Clifton College Preparatory School held a special Mars-themed STEM day for pupils.
The co-educational independent school challenged pupils to take part in an exploratory mission to Mars, with specific year groups assigned different tasks that would promote independent ideas and problem-solving skills.
Pupils were separated into teams and given a tailored brief which would encourage them to think creatively, grow their problem solving skills, and garner an understanding of financing a large scale project. The tasks ranged from constructing paper rockets using materials paid for through allocated credits, to testing different systems in order to purify grey.
Year 4 built paper rockets to launch their explorers to Mars, while Year 5 created landers and rovers which were tested by dropping the landers off the roof of a boarding house. Year 6 were in charge of ablative shielding. They used a blow torch against an egg for three minutes with a very thin shield in between and had to find a way to help the egg resist breaking. Year 7 tested different systems to purify grey water and make it suitable for human consumption, and Year 8 designed a Martian base.
Following completion of the assigned challenges, teams were then tasked with presenting their findings to a board of teachers in order to amass funding for their proposed ideas.
To get a better understanding of exploring space and support their mission to Mars, pupils also took part in a series of interactive science shows in a planetarium dome set up in the Prep Hall and run by Explorer Dome.
Talking about the day, Clifton’s head of science, Tom Harris, said: “STEM Day gives pupils a chance to work on projects that are just as challenging for adults and know that their ideas are as valid as others, that there is no expert solution and there are ways to work together to find a solution.
“STEM is a way of making people realise that the things that we take for granted in this country have to be made, built, designed, thought through, even inspired in the first instance to exist; and it’s that opportunity for pupils to have their own moment of inspiration that makes a day like this worthwhile. It also allows us to celebrate the successes of the pupils and give them the chance to show what they did to help their explorer survive.”