By Lisa Ward
This was School Gate SET volunteers in action! And the very first session I had been involved with.
After I contacted them (and built on previous conversations they had had with the School Gates SET), Pixies Hill Primary School invited us to come in as volunteers and share our knowledge and enthusiasm for science, engineering and technology. The Year 6 class had recently covered forces as part of the curriculum, so we chose a K-NEX bridge building activity.
The class was given a recap on forces and an introduction to how these apply to various types of bridges. We showed photos of famous bridges (it was good to find out that the children recognised many of them!) and asked the children what other bridges they could think of.
We then asked them to design and build a bridge to carry a toy car across a 30cm gap. Groups of 3 or 4 children were asked to work together to design the bridge first. Thinking in 3D was a challenge! Then the construction phase was undertaken and the initial designs adapted.
The bridges varied widely but everyone seemed to enjoy the activity and everyone seemed to be included in their team. Whilst presenting the bridges to the rest of the class, the children were able to reinforce some key facts; triangles are the strongest shapes, and it is always a good idea to check assumptions about the requirements.
I am aware of other demonstrations which can be delivered by volunteers to support schools and look forward to trying some more out. Some require only cheap, household items and cater for younger years. There are loads of ideas on the web (and quite a few were covered in the School Gate SET workshop I went to) so there’s plenty to choose from in order to match whatever areas schools want covered. I hope to find a local volunteer available to join me on my next session in Hemel Hempstead, probably during Science Week (10-19 March).