STEM Clubs: bridging the gap between primary and secondary school
Jackie Flaherty is an ESERO-UK Space Ambassador, Director of STEM at Chipping Campden School and an Ogden Trust Teacher Fellow. We chatted to her about her experience of setting up a STEM Club and the journey the club has been on over the last six years.
What motivated you to start a STEM Club?
I was lucky to be part of the Tim Peake Primary Project in the role of Space Ambassador back in 2012. On the back of the success of this project, I received funding to further develop my school’s STEM Club.
We started running a Space Club for key stage 2 pupils based within a primary school. The model has progressed and we now invite primary pupils to the Phiz Lab in our secondary school. We train sixth formers as Student Ambassadors to lead our physics club which is even more exciting.
Why did you develop a STEM Club?
I was keen to develop the science communication skills and confidence of my A level students and the concept of peer mentoring appealed to me.
It’s been a huge success and other departments and schools have since used our model to improve or even start up a new club. Within our partnership of schools, we developed two new clubs; maths and computing on the back of our successful Ogden Trust Physics Club model.
What are the benefits of working with secondary schools and recruiting sixth formers to lead your club?
Our primary pupils are given the chance to carry out activities in different facilities and settings, with equipment they wouldn’t always have access to. Linking with secondary schools has also been invaluable because it helps make the transition from key stage 2 to key stage 3 smoother for the pupils.
We currently have ten Student Ambassadors (sixth formers) that volunteer to lead a club. In return, they gain skills in confidence, planning and teaching. They can also use this experience to work towards CREST Awards.
Do you have any activities coming up that you are excited about?
We are kicking off a six-week programme exploring space. We hope to have 100 people attend the Moon gazing club’s launch event, including pupils, teachers and, more excitingly, parents.
We are grateful to have received funding from the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers which has allowed us to buy some binoculars for astronomy activities and some telescope kits for the STEM Club.
This is the first event that parents have been invited and it has been really well received by all. It really enforces the concept that building on young people’s science capital increases their engagement with science.
Find out more
STEM Clubs Week is taking place from 5-10 February 2018 and aims to celebrate all the wonderful, fun, stimulating and creative work clubs do across the UK.