Primary 5/4 at Avoch Primary School have been progressing with YSL2 as a class activity, with the focus being their sharing of science experiments with Primary 1 pupils in their school. The opportunity has been well received by all involved. Much time was spent initially discussing the skills a Young STEM Leader should demonstrate and many pupils can identify where their strengths lie and where they can develop.
A staged approach to practical investigations is being used with the class teacher, Cath Milne, initially demonstrating and discussing practical sharing skills and then gradually handing leadership over to the pupils. Pupils are buddied with the P1s so they have an ongoing relationship and are quickly developing a rapport and friendship.
Many of the pupils have realised that in order to share with others they need to know their facts, especially when the audience is young and can be easily distracted. Strategies have been discussed and P5/4 are now integrating these in to their sessions. These include speaking clearly and directly, presenting information in small chunks, introducing new and novel practical equipment in stages, removing equipment when it is finished with to prevent distraction, asking questions and, most importantly, being happy, confident and enthusiastic. At the end of each delivery session time is spent reviewing and reflecting with a view to continually improving. Completion of the log book is taking some time but the class teacher believes it is age and stage appropriate. Parts are set as homework tasks and this has the benefit that the pupils are sharing their activities and thoughts with those at home.
Cath is involved in a range of other STEM opportunities which are contributing to and complementing the programme. These include the production of a film demonstrating the construction of O-wing gliders by the pupils for another Highland primary school. Her class thoroughly enjoyed the planning and filming with all being allocated a role, either in front of, or behind, the camera. They also stretched their remit by recording a question session. After sharing with the partner school they spoke directly with pupils via FaceTime and hope to receive a reciprocal film in the near future.
Pupils have also been compiling book reviews. These reviews, written by young people for both their peers and their educators, are a different but equally valid demonstration of mentoring skills that are key to the programme. It is hoped that the reviews will be received favourably and published.
At a recent inservice day Cath had the opportunity to share the work she has progressed to date with colleagues. The P1 teacher has already recognised the benefit of this STEM mentoring and has asked for it to be extended beyond the duration of this intervention. The hope is that the positive impact of being involved in the pilot will become increasingly evident and more teachers will be keen to take it forward with their classes in the future.