June 14th / Last Wednesday, everyone in Year 8 took part in a “STEM Day” (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).  Alice, Emilia and Aoife tell us what they all got up to …

This was a fantastic day, where all of us had to overcome various challenges in order to build a bridge from spaghetti!  Beforehand, we were grouped with people from different forms and allocated a Science Lab for the day.  We were also lucky enough to have people from the STEM organisation come and visit us. They were a huge help and helped us to think about whether our bridges would really work.  As well as this, we were also set the task of making a poster explaining how bridges are structured, complete with drawings and graphs.

When we arrived in the morning, we were greeted by a member of the Science department and began working on our challenges.  We viewed a powerpoint and watched a video explaining how to make spaghetti bridges, before making a start ourselves.  At first we found it extremely difficult because the spaghetti was fragile so it broke easily and we had to learn how to use the glue gun without burning ourselves.  Thankfully, we soon picked up the technique and produced some amazing bridges.  My group did this by creating several triangles for the sides and a base before gluing them together.  Everyone had to overcome many challenges, including how we managed our equipment.  We were limited in the equipment we had and if we used any extra we were penalised.  We also had to work with people we don’t normally work with so it took some time to figure out who was good at what.

After over 3 hours of design and construction, we had all produced our bridges and in lesson 4 they were put to the test.   This was done by adding sand to a bag hanging from the bridge,  and seeing how well the bridge held up.  Some bridges broke as soon as they were placed on the chairs (which were 50 cm apart), while other bridges did manage to hold some weight.  Very few bridges managed to hold a lot of weight, and the designers of those few were the people who came out on top!  The winning bridge in our class was able to hold 810 grams of sand before it collapsed.

At the end of the day we presented our posters and the winner from each separate class will go on to complete against the rest of the year, and possibly win themselves a prize!

But where does STEM come from? S stands for Science and this was incorporated when we had to find out how bridges were made. T stands for Technology and this was included when we had to build the bridges out of 500g of spaghetti. E stands for Engineering and this was incorporated when we viewed a power point and the bridge making. M stands for Maths and this was included by weighing our bridges, finding out ratios and solving some tricky problems! Doing this helped us learn much about ourself and each other.  Throughout the day, we improved our communication, teamwork and logic skills.   We were encouraged to think outside the box and work on our teamwork skills.

Overall, the day was hugely enjoyable for everyone and let us explore the possibility of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths as a future career choice.  We hope every Year 8 to come will get the chance to do this.  A huge thank you to all the Science staff and STEM day company visitors!

Fascinating Fact: Did you know the first ever spaghetti bridge competition took place in Hungary?

Here are some pictures from the day.  Click on any image to enlarge it and/or view a slide show.