STEM week

Balcarras pupils spent a week learning more about Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths

STEM week 2018

STEM week at Balcarras has become a much anticipated tradition, and 2018 did not disappoint. Aiming to inspire students to take careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, a wide range of activities were on offer catering for all Key Stages.

Year 8 Natural History Museum Trip

On Monday and Tuesday 80 Year 8 pupils took an early bus ride to London to visit the Natural History Museum. Pupils got to look at specimens of bone, rocks and fossils under a microscope with an expert before a free afternoon looking around the museum with a booklet of things they had to find.

Year 7 ‘Chemistry show’

On Wednesday, all of Year 7 experienced a demonstration show illuminating the chemistry behind fuel. Dr Sharp had the students on the edge of their seats (behind a safety screen) as he explained how man first discovered fire, through to the use of fossil fuels, all the way to how rockets are powered.

Year 9 ‘physics of flight’ workshop

On Thursday all of Year 9 took part in a physics of flight workshop. Miss Swanepoel ran students through the basic physics of gliders before students made and tested their own working models. Once final tests were completed students headed down to the main hall where their gliders were launched from the stage. The top distance of the day was a whopping 11.75m!

Bloodhound SSC project

On Friday two students from Swansea university and ambassadors of the Bloodhound project; a UK-led, global project to build a supersonic car that will not only beat the current land speed world record but also smash the 1,000mph barrier came to visit. 28 Balcarras pupils had the opportunity to learn about the car and spend the afternoon making their own rocket fuelled vehicles! They were challenged on their views of what the role of an engineer was and learnt a lot about how the aerodynamics of a car can help it go faster.


Throughout the week Miss Evans and Mr Rothwell took over the normal assembly rota. Each day they put on a demonstration show modelling the digestive system. From the enzymes in our mouth to the peristalsis in our intestines; the students were intrigued if not mildly disgusted with how our body processes food!

Lunchtime lectures

Each lunchtime during STEM week, there were engaging lectures that appealed to all ages. On Monday we had Mr Brotherton vs Mr Niblett in the overly ambitions demonstration competition. Tuesday was the turn of Miss Swanepoel who took us through the evolution of technology and products. Wednesday saw Mr Butler talk about ‘sexual selection’ a branch of Darwin’s natural selection that explains the variation between species brought about by attracting a mate. Elephant seals and birds of paradise are just a couple of examples he delved into. Thursday we had two guests from GCHQ who showed us how encryption is used in communication. On Friday Dr Jones did a dissection of a pig heart and lungs. It was fascinating to see how much the lungs inflate when air is pumped into them and how huge a pig liver is!

Sian Evans

STEM week coordinator