Oaks Primary Academy has been working on a number of STEM activities recently.

At Oaks Primary Academy, Year 2 are currently immersed in space, literally, as they have a created a 7 foot tall rocket, a mission control centre and swirling multi-coloured galaxies all around them. From their learning on Christopher Columbus in Term 2, Blackbird class became very enquiring and queried the other types of explorers that there can be. This led them to astronauts, the Moon and space exploration, which is totally different to the Polar topic planned for this term! We listened to the pupils’ voices; they had a clear passion and curiosity to learn about space and the science around it and that is exactly what we have run with this term.The impact on all elements of learning over these past 2 weeks has been a joy to be a part of and watch. Pupils are coming out with amazingly thoughtful questions about space and how scientists work to get people there. Reading and writing in particular have progressed as pupils are so engaged, constantly choosing to read the many space books available in the room to answer their own and others’ questions. This learning journey belongs to them as they are guiding it daily with their latest space queries. Their questions this week have included: Why is Pluto no longer a planet? Who decided? How do planets orbit the sun? Is there a winter time in space? (Inspired by Mrs Tipple’s recent Winter Challenge of having to teach her something new, winter related, by creating a model). Since, the pupils have discovered some planets are called Ice Giants and are colder than the coldest winter in Antarctica, they are choosing to present these facts as a project. Pupils are also independently researching and reading about their favourite planet to create a project on it to present in any form once their information is collected.

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In their creative art and D&T time, pupils have created the planets of our solar system, blowing up balloons of different sizes themselves and using papier-mâché, they have designed and made space telescopes with different images to put in for viewing, used fabric pens to create our personalised Oaks Space Academy Moon landing flag and have designed rocket images using shapes in Maths.  In PE, NASA have published a training course called Mission X – Train like an Astronaut. It has been teaching the pupils about the importance of astronauts exercising in space and we have been completing our Agility Astro Course, Crew Strength Training and practising for our space walk.

About their Space learning, Year 2 pupils have said:

“Training to be an astronaut is hard work. We have to fill in our Mission Journal about how we feel after PE. Real astronauts must have so much more work to do. I love learning about all of the planets and their different cores. I didn’t realise that the Sun is a star! We just keep asking, how is it like that?! I didn’t know how special Earth is. Ours is the only planet perfect enough for things to live on. Building the rocket was fun because we got to do it all ourselves, like planning what we wanted it to be like, building it and then decorating it. It took us maybe 3 or 4 days. How do they even make real rockets and their buttons? And how can they blast off? Do they even blast off when it’s snowing? I’m sure they test them though before they put astronauts in them. When Miss O’Donoghue showed us the piece of meteorite that was found in a crater in Argentina I thought I wanted to be a scientist when I am big and test them when they fall to Earth to see where they come from and help people know when one might land on Earth.”

Year 3 were set the challenge of designing a brand new robot. After much thought and discussion, sketches were made for a variety of machines including a rescue drone, house cleaner and meal making machine. The children began making a prototype of their robots from recyclable material, making sure they kept to their initial sketch. In the following days, the children began promoting their products by writing adverts and they entered the Dragons’ Den to convince members of the class to invest in their new machine. These Design and Technology skills will be applied again later in the term when the children create their own healthy snack bar designed for the Winter Olympic athletes.

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About their Robot learning, Year 3 pupils have said: 

“It was really fun. We didn’t just read about other people’s robots; we actually got to do it and make ours. We had to think about a lot of questions: Who would want our robot? What will people need it for? How will we make it?  It was good. We got to turn rubbish into useful things. I think we can keep improving our ideas by trying new things with it. ”

Year 5 had been learning about the Victorian era and were inspired by famous figures such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel to find out more about the field of engineering and what the job of an engineer entails. Pupils began their bridge building project with a paper bridge challenge. They had to find a way of structuring 6 sheets of A4 paper to hold as much weight as possible. Pupils said after that they thought this would be easy. They were surprised at how tricky this actually was. The winning bridge held 2.2kg! At this point, we knew there were future engineers in Kingfisher class. Next, the class investigated which shapes make structures the most stable. Pupils found that triangles worked best and then used this knowledge in designing their truss bridges. Pupils planned these and constructed these using K’Nex. Year 5 then looked at forces of tension and compression and how these worked in bridges and followed this up by attempting a trickier challenge: making cable-stayed bridges out of K’Nex. One group even took on Ms Mehigan’s challenge of adding a working drawbridge section.

Year 5 then received a brief. They had to construct a wooden bridge that could take traffic across a river and hold at least 2kg in weight. Each pupil completed an individual design and pitched their idea to their group. Each team then took the best elements to put together to create their group bridge design. They learned a lot about teamwork and listening at this point. They set out to turn their plans into wooden bridges and learned how to use a range of tools independently and safely, and also figured out how to problem-solve and adapt their designs when they weren’t quite going to plan. The completed bridges all safely held a live load of at least 2kg and really showed off what the children have learned. You can see examples of many different types of bridges that are both functional and that also have some interesting design elements on our website or Twitter. Well done, Kingfisher Class!

About their Bridge Building, Year 5 pupils have said: 

“We had to use a lot of new skills, especially when making a cable-stayed bridge using wood and metal wire. There was a lot of measuring, drilling and cutting the wood diagonally. That was tricky! Parts of the bridge building were very stressful because we made mistakes and our bridges were not stable but we figured out how to solve the problems together. Real engineering must be stressful!  It was a good type of learning because it was so fun and we really had to think properly. When we see bridges now, we think about how they were built, its whole process and what the engineers had to do. I think now I could be an engineer. I’d like to know what people who build bridges think of our bridges. “

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Thank you to Rochester Bridge Trust , www.rbt.org.uk for this exciting STEM activity.

Further news on activities at Oaks Primary Academy can be found when following the academy on Twitter- @lat_oaksprimary