STEPS: Science and Technology Enrichment for Primary Schools

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Physics


Transport forms an integral part of our everyday life and the important part it plays is recognised by all of us. Force is often a difficult and abstract concept to both understand and to teach in primary school and it is a topic which is revisited in Year 2, Year 4 and Year 6. In STEPS, the concept of Forces will be introduced and reinforced using links to Transport. With this theme STEPS will show the importance of Science and Engineering in all of our lives to primary school students.The Science Communication Unit has strong links with local museums, STEPS will work with these institutions and tap into the expertise and facilities they have to offer to formulate valuable partnerships.In essence the project will consist of the development and delivery of two types of activity to engage students. These activities will be delivered in three levels.Activitiesi) Interactive PresentationsThese will be exciting, lively, 1 hour shows designed for presentation to between 1 and 4 classes at one time. There will be elements of a traditional demonstration lecture together with performance.ii) Challenge WorkshopsThese will be half day workshops for a single class. They will involve hands-on activities with both constructive and creative elements and the children will work in small groups to design, develop and build a model to meet a defined challenge. The children will also use their creative skills and imagination to develop and communicate their ideas about a particular topic. Various different creative genres will be used including acting and role play, painting, sculpture and creative writing.Schools will be encouraged to receive an integrated package. This will start with a Museum Visit and lead up to a STEPS Showcase, when a culmination of the children's work is presented to family and friends, and will also include a presentation by members of the project team. In this situation, as well as the specific interventions, ongoing support will be on offer in preparation for the STEPS Showcase. At the end of STEPS the best students and their work will be selected and invited to a STEPS Gala Performance to be delivered as part of the Liverpool: European Capital of Culture, 2008 celebrations.Levelsa) We Invented the Wheel (Years 1&2)This topic is centred on wheels. The Interactive Presentation will take the form of a story-telling and role play session. It is based on the idea that the wheel could have been invented by a group of children in the early Bronze Age in their quest to move a rock from the entrance to their cave. Problem solving using scientific principles is the underlying theme. This topic will lend itself to more wheel-based making activities in the Challenge Workshop with wheels for vehicles and in water wheels and wind mills and also depicted in artwork.b) Balloons, Balance and Blast-Off (Years 3&4)This Interactive Presentation will introduce scientific method and the need to ask why? It will include demonstrations of self-inflating balloons and other spectacular demonstrations at low temperatures. A discussion of balance follows and the final part leads on to air and water rocket demonstrations. There are clearly many possibilities for developing related activities for the Challenge Workshop such as producing a balloon-powered car or a cantilever bridge and also associated creative and performing artwork to help students physically represent forces and motion.c) Forces Everywhere (Years 5&6)This Interactive Presentation will be based on forces in relation to various forms of transport and how different forces can be used for solving engineering problems. The roles of scientists and engineers in Transport and Forces will be central. Again there are many possibilities for constructive and creative activities in the Challenge Workshop.A Stand-Alone STEPS Pack will be produced which will include all of the activities used in the project and provide appropriate legacy.


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