We were so excited last week to bring our primary STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programme, iDiscover, back to Nightingale Primary School! The programme’s come a long way since we piloted it at Nightingale back in May 2015, and it was great to take it back to the school where it all began.
iDiscover is a unique, week-long programme of activities for every pupil in a primary school. We provide lesson plans, access to unusual STEM workplaces and a dizzying range of resources – from forensics kits to floor robots – all designed to help each year group explore a different STEM theme and learn about the different jobs it connects to.
Like all of Inspire!’s programmes, iDiscover is facilitated in part by volunteers, who give their time and expertise to help broaden local children’s horizons. Volunteers for iDiscover are recruited from a diverse range of backgrounds, demonstrating to children that STEM subjects and jobs can be exciting and interesting for everyone. The 36 professionals supporting Nightingale’s iDiscover week included neuroscientists, urban farmers, sound technicians and architects, offering a broad spectrum of experience and knowledge.
We know that iDiscover has the power to change children’s minds about STEM jobs and who ‘should’ do them: before taking part in iDiscover, 52% of Year 2 pupils at one pilot primary school responded ‘No’ or ‘Don’t know’ to the question, ‘Are girls good at science?’. After taking part in iDiscover, all but one of these students had changed their minds.
This year, iDiscover is bringing even more STEM-related themes, jobs and excitement (we think!) to primary schools. With the addition of new strands ‘My Biology’, ‘Showcase’ and ‘Fast Forward’, Nightingale’s 235 pupils were the first to try out a whole range of new opportunities to get inspired about STEM.
New workplace visits were arranged to support the new themes, including a trip behind the scenes at Hackney Empire, where Year 4 learnt about the backstage science that goes into putting on a show, and a visit to local start-up ROLI, where Year 6 pupils tried out a cutting-edge keyboard and designed their own futuristic instruments.
Nightingale’s iDiscover week was made possible through the generous contributions of our funders, the Royal Society of Chemistry and Salesforce.org. Thanks to their support, we are able to offer the programme to primary schools at a greatly reduced cost, so that as many children as possible can benefit from its unique approach.
The pupils clearly took some valuable lessons away from the week’s activities. One told us “if you want to be a scientist you have to ask lots of questions”; another got to the heart of the programme’s message, saying they’d learned that “you can do any job”. Their teachers were enthusiastic as well, telling us they’d taken away some ideas about how to make their own science teaching even more engaging for pupils.
“It’s been great to bring iDiscover back to Nightingale, and the new themes were a hit with pupils, teachers and volunteers,” said Lucinda Worlock, iDiscover Programme Manager. “We’re looking forward to delivering the programme to more local children, and to opening their eyes to the choices and opportunities STEM can open up for them.”
To find out more about iDiscover, or to register your interest in volunteering to support the programme, please email email@example.com or call 020 7275 6066.