STEM coding workshops
Hyett Education provide a series of STEM workshops that allow students to learn about engineering and robotics, and gain core computing skills. We asked them to tell us more about how their workshops can help teach our children increasingly important skills.
Can you give us an overview of STEMbotics and why it may be of interest to teachers of computing, Design and Technology and other STEM subjects?:
STEMbotics gives students a meaningful introduction to the world of STEM by providing them with opportunities to design, build and code their own unique robotic solutions to a variety of challenges. We deliver age-appropriate tasks and challenges to KS1 & KS2 using LEGO WeDo 2.0 and use the more advanced LEGO EV3s to work with UKS2, KS3 & KS4.
How long have you been involved with teaching STEM in schools, and how did you get started in the subject?
I worked for 5 years in the classroom as a primary school teacher and Computing coordinator, before joining a local authority as an Education Technology Consultant. I worked with over 50 schools to train teachers how to use technology effectively in the classroom with a focus on embedding Computing across the curriculum and helping schools achieve ICT Mark. I was also a judge on a city-wide Digital Learning panel which celebrated the work produced by students across the city.
I left the local authority in 2018 to setup Hyett Education to spend more of my time focussing on STEM because it's what I enjoy doing most. It’s just great fun - I now have a valid excuse to play with LEGO as an adult.
I'm really proud that in a short space of time we've proven the quality of our work and become Royal Air Force STEM Education Partners working with schools on their behalf all over the UK.
The team is made up of teachers, former and current senior leaders and an aeronautical engineer all with a passion for STEM so schools know they're getting high quality personnel working with their students.
What coding language will children use in the workshops and what level of competency are they required to have? Would the workshop be suitable for primary level key stages for example?
Students mostly use LEGO’s native block-coding software. For WeDo that’s suited to KS1 & KS2, and for EV3 that’s suited to UKS2 and beyond. However, for those KS3 & KS4 students that require further challenge and have experience with complex coding, we also deliver in Swift (the language used to create apps for iPhones, iPads and Macs). Our sessions and challenges are tailored to the needs of the students, and we’re always happy to make changes as required.
How hands-on can the students get, or is your STEMbotics workshop more of a tutor led demonstration in what is possible?
Hands-on. All hands-on. The learning is very tangible. Students end sessions with a physical creation they can hold and see move etc. The whole idea of STEMbotics is to provide students with opportunities to get creative and learn by experimenting and adjusting their own designs.We provide the equipment and are available to help and offer expert advice, but the outcomes belong entirely to the children. We'll see such incredible variety in designs from the same brief so it's fascinating to see the solutions students come up with.
How long does the workshop typically last? Can schools make it into a multi session workshop?
Our range of workshops and challenges is quite extensive. We can work with one class for a full day or we can deliver sessions as short as an hour (4-5 groups per day). In KS1 & KS2 we can work with up to 150 students per day, and in KS3 we can see up to 240 students per day. In KS4 we prefer to work with up to 60 per day as the designs are often more complex and require plenty of time to build.
Do schools need to provide any materials, computers, or open space in order to facilitate your workshops?
We bring all the kit but access to a projector/screen for modelling is useful - although we can bring our own if required. We work in the classroom for WeDo 2.0 STEMbotics, and generally require a larger space like the school hall or a portion of a sports hall to deliver the EV3 STEMbotics challenges. We have large challenge mats that the students use as a coding course so the bigger the space, the better.
As well as computer literacy, what other curriculum links are involved, and what skills does the STEMbotics workshop help develop in students?
We’ve had students build robots linked to literacy themes (Iron Man by Ted Hughes) and we’ve used robots to experiment with friction and forces in science. I'm a big fan of cross-curricular links, so we encourage schools to talk to us and we’ll see how we can adapt our sessions accordingly.
What other STEM themed workshops do you offer? There’s quite a few.
STEMdrones is a popular choice for UKS2, KS3 & KS4. Students code drones to fly around an indoor course using block coding or Swift. We also get them doing coordinated drone dances and tricks. It’s very WOW! I’m also a CAA approved drone pilot so can offer students an insight into drone safety and the practice of flight in the real world.
STEMgineers: RC Challenge and Electric Go Kart Challenge are better suited to KS3 & KS4 students. Students build a radio-controlled electric vehicle or full-size electric go-kart capable of driving at around 25mph. Getting hands on teaches students about gearing, steering mechanisms and suspension systems, plus it’s great for developing tool-handling skills. They’ll also have good fun driving them around after completion too so it's a pretty unique experience.
STEMgineers: Hydraulics teaches KS2 and KS3 students how hydraulic systems work by getting them to build an actuation system to lower and retract an aircraft’s landing gear, and also adjust the ailerons and flaps on an aircraft. It’s a nice introduction to engineering.
Minecraft Education. We deliver themed sessions that involve students using Minecraft to find solutions. For example, one challenge involves students building properties and applying their knowledge of the four operations to calculate building costs and potential sales profits. We also worked with some students who built the human body and create a virtual tour of the digestive system. We've use it to also engage students in writing and other curriculum areas beyond STEM, and it’s incredibly popular with the students. They love it.
Finally, we also do 3D Printing and CAD workshops in KS1-KS3 that teach children the basics of designing products in 3D. They’ll get opportunities to see a 3D printer in action and we can send a 3D printing of the best design back to school after the event.
If you are interested in hearing a bit more about how Hyett Education can help you organise coding and STEM focused workshops then why not get in touch here.
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