Our STEM Day this November had the main theme of ‘Farmvention.’ This is to look into the future of farming in a changing world. Each year group chose a theme from one of the three categories: ‘Wool the Wonder Fabric,’ ‘Street Food Superstars’ and ‘Farm Machine: 2040.
In reception we looked at farm machinery and talked about what different machines are used for. We looked at the different parts of farm machinery and talked about which job they each did. The children then discussed what they thought would be a good idea for a farm machine to do on a farm with their learning partner, and then used junk modelling to create their own farm machines.
Year 1 completed a challenge from the Farmvention Website. They had to design an item of clothing made from wool. First we talked about where wool come from and the processes it went through before it was made into anything. We also talked about the qualities of wool being a warm material and the types of clothing we needed to be warm and the disadvantage that it is not waterproof. The children then designed an item of clothing that they thought would be good made from wool. Later on we looked at advertisements for clothing and talked about the important features of an advert. The children then made their own posters to advertise their clothing design.
We completed the Farmvention challenge of designing your own street food. The children went on a hunt in the year 2 corridor to find out facts about different food groups using ‘talk time’ cards (which gave them facts). They used this information to design their own street food and discussed the nutritional benefits. The children then created advertisement posters and presented them to the year group. There was an extra challenge to make their street food at home and it was fantastic to see the children enjoying this!
For STEM day, Year Three entered a competition hosted by NFU Education for a new street food design to promote British produce. Firstly, the children learnt a little about British farming and harvesting. They talked about climate and condition and where our food comes from. We considered the food things that we buy in Tesco and decided to focus our designs on stuffed peppers.
After following a simple recipe to try out stuffing peppers, the children created their own designs with different fillings. Some of these were very adventurous, as we learnt in the final task where children had to market their product by creating an eye-catching poster and a TV or radio advert.
At the start of STEM day we posed the question what are we going to be eating in 50 years? One answer was BUGS! We investigated this further by researching the environmental impact of eating bugs, the nutritional value, where they are eaten around the world and any concerns that we thought there might be.
We learned that bugs are eaten around the world by 2.5 billion people living in Asia, Australia and Africa. We also found out bugs are cold blooded, they contain lots of protein and that they take less space to raise than cattle.
After break, we investigated further the nutritional benefits of eating bugs. We created pictograms and bar graphs to present this information. We found out that the Giant Water Beetle has the highest amount of protein in it and the Weevil has the least, only 7g.
In the afternoon, we got creative and designed posters and leaflets to advertise a new product: The Bug Burger! We tried to make our work eye-catching and we tried to include facts that would entice others to try our Bug Burgers!
Here are some of the facts from one leaflet about a Giant Water Beetle Burger:
- These burgers have 20g of protein – WOW!
- They are much healthier than pork or beef.
- Raising insects is much easier than raising cattle and doesn’t take up too much space!
- This burger is very filling and delicious!
- It’s better for the environment than normal burgers.
- It tastes like a normal burger but much healthier.
- Would you like to try one of these burgers?
Year 5 took ‘Farm Machine: 2040’ as our topic for the day. The children knew from the beginning that in the afternoon they would need to design a farm machine fit for use in the year 2040 and be able to present their work as an advert or talk in front of their parents.
First, we looked at different types of farm machinery and brainstormed what we knew about farming. From tractors to pea harvesters, combines to crop sprayers, we looked at all different kinds of vehicles and machines found on farms and then at their mechanisms and workings. The children found out about gears, levers and pulleys before experimenting with force meters and investigating friction.
Year 5 then investigated some of the challenges facing farmers and what machinery would be needed in the future to meet these pressures. How can you farm underground? How about up a rocky mountain or on an urban rooftop? How will climate change and population growth affect the planet and what farmers will need to provide? The children talked about all of these things and then began to design machines to cope with these issues. Three designs each were whittled down to one, with a detailed and annotated explanation of why the machine was suitable for 2040. Then came the challenging bit: explaining our machines to parents and persuading them which one was the best!
Wool, the wonder fabric!
In year 6, our challenge was to design a unique clothing product that uses wool, ‘the wonder fabric’. We started the day by learning about the history of sheep farming and how some of its uses have changed over time. We watched a short video that explained the process of sheep shearing and how the wool is transported to the factory to be cleaned and packed.
In order to identify the best material as an insulator for our clothing product, we carried out an investigation to test different materials. Each group was given a different material (cotton, wool, acrylic, polyester, nylon or bamboo) to test to see which was the best insulator. We ensured that our control variables remained the same in each group and measured the temperature at five minute intervals. The results helped us in designing our own clothing products as we were aware of the best insulators.
After carrying out our experiment, it was time to design. We worked together in pairs to create our own designs. We were inspired by mood boards and examples of existing clothing products. When designing, we had to think about the audience and purpose of our products.
In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to create an advert to promote our clothing product to each other. We used posters to attract the attention of our audience while trying to persuade them to buy our products. We were joined by our parents in the afternoon so that we could share our learning with them. We hope they enjoyed watching our adverts!