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INVOLVE: Demo Day at Lydiard Park Academy

On the 14th March 2017, Sixth former and Villiers Park Scholar, Kate Rayment hosted an event to engage younger students in science, as part of British Science Week activities.

Kate organised the event as part of a Villiers Park INVOLVE initiative, where Villiers Park Scholars partake in Educational outreach projects in their own schools. Following on from a short project planning session, with Julie Kiddier, her learning mentor and Cerian Lye-Owens, INVOLVE Facilitator, Kate set to work on planning a demo day activity designed to engage younger Lydiard Park Academy students in Science and get them thinking about a future career in STEM.

After looking through various different demos on the Demo Day website, Kate decided on a demonstration where Year 8 students could take part in making their own bouncy balls. Kate liaised with the Science department and organised everything from ordering the Boric Acid she would need for the demo, to the room and the students who would be participating in this event. On the day, whilst Kate was setting up the room assisted by Naeema and Eden, she also gave an enthusiastic interview to BBC Wiltshire Radio, about why she had been motivated to organise this event and why she felt it was so important to get the younger students interested in STEM.

Kate had prepared a power point which included instructions for the Year 8s to follow for the demo and after showing them what they needed to do, they were allowed to try it out for themselves. The room was split into three groups, making in pairs, either a small, medium or large bouncy ball. The Year 8s then tested how high the balls would bounce, recording the results and playing it back in slow motion so that they could analyse whether there was a relationship between the mass of the ball and the height it bounced.

Following a short break, Kate and her friends were then joined by three guest speakers for the second half of the session. Dr. Sean Elvidge, postdoctoral fellow from the University of Birmingham enlightened the Year 8s about the academic route he had taken to his current job and the kind of questions his work raises on a daily basis, such as; ‘how to bring the space station back down to earth without risking human lives?’ Keerthi Nagaraj, Control Systems Engineer, Schlumberger, shared with the students the places she has been able to visit through her STEM career and encouraged the students to take up a programming language and to use the resources on the internet to solve problems and make new technology in their spare time. Finally Duncan Young, Principal Consultant Optima Group UK and former Royal Logistic Corp Bomb disposal Officer, shared with the students, the different career path he had experienced, leaving school at 16 and joining the British Army. This alternative route into a STEM related career surprised many of the students and they were impressed how this led to him eventually ending up as a top Bomb Disposal Expert, retaking his A levels and doing a degree in Chemistry and Physics, paid for by the British Army.

It was then the turn of the Year 8s who impressed the experts with their fearless questioning, ranging from; “How do you stop satellites in space crashing into each other?” to “Where would we be without science?”.

Enthused by the event, Dr. Sean Elvidge remarked; “I think the idea of Sixth form students organising and running STEM events for younger students is a fantastic one. The session today was expertly run by Kate, Naemma and Eden. Not only were they very professional, but what they had planned was clearly well received. The year 8 students had a great time, they were fully engaged from the first minute to the last. Hopefully this can serve as an example and springboard for other schools to implement similar ideas.”

The aim of the event was to get students interested and having fun with Science and from the fantastic feedback this was definitely achieved. One student went as far as to describe it as “The best 2 hours of Science ever!” and out of the 30 students that attended the event, 19 said that they were now interested in pursuing a career in science.

Kate was “over the moon with how well it went.” and was thrilled that the Science department were now going to plan more demos for the students. Well done Kate on an extremely successful INVOLVE Project.