This project involved students across OAT academies undertaking social action projects and competitions relating to STEM. The theme of STEMFest was social action and finding solutions through STEM to problems that affect student’s local communities.
Overall, 25 STEM-focused social action projects were submitted, 11 academies took part with over 70 students from years 7-10. 10 student teams took part in the national final on May 10th with a judging panel made up of Science RLPS, OAT enrichment team and STEM industry professionals. Two winners and runners up from Key Stage 3 and 4 were announced with the winning schools receiving winners’ shields, medals and cash prizes.
Other successes of the project were 5 industry workshops occurring focused on STEM careers, Lasser200 committing to being the sponsor for the 2021/22 STEMFest project, and a pilot curriculum being launched at Ormiston Bushfield Academy for year 7 and year 8 as a result of the project.
Challenges and Lessons Learnt
The biggest issue for the project was the impact of COViD-19 on schools. Due to restrictions within academies and limited access to enrichment activity during the promotion and delivery of the project, the target of engaging 20 academies in the final competition and reaching 300 young people through the competition was not met.
COVID-19 also impacted academies engagement with the STEM career workshops. Although academies showed interest and signed up for the workshops, none of the workshops were attended by any schools. The sessions were recorded and are now available on the STEMFest website, but this was a very disappointing result for the team behind the project. The STEM team are now assessing the need or requirements of this area of the project and are working on an alternative plan, for STEM engagement with professionals and career focus.
Lessons learned from the project included having one window for submitting the full project rather than first submitting a proposal as this will allow more projects to go to completion and have a greater social impact. Another lesson is more time and effort on tracking, monitoring and evaluation throughout project delivery with staff and students and keeping accurate records of developments throughout the project.
Student feedback quotes- suggested fun activities to do in STEM:
- “Science experiments that involve making others aware of climate change and how to reduce pollution.”
- “Building STEM robots”
- “Create things that use STEM.”