RS STEMfest 2019
As a STEM Ambassador in the UK, I was keen to support RS Components’ inaugural STEMFest event last week – and it was so much fun I was very pleased I did!
Over the first two days, we welcomed groups of local school children and their teachers into the business and took them on a time-tabled tour of a variety of attractions and learning talks. Well over 500 primary and secondary children came and took part in the event, with many RS people supporting various elements that culminated in a fantastic and engaging experience for the kids.
I had the absolute pleasure of being a school leader for Green Oaks Primary Academy, Northampton. The children, ranging from Years 3 to 6, were immaculately behaved throughout a long and busy day – a credit to their school. It was a delight to work with them through the various challenges and activities.
We started off with ‘DrilleRS’, letting the children get their hands on some power drills (under scrupulous supervision of course!) The kids fixed a number of screws into a soft board and used yarn to create their own pieces of art.
We then headed out to the Exhibition Area, where they got to meet people from the IET, Igus, 3M, XinaBox and more, try out some cutting-edge products, see robotics in action, sit in a Porsche Boxter and check out the First Lego League.
We also had the opportunity to head onboard the seriously impressive Titan II, our very-own ‘Transformer’ truck, to try some virtual reality, see 3D printing in action and put their skills to the test with some dexterity challenges – just to note, the girls won – Go, girls!
The children had a well-deserved sit-down whilst enjoying some face-paced and thought-provoking talks on a range of subjects, including Simon Watt exploring Astronomy in a fabulously interactive session; plus 'Staying Safe Online' for junior school ages and 'Social Engineering' for secondary level kids.
The creepiest part of our timetable – during which I had to hold some giant invertebrates and try not to show the kids that I was more than a little freaked out – was our visit to CritteRS!
We (I!) held stick insects, giant millipedes, cockroaches and enormous snails, and (thankfully!) just looked at the scorpions and tarantulas.
One of the children’s favourite activities was Custard Run, which they cleverly described as oobleck – a new word to me! This was essentially corn starch and water mixed in a large tray to create a non-Newtonian liquid that oozed and squelched between their toes when walking through it slowly but behaved like a solid when they ran quickly across the top – they were effectively running on water!
Sphero Long Jump
We had great fun trying to control these ‘BB8’ type robots and seeing who could jump the furthest! Lots of rolling down steps, giggling and chasing ensued as they learnt to control Sphero with tablet devices.
We rounded off our day with a fun challenge from RS’s web development team, looking at all the different optimisation techniques and tests that some of their favourite sites and games might use to develop and continuously improve. This really gave a flavour of the vast range of specialisms employed in a large web development team and gave the kids some excellent food for thought.
My thanks and gratitude go to the children and staff at Green Oaks Primary Academy – I'm sure I had as much fun as you guys!
The third and final day (Saturday 6th July) was open to the public and attracted over 800 people, with a carnival atmosphere, street food vendors and the RS truck – Titan II – taking centre stage in the Exhibition Area.
Parents brought their children and tried all the aforementioned activities, plus some amazing compliance testing demonstrations, showing us all what NOT to put in microwaves and why; and demonstrating how we test products coming into the RS range.
There was also a chance to test drive the cool new MekaMon robots, with various modes that included ‘Raging Bull’ – see product links on the right if you’d like more info…
All in all, it was an amazing event, made even more rewarding by the surprise and delight on the children’s faces as they explored a whole range of technology and science activities that they previously only seen on YouTube! Huge thanks go to all the team involved in planning this epic event – your hard work was most definitely worthwhile.