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Supporting Brownies and Rainbows with STEM

Published: Aug 6, 2021 3 min read

STEM learning

Schools may be on summer holidays, but that doesn't mean that our STEM Ambassadors are taking a break. A number of them run activities or volunteer at local community groups such as Brownies and Guides. Elise, a STEM Ambassador at RAF Benson tells us about how she supports her local Brownies and Rainbows groups.

My name is Elise and I am a STEM Ambassador at RAF Benson. I support the Brownies and Rainbows groups local to the area.  The groups are run by dedicated teams of individuals from varied backgrounds, but none hail from an engineering profession/education.  I am an Aircraft Technician in my daily life and a University postgraduate.  In that respect, I add an element to the team that would otherwise be lacking and fulfil a representation opportunity that younger girls commonly lack; a “real life” female engineer. 

We have completed the Institute of Physics and the Amey Engineering STEM badges since I joined the group and are in the process of lining up a third.  Issuing the working packs and meeting on Zoom allowed each child the opportunity to carry out experiments themselves and consolidate that learning with their friends.  The children have discovered density, air pressure, weight and moments and forces applied in motion, to name a few basic principles, in applied experiments to gain their badges.  The giggles, squeals and sessions running over their allotted time are a testament to how much they have enjoyed the subjects, but listening to them quoting “Mr. Newton’s laws” or speak about “my hypothesis” has got to be one of my favourite aspects and it never fails to make me smile. A whole new lexicon is opening up to them and being used in an informal and genuinely enjoyable setting.  And all between the ages of seven to ten!

With all the schooling from home, we have undertaken this past eighteen months I have learned that engaging a child’s genuine interest, pitched at the appropriate level, and adding a little flair, truly makes the learning experience magical for them. That in itself is tough to beat!  STEM subjects excel in this arena so that is the model I intend to use.

The project that I am currently working on, and hope to deliver this summer, is based on an investigation into what forces affect a body travelling through the air.  There are few other effective models for this available to a child than a catapult!  And because we can and are so inclined, we are going big.  Current plans show the constructed catapult at a minimum of eight feet in length with the elastic potential of launching a body (water balloon) 300 yards.

There is a very real chance I am more excited than the children!