Science has always excited and intrigued children. From planets to volcanoes, it’s a great subject to catch their attention. However, along with subjects like maths and technology, it isn’t often seen by children as something to aspire to themselves, especially amongst those who don’t have access to the great technology, tools, and role models that are in the science and art sectors.
Carole Kenrick is looking to remedy this. As one of the 2016 London Teachers Innovation Fund winners, SHINE is supporting Carole to further develop her STEAM Hubs – networks of teachers collaborating to plan and lead STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) clubs and teacher CPD. As her school’s resident scientist, Carole has been developing children’s identities as scientists and innovators through her own successful Lab_13 hub. Lab_13 is a space for experimenting, inventing, researching and investigation managed by children and driven by their curiosity.
With her grant from SHINE, Carole is making the model of her hub available to more schools, giving Teachers the training and support to set up their own STEAM clubs and to plan continued professional development tailored to their Teachers’ needs. With the aim of helping children not only enjoy STEAM subjects, but see them as a viable career option for themselves, the STEAM Hub clubs cover one STEAM subject a week. The students then culminate in a final STEAM “challenge” that requires them to apply the knowledge, skills and processes from the different STEAM subjects to solve a problem. The children taking part are given activities by the Teachers leading the STEAM Hub – these teachers have received the training and support from Carole. The Teachers are encouraged to take a personal interest in the children’s identity as Scientists, Engineers, Mathematicians and Artists. This engagement seeds and nurtures the students’ positive view of themselves, and of the STEAM subjects as a potential option for their future education or career.
For the technology week, the children used electrical circuits to turn carrots into a musical keyboard. And during maths week they used toilet paper to create a scale model of the solar system in the playground!
The children are also encouraged to build their scientific identity whilst at home, with activities that they can do with their families. For the science focused week, the students used red cabbage in water to test pH levels. They were then challenged to make a rainbow of colours in the red cabbage water by testing the acid and alkaline levels of items in their own homes. The children responded to this and the other activities with much enthusiasm, and have requested more educational investigations and challenges that they can do at home with their families.
As well as developing aspirations in science, the hubs have also been helping children with their social skills. With different schools feeding into each hub, children are encouraged to work with new children on activities like building paper towers, and have quickly discovered that teamwork is the most effective way of solving the challenges set for them.
Carole will use her grant to build a network of STEAM Hubs collaborating on clubs and CPD, and develop training and resources for Teachers.