04 Jun 2024

Local Schools Unite for Leighton Park's Hands-On STEAMfest Humanitarian Challenge

On 23 May, Leighton Park hosted their annual STEAMfest. This year, more than two 250 children from seven area schools attended the event, which highlights the importance of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) in every child’s education.

In recent years, the rise in STEM jobs has exceeded all forecasts in the UK with almost 3 million workers employed in a STEM occupation. Research shows that studying STEM goes beyond the initial benefits and has been proven to increase literacy and comprehension skills in pupils attending secondary school.

During an event that merged education and compassion, the young minds embarked on a remarkable journey to explore how STEAM can be a powerful ally in addressing humanitarian crises. The theme, Helping in a Humanitarian Crisis, resonated deeply, igniting a sense of purpose and ingenuity within each participant. Pupils tackled hands-on challenges to build a storm-proof shelter, transport essential aid on a raft and move clean water as efficiently as possible using tarpaulins.

Alex Wallace, Deputy Head, told attendees, ‘Our other aims of today are to get you thinking about problem-solving, working in groups and collaborating with each other, because in the real world skills of teamwork are so very important’.

‘I love STEAMfest because I like to do lots of fun activities and help people. It’s also great to design your own things and be creative and have to think about the activities and how you will achieve each goal’, shared a year 5 pupil who attended the event.

The visiting schools were organised into three distinct sessions: Southcote Primary first, followed by Peppard Primary, New Christchurch Primary and Thameside Primary, with Maltman’s Green, Highfield Prep and Trinity Christian School in the final session. Each school split into smaller teams of five students and were each supported by Leighton Park Academic and Sports scholars.

Shelter building was filled with squeals of laughter as the children endured the strong storm, which was created by Jeff Fuller, DT teacher, brandishing a hose! The teams were each given a selection of objects and materials including wooden posts, plastic tubing, bungees, long rope and pieces of tarpaulin, from which they could use their imagination and iterative design to construct their shelters. When the storm came, the ultimate test was to see if any team members got wet.

Meanwhile, Rachel Milhofer, a chemistry teacher, ran a session about transporting essential aid, in the form of eggs, on a raft. The students were challenged to think creatively and build a raft using only marshmallows and spaghetti that would be capable of floating even when the weight of eggs was added.

The third and final station involved the transportation of water between two buckets using tarpaulins, rope, bungees, and sticks challenged by Sam Bates, Biology teacher. Forces and momentum were key, and several teams learned valuable lessons about gravity, proving to be a great introduction to STEAM as combining cross-curricular activity, problem-solving and creativity.

At Leighton Park, our innovative approach to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) places real emphasis on harnessing our students’ creative talents and blending them with skills in critical thinking, creative problem solving, entrepreneurship and leadership as part of our vibrant interdisciplinary curriculum. We challenge our students to apply these skills to real-world problems facing industry and society today and it is a pleasure to introduce these skills to the local community before senior school. With our explicit focus on creativity, we give girls and boys everything they need to take an idea and make it fly.