Imagine! STEM Club

Launch report of Imagine!

The Imagine! STEM Club is a new CSES/ARU event for school students and young people

The inaugural launch of the Imagine! STEM Club took place at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) Chelmsford campus over three days (29-31 July 2019). Over twenty students aged between 12 and 15 attended with an approximate 50% male-female ratio.

CSES Imagine! STEM Club was conceived and planned in consultation with ARU and Essex County Council (ECC) with the aim of promoting STEM learning and career options to young local school students and home-schooled students. CSES Council Member Bob Easby drafted the programme together with Professor David Humber from ARU, who were keen to show off their new £4 Million SuperLab, and Ed Bye, a CSES member who works with Schools and ECC providing specialist STEM support. The interactive practical sessions were delivered in the SuperLab by David Humber, Bob himself and Paul Cotton the SuperLab Manager at ARU, with some additional help and support from some enthusiastic ARU Ambassadors.

Students undertaking urine analysis in the SuperLab
Students undertaking urine analysis in the SuperLab 

Students experienced some biochemistry by undertaking 'urine' analysis, investigated bacteria culturing of their hand before and after washing and found that the washing technique is important as in some cases more bacteria was found after washing than before. Also they investigated the effects of sun cream SPF by coating special UV-reactive beads and placing them in sunlight and timing how long it took for a colour change to occur. 

Student providing sample for bacteria experiment in SuperLab.
Student providing sample for bacteria experiment in SuperLab.
Students timing and observing reaction of UV sensitive beads coated in sun cream
Students timing and observing reaction of UV-sensitive beads coated in sun cream

Following the scientific experiments the focus shifted towards engineering and the students investigated buoyancy by floating a tomato in different concentrations of salt water. After this they performed an experiment adding small quantities of sand to a test tube floating in salt water until it sunk and plotted a graph finding a linear relationship. 

Students altering salt water concentrations to float tomato at different heights
Students altering salt water concentrations to float a tomato at different heights
Students investigating buoyancy by adding sand to make floating test tube sink
Students investigating buoyancy by adding sand to make floating test tube sink

The engineering and construction of structures was also studied through experiments with spaghetti and jelly!

Spaghetti and Jelly baby tower construction
Spaghetti and jelly baby tower construction

The last day was dedicated to team building of a 'flying fish' from a kit to make a large radio-controlled model based on a helium-filled balloon. After construction each team attempted to fly their fish round a circuit.

Students making ‘flying fish’
Students making flying fish
Completed fish on maiden flight
Completed fish on maiden flight

Finally all students were presented with an attendance certificate. 

The Students with their Certificates together with Ed, David and Bob (left to right in the background)
The students with their certificates together with Ed, David and Bob (left to right in the background)

Conclusion

The resounding success of the Imagine! STEM Club demonstrates that there is a demand for STEM learning outside of school. The students were lively, engaged and all had much enjoyable fun. The event was a practical learning exercise for both students and the team.

Student feedback was unanimously positive, revealing an appetite for more such Imagine! STEM events. Interests spanned many topics from space, IT and maths to music, neurological science and architecture. Students were also very impressed with the SuperLab facilities with comments such as: "Amazing facilitates", "Impressive", "Excellent", "Unique", "Cool", "Very Hi-Tech", "Modern and advanced”.

Thanks to all involved with the planning, preparation and delivery of this inaugural Imagine! STEM Club event, especially the wonderful ARU Student Ambassadors and staff who assisted. CSES gratefully acknowledge Professor David Humber and ARU for the use of the wonderful SuperLab and other facilities, and ECC for their financial support and assistance.

The Future

CSES together with ARU plan to offer further Imagine! STEM events. Register your interest via the Imagine! STEM Club application form. CSES is the hub for STEM in Essex.

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