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Oct 13, 2016

Mission to Mars Update

Making Mars Lander Buggies
Making Mars Lander Buggies

Over the summer we have organised several events that give students the opportunity to see STEM in action. 

Students in year 10 form across several London schools attended a workshop in which they took part in different activities that simulated a real Mars expedition. From finding ways to make a safe landing, to generating power to understanding how to match (fake!) blood types to give a life saving transfusion, students really are ready for life on Mars!

This summer we also enjoyed working with the University of Oxford, in particular the Department of PharmacologyThe Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences and Brasenose College to arrange insight days for some of our students in years 11 and 12.

Year 12 participants gained an insight into the research facilities and projects of students of Oxford’s  Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour. In particular the behaviour of fruit flies – which despite their small size can teach us a lot about the workings of the brain! They even got to help out with some of the experiments, learning about technical methods and equipment. As well as gaining an insight into the academic side of life at university, we also visited Brasenose College and got a behind the scenes tour, tried out the canteen food, visited the on site library and spoke to current undergraduates about their experiences.

A cohort of our younger students visited the Medical Research Council Brain Netwoekd Dynamics Unit and took part in a range of discussions, debates and demonstrations. They even had the opportunity to use electro magnetic charges to stimulate the motor cortex in the brain and looked at the differing reation times of a twitching finger - from direct sitimulation, through to conscious thought. It was a great learning opportunity and really showed students the importance of scientific research in medical advancement. 

We have many more activities in the pipline for the new academic year, including coding and robotics workshops and a speed networking evening. 


“Being able to see a dendrite and a synapse, in the flesh, was amazing- now all the theory makes sense!” – Kim, Year 11

 “It was an incredible experience, it shows you an insight into the workings of a research lab. I’m definitely interested in a career in the medical field.” – Jack, Year 11


Sep 30, 2016

Coding skills for youn ex-offenders


We have recently found that our students have managed to obtain a number of ‘artistic’ and social skills as a result of the programme:


Interactive: good for those with kinaesthetic learning preference, helps keep learner actively engaged and can provide instant feedback
Multi-sensory: auditory, visual and hands on learning recommended for dyslexia Work at their own pace: is non-critical and patient, can repeat sections as often as you like
Help with literacy: read-back software and/or speech input, text highlighting, spell checking, predictive software
Help with organisation: electronic organisers, drafting facilities like cut and paste, mind mapping programmes Accommodate individual learning styles: adapting colour of background and foreground, changing font size and type. The  project has been innovative.  Opportunities for young ex-offenders have been very difficult, with few employers willing to take risks. This project  not only supported this group but used resources raised to give them key technical skills to have a fighting chance for a job. 



The project fulfilled 3 objectives for 300 students. 

1  They have secured real coding skills that can be used for employement and further training


2 We gave students some key soft skills:

 Trust of others- how much I trust others’ ideas, qualities and opinions in this lesson

. Pace- how much pace, risk and change I like in this lesson

  Disclosure- how willing am I share to share thoughts, ideas, opinions and questions in this lesson

  Perspective- whether I see things from a detached or personal perspective in this lesson

Processing- whether I focus on making connections or following step by step in this lesson

  Planning- whether I focus on the learning outcome or am open ended in this lesson


3  We have placed most of our students on  real work inernships with  STEM companies.   This aspect of the project needs real support in terms of administration costs and also the transport costs for our students




We have also pointed our students to a programme run by the Sutton Trust: We would need funding in supporting our students in pre-application process


Pathways to STEM, which is kindly supported by the Kusuma Trust UK, has been established to widen access to STEM degrees and the wide range of careers they open up. The Pathways to STEM programme supports academically able low and middle-income state school students to access the most selective STEM university courses and provide them with the foundation for a STEM career through the development of soft skills, a work placement, careers advice and a mentor.


Research by the Sutton Trust has identified a strong demand for skills in STEM areas, excellent and growing career prospects and a significant under- representation of those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds at entry and higher levels.


Pathways to STEM includes a range of sessions for students, parents and teachers, including tailored education and careers advice; academic classes in STEM subjects; sessions to develop non-academic skills; a residential summer school; a work experience placement in a relevant STEM setting; assignment of a mentor; and a graduation event for students and parents. Pathways to STEM will work with students in Years 10 and 11 to provide advice on key decisions and help with the step-up to A-level study, before also supporting them in Years 12 and 13. The programme is run through university partners, Nottingham and York.

Jul 19, 2016

heading to Mars : A STEM project for young peiple

The Target Mars project completes its pilot run. We need funding to complete the main project targeting around 200 students


Project overview


Imagine teams of six heroic individuals, embarking on a mission of gargantuan proportions. Our most popular is an ill-fated colonisation of Mars, wherein the event is introduced as a space race: teams of pupils represent different nations in their quest. The pupils need to cooperate to ensure success, but only one team can claim final glory. Teams must invest funds wisely and determine which of their team members have the skills required to successfully complete each of the challenges faced. Success in experiments and problem-solving tasks is essential. The pupils adopt techniques used in scientific research, as they face a terrorist plot, a disease outbreak, industrial espionage and a dangerous Martian expedition!

 The excitement is tangible and the sense of competition strong. The experience is undeniably real and therefore more clearly remembered. Learning is not only fascinating: it is challenging and addictive!

There is a genuine concern about the dwindling numbers of students pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines to further education. Our G&T events, offering excitement and real-life experiences, can help to nurture future scientists. 

For example, events for Key Stages 3 & 4 require pupils to explore Redox reactions. Pupils use microchemistry, as used in laboratories around the world, to perform the reduction of copper oxide with hydrogen. This is followed by an investigation into the electrolysis of brine. They model ion migration, using animations in PowerPoint resources and then progress to the investigation of fuel cell technology, using a reversible PEM fuel cell in a model car.

By the end of the challenge, pupils are able to explain physical and conceptual models – with a focus on the applications for industrial processes and new technologies.

It really stretched every facet of pupil's intelligence and application. They truly excelled under pressure! The approach was diverse enough to present constantly changing and contrasting challenges. The presenter is not just a teacher, but a communicator through many different techniques that maintained interest, fun and maximum participation. Dave Read, Lead Teacher. Manningtree High School, Manningtree

An excellent event, thoroughly enjoyable and extremely well organised! It provided challenges for all abilities and allowed students to use a whole range of skills in practical, creative and scientific areas. The presenter is an excellent motivator who kept the students on task and encouraged them at every opportunity. Zoe Taylor, G&T Coordinator, The Herts & Essex High School, Bishop's Stortford

Fantastic stuff! The presenters have astonishing energy. Aspire arrived post SAT and GCSE preparation - and showed us, with skill, how to engage bright year nine pupils. Science is now definitely on the map and future science 'A' levels and university courses are now considered possible. The modern up-to-date equipment was excellent - never seen before in school and taught us as teachers, what can be possible. The content covered a huge range of skills covering many parts of the curriculum. The pace was excellent. The realism offered by using business and enterprise to organise groups and encourage teamwork is an inspiration! Mrs M Hughes, Lead Teacher, Saddleworth High School, Manchester


A brilliant experience for G&T students and staff! Students experienced an excellent programme with a variety of stimulating challenges. They also had the opportunity to work in teams with students from other local schools. Well organised, everything was provided and suited to task. Presented with enthusiasm, he motivated students to participate fully. Grace Andrew, Assistant Headteacher, Kesteven & Grantham Girls School, Grantham


A fantastic week - I'd do it again in an instant! activities combined the right amount of challenge and fun. There was a real buzz about the students from beginning to end. The students engaged well with the variety of resources. The fact that they were up to date and the practical resources were those used in industry was good. The presenter was really helpful throughout the set up and running of the week. I felt that I had input and a really clear idea of how and why the event was progressing.

Jane Anderson, Assistant Headteacher, Bishop Wand C of E School, Middlesex


Having seen most of the activities twice now I still find the whole thing exciting and motivating for the students. For them to still talk about it as one of the highlights one year on can only be a good thing. Pupils encourage, discipline and educate each other using this type of group work.

Martyn Stringer, GT Coordinator, East Bergholt High School, Colchester


'This was a once in a lifetime experience, which I will never forget. It was useful, fun and unique. I am proud of myself…it has definitely built my confidence, increased my knowledge and provided more interest in science. It has also helped me with my plans for my career and future'. N. Bibi, Year 10, Walshaw High School, Burnley.





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