STEM from Home: Fantastic science and technology activities to expand your child’s universe …


STEM from Home: Fantastic science and technology activities to expand your child's universe ...

Welcome to part five of CGI’s popular virtual STEM camps for youngsters – with some fascinating and free scientific activities to last the whole summer

FUN activities designed to keep children and teenagers occupied throughout lockdown and the summer holidays are currently being provided by global technology firm CGI’s STEM from Home programme – with all projects designed to both educate and entertain. 

The content is updated every week and The Herald has so far covered the first eight packs released by the company.

The online programme is entirely free and has been so successful during the coronavirus lockdown that it has gone global.

Created by CGI, the programme has had an “amazing” response from children, parents and educators across the globe, with many families saying how much they look forward to the weekly release of new content.

“We are overwhelmed by the feedback and the volume of people that have shown interest,” said CGI’s Philippa Green.  “We are really pleased with it as it has been the right thing at the right time. It’s educational but still fun.”

STEM from Home has been born from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) camps that CGI has been running for the past year in UK schools and communities to encourage students to think about a STEM career.

When the coronavirus lockdown was announced, it was decided to try and recreate the camps online and, incredibly, the technological wizards at CGI managed to have STEM from Home up and running within two days.

It was trialled internally but went down so well that, after just the first week, staff asked to share it with family, friends and clients.

As the demand was there, CGI decided to make it accessible online for anyone to use, with new content released every week to keep youngsters engaged. 

“It’s presented in a very creative way to keep their interest and we’ve had amazing feedback,” said Green. “We are a business organisation and although we do community outreach this is on a completely different scale. The reach of it has been immense.”
Aimed at children aged between six and 14-years-old, activities are designed to be completed from home with minimal resources necessary for activities that include designing a robot and creating a STEM superhero. 

As well as competitions and programming, children are also challenged to take part in physical activities, including nature trails and designing their own home exercise routine.

The competitions are popular with so many good entries that it can sometimes be difficult to decide on a winner, according to Green. Some of the best are posted online.

“A lot of effort goes in to some of them and I know from my own children that they look at some of the designs and are inspired by seeing what others do,” she said. 
Around 6,000 CGI staff members receive packs for their children each week and there have tens of thoudsands of page views of the packs on the CGI UK website.

“It’s been shared very widely by our members and clients as well as community groups and schools we have had relationships with,” said Luke Kittow, pictured inset, who creates the content. “It’s good to see that schools are finding it useful and are confident that they are giving children content that is going to work with the existing curriculum. 

“Having said that, hands-on learning engages children more than working from a text book.”

Some parents sit down with children to work through the packs but others who may not be as tech savvy as their youngsters leave them to get on with it.

“The children seem to love it,” said Kittow. “They like how it relates to real life topics that they are genuinely interested in.”

It is not necessary to download any software to complete the packs as the activities can be opened in a web browser. 

“The great thing about the packs is that they are very adaptable and very much open to interpretation,” said Kittow. “They can be as complex or simple as you like which is why they can reach such a wide age range. 

 

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ART AND DESIGN

THE ninth pack in the series covers art and design. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and maths but art and design can contribute much to advances in these fields. 

It is important that mobile phones have the best cameras, memory and processors, but it is equally as important that they look good and are designed well, or who would buy them? 

The same applies to bridges and buildings. Although they are there to serve a purpose, these should be effectively designed and visually appealing to fit in with the buildings around them. 

To emphasise the importance of art and design, the ninth pack in the STEM from Home series gives participants the chance to create their own virtual birthday card, become a graphic designer and test their art skills.

The technical activity is called Happy Birthday and in this project, children are introduced to HTML and CSS by learning how to make their own customised birthday cards. 

They will learn how to design basic 2D & 3D assets using HTML/CSS. All that is needed is a computer capable of accessing trinket.io. and the project can be completed using a web browser. The bonus technical activity is Pixel Art which teaches how to use basic programming constructs to create simple programmes. 

As well as using HTML and CSS, participants will learn how to use JavaScript to add interactivity to their projects.

 Again all that is needed is a computer capable of accessing trinket.io. and the project can be completed using a web browser. 

The  creative activity involves graphic design with children asked to create design work for a company called Tony’s Toys that makes toys for kids aged between four and ten-years-old.

The participants are told that business has been good for Tony’s Toys, but the business is now looking to boost profits even further. 

Their task is to create a new logo and website homepage for the company, in order to attract more people to the business and boost sales. 

The company’s current logo is simple but doesn’t stand out enough and the children are asked to create a new logo that will grab people’s attention.

 It can be drawn by hand or drawn virtually and should be as colourful and creative as possible, perhaps even including graphics of some of the toys that the business sells. Participants are also asked to design a website homepage for the business, using the project Guide to my country 1.0.  

The bonus activity is to draw or paint (by hand or virtually) something famous related to STEM. This could be a famous building or bridge, scientist or invention, or even an item of technology. Designs can be drawn, sketched, painted or etched.

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NEW TECHNOLOGIES

THE tenth pack in the series is about new technologies. The introduction tells those accessing the pack that technology serves a variety of different purposes and it is important that it continues to advance in order to improve the quality of societies and businesses. 

It is pointed out that advances in technology can help improve education, enabling further research and the ability to meet and teach virtually. New technologies can also keep physical and virtual property secure, enable mass production of goods and help people to learn more about space.

In this pack children are asked to design a robot to help build the schools of the future, code a dodgeball game with Scratch, build a home projector and create a model of a rocket using Blender.
In introducing the robot activity, the children are told that robots aim to replicate human movements or functionality automatically, so are always designed with a purpose.  

Some robots are designed to build cars, some to organise humans’ day-to-day lives and some are designed to teach children how to code and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

The task here is to design and build (or draw) a robot that can help to build and run the schools of tomorrow. Participants are asked to think carefully about what the schools of tomorrow might look like and how will they be different from today. 

They are asked to consider how the robot can help to ensure that the school is environmentally friendly and whether it will help with teaching any classes. Will it use renewable energy sources? How will it help to feed hundreds of students? What will it do to ensure that children stay active and healthy in school, how will it make break and lunch times interesting for students and how will it be powered?  
The final product can be a model or drawing. This pack also ncorporates a dodgeball game developed by the company Robotical where children can code and play using Scratch. 
In this activity, they will learn how to create a platform game in which the player has to dodge moving balls. 

All that is  needed is a computer capable of running Scratch 3 either online or offline. The activity teaches how to use the keyboard to control a sprite, how to use different scratch blocks and how to clone a sprite.

The bonus activity in this pack is to build a home projector for a mobile phone using materials that can be found lying around the house. The image/video from the screen will be projected from the phone onto a wall, creating a home cinema experience.

The technical activity is to create a model of a rocket using Blender. All that is needed is a desktop or laptop computer capable of running the Blender software. The activity teaches how to design basic 2D & 3D assets.

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TRAVEL

THE eleventh pack in the series covers travel.  It points out that travel allows people to see different parts of the world, experience different ways of life and cultures and most holidays wouldn’t be possible without a plane, boat or car. 

The children are told that travel is also important in business. Whether it is travelling to meet clients or shipping products across the world, travel helps to keep businesses running.

With this pack participants can create a guess the flag game with Scratch, design the cars of the future and complete a travel word search. 

The technical activity is the guess the flag game. In this project, children will create a flag quiz to test themselves and their friends. In the quiz, six flags and the name of a country are displayed and they have to click on the correct flag to match the country. 

All that is needed is a computer capable of running Scratch 3 either online or offline. 

By doing this activity, children will learn how to broadcast a message and have other sprites respond and how to select random items from a list. The practical activity is to design the cars of the future. 

The children are told that cars have developed significantly over the past 100 years, becoming more reliable, safer and more environmentally friendly. 

Many say that hybrid and electric cars are the future, with petrol and diesel vehicles being much worse for the environment. 

They are then asked what they want from the cars of the future and if they can design one. It  can be a drawing, model or presentation and the children are asked to consider how their vehicle will be powered. 

For example should it be petrol, electricity or solar? What will it be  made from and will it require a driver? Will it travel on the road or in the air, what cool gadgets will it have and how will it look different to the cars of today?  As ever, the children’s STEM creations can be uploaded to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook using using #STEMfromHome and #ExperienceCGI.

The bonus activity  is a word search game with 20 words connected to travel to find. 

As with all the packs in the series the content is presented in a colourful, engaging and straightforward way. Aimed at children aged between six and 14-years-old, activities are designed to be completed from home with minimal resources necessary. Even the youngest children are catered for and should be able to work on at least some of the pack without requiring any adult help.

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SOUND

THE twelfth pack in the series is about music and sound. 

In its introduction, it is pointed out that music and sound plays a big part in people’s lives, whether it is playing favourite songs, listening to the radio in the car or background music in films and TV. Music is also important in business, with the UK music industry worth more than £5bn.

Businesses use music in adverts to help sell their products and in shops to help set certain moods.  In this pack, children will code a live DJ set, create their own STEM rap and play a game of homemade musical drinking glasses.

First they can learn to rap with Jon Chase, a freelance science communicator, author and rapper based in South Wales. Chase has a passion for scientific thinking and believes that knowledge should be made available in a way that allows as many people as possible the opportunity to gain access to it. 

As a result of this belief, he has written and performed many raps based around science, space, maths and other topics. These raps are used as a fun and engaging way to help students learn the key information about these subjects. His raps can be found on YouTube and there is information about him on his  website. People can also connect with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter. 
This module emphasises that creating raps, songs or poems can be a good revision technique and Chase shows how creating rhymes can help to make even the most complex subjects understandable and memorable.

The task here is for children to create their own rap, song or poem about one of the following topics: science, art, engineering, exercise, maths, friendship, communication, technology or sport. They should aim to make the rap, song or poem around 30 seconds long, highlighting key themes of their chosen topic. 

It can be created as a sound clip, photo or piece of art – whatever they choose.
The technical activity in this pack involves being a live DJ. Here children will learn how to code a live music performance that they can add to and edit without having to stop the music. All that is needed is a computer capable of running Sonic Pi with children learning how to use Sonic Pi Live Loop and how to play random notes and samples.

The bonus activity  is called Musical Drinking Glasses where children learn how to play tunes on drinking glasses containing different amounts of water. As with all the activities in the series, it can be carried out with items found around the home. 

All that is needed is  6-8 identically sized drinking glasses, water, a spoon and a measuring jug.

This article was brought to you in association with CGI as part of The Herald’s STEM campiagn




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