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STEM fun at Gilnahirk PS!


The Year 1 primary students whose Area of Specialism is science had a wonderful morning sharing their exciting science activities with the Nursery, P2 and P4 pupils at Gilnahirk Primary School in east Belfast.

Leigh McQuaid and Becky Marcus report on their work with Nursery children on a water wall:

‘We provided a group of fifteen nursery children with an interactive water wall.  The wall contained a range of recycled funnels, cartons, tubes, and watering cans.  Each child was given a collection of various sized containers which they could fill with water and decide which parts of the wall to pour the water through.  This proved very successful and the children’s decision-making became apparent.  As some parts of the wall were higher than others, the children were able to use a step to reach the funnels at the top and this created an element of excitement.  The children greatly enjoyed the activity and loved making a mess splashing and pouring!  They chatted excitedly about what they were doing and it was a great success, as became clear when the children said they wanted to keep the wall!’

Fellow students Victoria Halley and Anna Welsh describe how they made the science fun and challenged the children to think by designing marbe runs:

‘We provided our class with resources such as tubes, guttering, tunnels, boxes of varying sizes and sandbags.  The aim was to task the children with building a giant marble run structure for balls of varying sizes and materials. One of the children stated “the heavier balls move fastest”.  From observing and interacting with the children it was clear they were thoroughly enjoying and learning from the exercise.  The hands-on approach stimulated their curiosity and imagination.  Through trial and error the children developed a clear understanding of how the weight of the ball and the gradient of a slope affected the velocity of the ball.  It was a fun and interactive learning time!’

Finally Benjamin McAllister and Emma-Jayne Wright explain how they set the science in an exciting context - electrical circuits:

‘We helped the children to grasp a basic understanding of how electricity moves by passing balls around a circle to represent electrons.  We then asked one child to be a light and another a buzzer in this human circuit.  We reinforced this concept by using an energy stick, which the children loved! Next we posed a problem: a letter from Santa asking for our help to create a circuit to give light in his workshop and a circuit with a buzzer to stop thieves from taking toys from his giant toy box! Using the resources which were provided, the children were keen to make their circuits with a light and a buzzer.  Following the practical activities the children were able to explain how their circuits worked with electricity passing through.  They thoroughly enjoyed this activity and said that their favourite part was to get the bulb to light and the buzzer to work in order to help Santa solve his problem!’

Lecturer Mrs Diane McClelland felt that the event was a huge success and added: ‘A sincere thanks to the Principal, Mr Corbett, and the staff and pupils of Gilnahirk Primary School for making us so welcome.  We had a wonderful morning and it was such an affirmation for the students to see all of their hard work in planning and creating valuable STEM activities which provided such worthwhile learning experiences for the children.”
The students are participating in the Stranmillis Student Teachers’ College degree enhancement and as part of their accreditation will be sharing their resources and experiences with peers and external science stakeholders at a STEM Celebration event on Wednesday 13th December (1:00pm) in TEL 1 & 2, so please come along if you want to find out more!

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