As part of STEM week, Barry Island Primary acting deputy headteacher Dominic Broad recounts his school's visit to NASA in the United States and the importance of promoting STEM skills to primary age learners.
The trip was a week long programme aimed at teaching children what it takes to become an astronaut or scientist. It was organised through ISSET, a company that specialises in inspirational and exciting space trips and workshops.
Barry Island Primary School, St Joseph's Roman Catholic school and Evenlode Primary School worked collaboratively to help the trip take flight. The trip was subsidised by a range of educational companies that are equally as passionate as our schools about providing inspiring opportunities for our learners. (The sponsors were 5-a-day fitness, Scholastic and Cornerstones).
The purpose of the trip was to engage learners in STEM subjects (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) through an unforgettable learning experience. Part of our role as educators is to inspire lifelong learners and present children with opportunities that develop their potential for greatness. This trip was a fantastic opportunity for children to be immersed in college degree talks on physics whilst enjoying the excitement of being around real life astronauts and space shuttles.
The children participated in a range of exciting tasks as part of the junior astronaut training. They learnt the physics behind a rocket launch and the forces acting on your body during our indoor skydive. The children then got to experience this breath-taking experience first-hand. The young thrill seekers were taught to sky dive and put into practice some of the lessons they had been taught in the morning by the highly skilled instructors.
During the visit they were given the opportunity to participate in small group discussions with astronaut, Jon McBride and ex-director of NASA Jay Honeycutt. Both imparted powerful words of wisdom on the young explorers. Both speakers embodied NASA's philosophy of achieving the impossible and talked about their personal journeys from normal school children to the forefront of space travel and engineering. The children asked questions and learnt valuable lessons on perseverance and dedication to achieving your dreams - no matter how unrealistic they may seem.
Throughout the visit they were able to visit behind the scenes at NASA and SeaWorld. From visiting the famous vehicle assembly building and launch pads at Cape Canaveral to shadowing the veterinary staff at SeaWorld to witnessing X-Rays on an alligator and ultrasounds on pregnant dolphins, the message from all staff and speakers the children met was that this amazing experience is an attainable dream for any young person. All it takes is perseverance and a little luck and they could also join the amazing people at SeaWorld and Nasa in their dream jobs.
It was an excellent and unforgettable experience for children to further develop and extend STEM skills and understanding in addition to contributing to personal and social development. The trip inspired children to think about the world in a different context and their own future possibilities. Collaboratively, each school has worked together to create an opportunity that would resonate through the communities and demonstrate that it's not about where you come from, but about where you can go if you apply yourself. The trip was a monumental effort from the staff involved and ISSEt to make this trip a possibility for Primary age children.
Dominic Broad Acting Deputy Head Teacher, Barry Island Primary School.