STEM Newsletter for secondary schools in Wales
The e-newsletter that's an essential source of information and inspiration for teachers – and anyone with an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) engagement – across Wales.
- STEM Opportunities for teachers and pupils
- Competitions and Awards
- Dates for your diary
- British Science Festival – Swansea University
Ask a STEM Ambassador to visit your school
A STEM Ambassador's involvement can engage and enthuse both students and teachers. If you are interested in asking a STEM Ambassador to visit your school you can make your request here or contact See Science directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Give us your Ambassador feedback
If an Ambassador has visited your school, or if you have met an Ambassador at an enrichment activity, we would be very grateful if you could fill in our teacher feedback form. Please encourage colleagues to respond.
Teacher information pages
Events, competitions, grants and resources are regularly added to our teacher information web pages. You can check them out by following these links:
FREE STEM Challenges for the autumn term – book now!
Schools are invited to take in a STEM Challenge during the autumn term. The Challenges require all of the skills involved a real-work challenge: teamwork, design, construction, problem solving, communication, research – and fun!
The STEM Challenges are designed to facilitate learning, team working and encourage pupils’ curiosity to find out how and why things work. By taking part in the challenges, pupils develop their problem solving, self-management and innovation skills. All secondary pupils who complete a STEM Challenge can register for a Discovery CREST Award.
The resources have been produced thanks to generous support from the Welsh Government’s National Science Academy. Secondary schools in Wales can book ONE STEM Challenge FREE. Places are limited so early booking is recommended.
There are three STEM Challenges:
- Emergency Communication Challenge
- Space Challenge
- Marble Roller Coaster Challenge
To book one of these or to register interest, email email@example.com.
Bloodhound micro:bit model rocket car challenge – season 2
Bloodhound SSC Education Team have launched season 2 of the Micro:Bit model rocket car challenge (England and Wales only).
The challenge is free for schools to enter and the Army, one of the main sponsors, is again providing some of the kit required free of charge. The competition is open to years 3 to 11. More details here.
Inspire an interest in human and other animals with… cake?
The Physiological Society invites students to tap into Great British Bake Off fever through science baking! Back for its third year The Bio-Bodies Bake Off, or #BioBakes for short, is winging its way into kitchens and science classrooms near you!
Schools need to produce a bake, savoury or sweet, representing physiology, the science of how your body works. They must print off the #BioBakes entrance form, fill it in, and take a photo of the cake with it. Then it needs submitting on the website. You can use the #hashtag #BioBakes on twitter and Instagram. More details here…
Back to topBP Ultimate STEM Challenge 2017
We are excited to share that BP has launched the Ultimate STEM Challenge for a third year in partnership with the Science Museum and STEM Learning. This year, students aged 11 to 14 across the UK are being challenged to use their STEM skills creatively to design either a rocket, remote controlled aircraft or robot arm that enables a safer and easier working environment in some of the Earth’s most extreme locations. Information is outlined on the BP Education Services website and more information will be available to share with schools in the near future.
The challenges are designed to inspire your students, not just the science enthusiasts. STEM Ambassadors can also get involved to help inspire your students by bringing real-world knowledge and applications to the challenges.
Teams are made up of two to four students aged 11 to 14, and they can win some fantastic prizes, including an invitation to a celebration event at the Science Museum, an Ultimate STEM experience day, £500 for their school and Science Museum goodies.
Tomorrow’s Engineers – careers presentation
A new, interactive presentation that introduces 11-14 year olds to engineering has been developed in collaboration with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Institute of Physics, Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Engineering and Technology, along with input from teachers and volunteers. It covers the diversity of engineering with the central message that engineers can improve people’s lives and solve problems around the world. Take a look here…
Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2016 – ballot open
The 2016 Christmas Lectures ticket ballot is now open. The ballot runs for three weeks and will close at 23.59 on Wednesday 28 September 2016.
RI members and UK registered schools have the exclusive opportunity to enter the annual ballot for tickets to see the programme being recorded as live for broadcast on BBC Four. Tickets to the Christmas Lectures are only available to young people aged 11 to 17 at the time of filming. All adults must be accompanied by at least one young person.
The 2016 Christmas Lectures will consist of three hour-long lectures filmed in front of a live audience at the Royal Institution over three evenings on Saturday 10 December, Tuesday 13 December and Thursday 15 December.
More information and tickets here.
Gopher Science Lab Grants, now available
Gopher Science Lab supports students’ transition from primary to secondary school with peer to peer learning across age groups. Secondary students learn how to deliver the range of Gopher Science Lab hands-on science activities to primary pupils. It gives all participating students ownership of their learning and helps them gain confidence. Grants are now available to enable UK schools to run a Gopher Science Lab event. The deadline to apply is 26 September 2016.
Stimulating Physics Network
Do you teach physics at a maintained school in Wales? If so you might be interested in the Institute of Physics free programme of support, the Stimulating Physics Network.
Our Stimulating Physics Network works with partner schools across Wales to support teachers and students of physics. Our professional Teaching and Learning Coaches can tailor the support to each school and its needs. The programme is particularly suitable for newly qualified teachers or non-specialists who are teaching physics.
If you are interested in this opportunity or have any questions about the programme please email Abigail Ashton firstname.lastname@example.org or David Cunnah email@example.com. We are currently recruiting schools for the 2016/2017 school year.
Back to topDark Sky Wales
To help ease you back into the academic year Dark Sky Wales would like to make you an exclusive offer! Reduced from £370 a day to just £250 Dark Sky Wales Planetarium Experience can be enthralling and Inspiring your students this term. From the comfort of your own school hall visit the planets, learn the stories of the ancients and understand our place in the Universe, the planetariums out of this world experience can really set the tone for the coming years learning.
Book your visit soon as with prices this low places won’t last long. For more information or to make a booking contact Allan – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apps for Good
Apps for Good is a linked scheme with CREST Awards; students will submit for CREST Bronze automatically through their apps for good forms.
- Open to UK primary and secondary schools, FE colleges
- Flexible course framework that can be delivered to students 10-18 within curriculum time, as a club or within timetabled enrichment
- Any level of teacher experience or subject knowledge
- Free for non-fee paying UK schools.
TeenTech City of Tomorrow
The TeenTech City of Tomorrow activity & competition initiative offers students in Key Stages 2 and 3 (8-14 year olds) the opportunity to create their vision of the future. In this city there are no limits, no ideas are too big and everything is smarter, kinder and safer than before. Register your interest here.
The Science of Dragons Roadshow
Science2Life has been awarded, in partnership with See Science, funding from the Welsh Government to deliver the Science of Dragons Show in primary and secondary schools across Wales until March 2018.
Viking history, legend and dragon lore inspired Cressida’s How to Train Your Dragon series and just like Cressida’s stories, Scientific Sue aims to transport her audiences back in time to a fictional world where Vikings ruled and dragons roamed.
This innovative and interactive show explores how dragons can be captured using a crossbow, trained and then used to defeat the enemy tribe; The Meatheads!
Scientific Sue needs lots of volunteers to help her investigate and explore the science of how dragons fly and then, using some of the science behind the different dragon fire types (steam, icy fog, explosive gases, flammable liquids and of course big flames).
Available FREE to all secondary (Year 7) schools in Wales in 2016 – 2018 thanks to funding from Welsh Government National Science Academy. Contact See Science if you would like the show to visit your school during the Spring Term 2017. To book email email@example.com.
“The teachers enjoyed the show as much as the children …. brilliantly put together and thoroughly engaging.” Ysgol Deganwy May 2016
“Just wanted to thank you again for an amazing show this morning. Having spoken to the pupils last lesson the feedback is very positive, they loved it!” Ysgol Gyfun Gartholwg June 2016
Curriculum Links: Science & Engineering plus History, Literacy and Story-telling. The science can focus on: chemical reactions, combustion, states of matter, flight, buoyancy, forces, energy, digestion, and respiration, tests for oxygen, carbon dioxide and hydrogen.
Back to topCompetitions and Awards
The Big Bang Competition
Don’t miss this great opportunity for your schools to take part in The Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Competition.
The Big Bang Competition lets more young people than ever showcase their science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) projects and rewards and recognises their achievements. It’s open to UK residents in full-time education or training (year groups 7-13 in England/Wales, 8-14 in Northern Ireland and P1-S6 in Scotland).
Online applications are open until 20 November 2016. Finalists will showcase their projects to thousands of visitors at The Big Bang Fair 2017, 15-18 March in Birmingham, the UK’s largest STEM celebration for young people. Winners will get a range of fantastic prizes, including the chance to be crowned UK Young Scientist of the Year and UK Young Engineer of the Year, as well as special prizes from companies including BAE Systems and Rotary International.
Last year, Ysgol Uwchradd Tywyn, Gwynedd took part in a Virtual Regional Final via a WebEx internet link, when they presented their ideas to a panel of judges somewhere else in the UK. The Tywyn team won the category of ‘Best Teamwork’ All very exciting!
CISCO Little BIG Awards – apply now
Can you connect the unconnected?
We use the internet every day: on our computers, on tablets and mobile phones. You can watch TV, make phone calls, send photos, and shop – all on the internet. But even today less than 1% of all things are connected to the internet. What happens when your microwave, your central heating, your car, or even maybe your school workbooks are connected to the internet?
Cisco invites your school to take part in the Little BIG Awards to show us how you think your life could be made better by connecting the unconnected. School can choose to enter their work as a CREST project enabling the pupils to gain a Bronze CREST Award. More details at CISCO Little BIG Awards competition or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back to topDesign For A Better World
Design for a Better World offers an exciting new global design challenge and competition for students aged 11-14 years. If offers students the opportunity to:
- Learn about the Global Goals for Sustainable Development
- Access a range of global contexts including Water and Sanitation, Food Security and Climate Action in which to identify a design problem
- Explore a range of technologies that people are developing around the world to address global challenges.
The deadline for entering the competition is 16 December 2016.
This science competition is for students aged 11–16, with prizes of £100 for winners and £500 for their schools. Jointly run by Copper Development Association and the Association for Science Education, the competition calls on students to explore copper in physics, biology and chemistry, creating a poster on one of three topics that each focus on a different aspect of copper in our modern lives.
Full details here.
ESO Astronomy Camp
Would one of your students like to spend a week during the Christmas holidays in the Italian Alps doing astronomy activities? The camp will explore the theme of the Multiwavelength Universe via several astronomical sessions, including lectures, hands-on activities, and night-time observations with the telescopes of the Observatory, alongside various social activities and winter sports.
Applications will close on the 4 October. Winners of the financial support and general acceptance will be notified by 16 October. The final registration will be by 30 October. More information here.
School Biology Teacher of the Year Award
Are you or do you know an amazing teacher of biology who deserves recognition? Why not nominate them for an award to recognise their talent and skill? The School Biology Teacher of the Year Award will open this week for nominations from or of teachers who are working with students aged 11-18 years old; teaching pre-university level biology programmes of study; currently employed in a UK based school or college. The 2016/17 award opens on 1 September and the deadline for nominations is 23 December 2016. This year’s winner will receive £500 for themselves and £500 of Oxford University Press resources for their school in addition to prizes from UK 3B Scientific Ltd.
Do you have an innovative way of engaging your students with STEM?
Science on Stage UK are seeking up to twelve talented and passionate teachers and technicians from all areas of STEM in 5-19 education to represent the UK at the Science on Stage European Festival 2017.
Chosen UK delegates will get the opportunity to share their passion, skills and projects via a poster presentation alongside teachers from 25 other countries, raising the profile of their work and their school at an international level.
“Science on Stage was the most inspirational CPD event I have ever taken part in, as I came away with a myriad of project ideas, strategies and resources to ensure the success of my next project” Colin Inglis, Boroughbridge High School and 2015 UK delegate. Previous delegate presentations have included challenging gender stereotypes in science, learning themed around human space flight and developing creative science in the outdoor classroom.
The application process is now live, deadline 12 October 2016. More information about Science on Stage UK, the application process and useful downloads here…
Back to topDates for your diary
Welsh Physics Teachers Conference in Brecon
Christ College Brecon LD3 8AF. 5 October
A wonderful opportunity for teachers and technicians to take part in a wide variety of physics CPD activities. This free day of workshops is open to all teachers, technicians, newly qualified and trainee teachers.
Our keynote speaker is Prof Sir Michael Berry, Bristol, Helen Francis from WJEC will also be providing an update and there are a wide range of workshops available throughout the day including Make-and-take a hand held strobe; the BBC Micro:bit; Wow Physics, Rotation, Physics for breakfast and dinner, the Electromagnetic spear and many others.
The Conference is free of charge and you are also encouraged to bring technicians with you as we will be offering workshops specifically for them during the day.
Venue Cymru, Llandudno: 7-8 October
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff: 21-22 October
Wales’ largest interactive careers and skills event is coming to Llandudno and Cardiff in October.
These highly interactive events welcome over 100 organisations who inspire up to 10,000 visitors, providing them with the vast range of career opportunities available as well as the routes to get there.
Biology Week 2016
Saturday 8 – Sunday 16 October
Biology Week showcases the important and amazing world of the biosciences, getting everyone from children to professional biologists involved in fun and interesting life science activities. Find out what’s happening near you or organise your own activity
Effective STEM Engagement
National Museum of Wales Cardiff. Saturday 19 November 10am – 2.30pm
Inspirational lectures and workshops for Primary and Secondary Teachers that aim to address the address the new science and technology curriculum.
Join Professor Averil Macdonald OBE to discuss the myths and facts about why girls do and don’t choose STEM and find out about a new approach to show that STEM is for ‘People Like Me’.
Bring science to life for your students with practical science demonstrations from Wendy Sadler—Science Made Simple – that are accessible to all and learn how they can help develop higher thinking skills in your classroom.
- Practical Primary Science—Louise Stubberfield, Wellcome Trust
- Wriggling through Numeracy & Literacy— National Museum Cardiff
- A Literacy Approach to Science—Glen Gilchrist CSCJES
- Splendiferous Science—Techniquest
- Accessing Real Science—Sue Diment, Cardiff University
- Coding for Science—Laura Roberts, Technocamps
Back to topBritish Science Festival – Swansea University
Europe’s longest standing national event, the four-day British Science Festival, organised by the British Science Association and Swansea University, was held at the University’s Singleton Park campus from Tuesday 6 to Friday 9 September.
The festival was followed by a family fringe weekend featuring an array of activities, workshops and hands-on family fun at the National Waterfront Museum and surrounding venues.
Thousands of visitors experienced an exciting range of talks, debates, performances, tours and workshops on campus and across the city from morning into the night. Hundreds of leading scientists from all around the world came together to showcase the latest in science and technology in the free public events which were open to everyone.
Academics from the university talked about the healing role of maggots, the relationship between sleep, dreaming and memory, the study of demonology and the story behind the £3 billion underground machine which is unlocking the secrets of the universe. Alumnus Lyn Evans talked about his 47 years at CERN after graduating from Swansea with a PhD in Physics. Honorary Fellow George Abbey was also in conversation discussing his work at NASA.
The British Science Festival is an event designed to inspire everyone about how extraordinary science is and how pervasive it is in our lives. It has provided a fabulous opportunity to put Swansea University and its work on the world stage.