Bay Sands' in Singapore, the 'Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium' in Beijing and 'The Canton Tower' in China. The pupils also showed the engineers some of the types of sustainable materials that they would like to use for their buildings.
As part of the 'Engineer Leaders Award', some of our Year 3 and Year 4 classes have taken part in a live online interview. Pupils watched a live presentation from Dr Ghida Ibrahim and then had the chance to ask her about her job as a Quantitative Engineer and Data Scientist for facebook. Our pupils asked her some really interesting questions about her job at facebook and about what inspired her to become an engineer.
Some of our Year 6 pupils have taken part in the Northumberland Space Programme. Our pupils participated in seven days of science, history and music workshops at Woodhorn Museum, The Sill at Northumberland National Park and at Newcastle University. Pupils explored the history of Northumberland, from the 'Big Bang' to the present day. This also included learning about space, galaxies and planets, as well as the history of Ashington and the geology of Northumberland. The project trip to The Sill at Northumberland National Park, gave pupils a hands on experience of the great outdoors, utilising the building’s purpose built ‘living’ roof, and taking a closer look into the park’s special 'Protected Dark Sky' status. At Newcastle University, the group visited the 'School of Maths and Statistics' and took part in activities, investigations and experiments with astrophysicists based in the department.
The workshops and trips culminated in a performance piece at the end of the project. The pupils developed and created the space themed performance, aided by acclaimed composer Andy Ingamells. The Northumberland Space Programme offered our children an excellent insight into a number of potential STEM careers and routes into STEM based University courses. This very special project was funded by the 'Hand Of' charity.