What is STEAM? A vapour arising from hot water? An industrial form of power or the build-up of anger?!
It’s all of these things but put into an educational context STEAM is a collection of subjects that have been grouped together. Senior school girls learnt this in their first assembly of the year with the help of a video featuring cute children wearing subject themed t-shirts: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.
The school is committed to focusing on these subjects during the forthcoming year and this began with an off timetable Focus Day on Thursday 8th September. Cunningly an extra’E’ has been added to make us unique and so STEAM has become ESTEAM, a play on words that encourages girls to build their own self-esteem and confidence.
As with previous Focus Days all pupils were relieved of their usual timetables and attended sessions led by in house experts (teachers) and a few extra helpers who came along to share their own personal experiences of STEAM. Girls were allowed to wear practical, comfortable clothing so they could get stuck into all the activities and some of the staff, History in particular, were sporting some interesting outfits!
The aim of the day was the help pupils apply creative thinking and practical problem-solving to a range of tasks that had more pronounced cross-curricular links than they might normally be used to.
For example the Maths department focused on order, pattern and colour for its braiding activity whilst Art and Textiles teachers were utilising digital technology to draw animals on IPads. The Performing Arts and PE departments invited girls to use themselves in creative ways and also to build Self Esteem through group work. Humanities and Language based subjects had to be slightly more inventive with the brief but rose to the challenge by creating lessons based upon Technological Inventions.
The Design and Technology and Food and Nutrition teachers treated Year 8 to hands-on sessions in rocket building and bread-making. The Science department invited back old girl Megan (currently completing an Engineering degree) and Gaby to help Year 7 and Year 11 to build and race cars made from scrap materials. Over in the Art Department our guest speaker, Nick Corston from SteamCo brought in a fascinating piece of equipment that turns newspaper into titanium strength STIXX and in a break from the norm the English teachers were simultaneously helping Year 11 to illustrate passages from classic novels.
If this wasn’t enough Mr Buddie had also invited BBC Microbit creator, David Whale, to school to inspire the whole of Year 8 on how to use their new personal piece of technology! Year 10 were also challenged to consider climate change with a talk from Royal Holloway lecturer Danielle Shreve.
The Sixth Form girls started their day by attending careers seminars led by different professionals who work in diverse fields. Sadie Viles was a medical technician at GSK for 20 years and now works for the Motor Neurone Disease charity. Richard Kirby, a local businessman brought in his 3D printer to show the girls a live example whilst Captain Chloe Booty shared her experiences of life in the Armed Forces and how she got there having completed a Masters in Engineering. We were also happy to welcome back Rianna Roston who spoke to girls about her degree in Art History and University life in general. Following this form groups took part in either a Crime Scene Investigation (I still don’t know who the murderer was!) or were invited to challenge their brains and fingers to create complex structures from paper.
After a very busy and warm morning, we were lucky enough to have a live rocket firing from the Lower field and a well-earned lunch! Traditionally the afternoon of Focus Day is always given over to start of term Celebration featuring the entire school, from the Ruspini children who sang songs about Rocket Men and stars through to the most important people; the parents and families sat in the balcony. During the Celebration we saw lots of photos and videos about the morning and joined in with songs and hymns. Our guest speaker took to the stage and after taking a selfie with the entire school from his vantage point at the front, Nick Corston enthusiastically shared the reasons behind his passion for STEAM and summarised the day by speaking of inspirational people such as Lemn Sissay and Elon Musk.
Overall it was an inspiring and eventful day that has hopefully prompted pupils and staff to consider how they can apply skills across the curricular and maybe reconsider their future careers.
A full gallery of images can be see here and you can also view a short video where Mrs Rose explains the importance of STEAM teaching and learning at RMS here