Our Year 10 gifted and talented students have taken part in a day-long challenge devoted to STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) designing, building and testing models as part of the ‘Mission to Mars’ project.
There were six teams and everyone was assigned their own role. They had to work together and individually on a series of challenges and the focus was on teamwork and problem solving. Tasks included building items including a launcher that was tested by being launched across the classroom carrying an egg, designed to simulate a Mars crew. As well as collaborating on their designs the students also had to manage their team budgets and they accumulated points throughout the day. The session ended with an interactive quiz before Team Japan were named as the winners, alongside Lillian Williams who scored the highest individual mark.
The training was led by Matt Hackett by Thinking in Education. He said: ‘The focus is always on STEM skills as there is a shortage in the UK. 75 per cent of the jobs that are going to be available to this generation are thought, by the government, to be in STEM and the employers that we work with agree that these sort of skills are in demand. The students were given different sorts of challenges which tested their ability to apply ideas, use existing knowledge and be creative in their problem solving. The biggest element is teamwork because if they fail to work as a team they can’t possibly win the competition.
‘Brooke Weston has a long history of getting top scores in this competition every year and it has one of the top ten scores of all time so there was the added pressure for this group to do well. These tasks also involve business management. A lot of the STEM skills are very similar to the enterprise skills. One of the things that businesses we work with look for is people who can cope under pressure, solve the problems and do it cost effectively. ’
Teacher Paul Knight said: ‘It is all skills-based using concepts that are needed in industry. Each team has had to choose a chemist, biologist, a physicist as well as a team leader. It is a very intense but rewarding challenge and the fact that Brooke Weston students consistently perform well has given this cohort something to aspire to. ’
Here are a few comments from some of the students that took part:
Jessica Quach said: 'I really enjoyed Target Mars, I learnt how to work as a team with other people I wouldn’t usually work with. I also found how to work under pressure, how to work creatively and logically. I also enjoyed the games where I put my knowledge to the test at the end of every round.'
Ross Patterson said: 'The event was fun as it was a very interactive day. It made using science fun, but also helped educate me.'
Individual winner Lillian Williams said: 'I enjoyed working with new people. I also enjoyed the quizzes with the handsets as it was exciting and unlike anything I have done before.'
Peter Sammons said: ' It was very well organised with much thought and planning going into each section of the day. Doing a whole day of science was very beneficial covering every subject.'
Matthew Ellis said: 'The activities have been very engaging and fun to take part in. This is a very good way to learn new things, which I have. The activities were varied and required lots of skills in order to complete them effectively.'
Lauren Coull said: 'I enjoyed the pace and creativeness of the day and the fact that learning was involved with a ‘real life’ situation. The resources were really organised which helped with the pace. I especially liked the quiz games with the controller as it was interactive and competitive. The creativity/construction section also made me enjoy physics/engineering as we were determined to get a result. Overall the day was very exciting.'