This summer, a whole new event occurred to shake the hi-impact staff out of their hazy summer state of hibernation.  Children arrived!

Over the week a bunch of polite, engaging and funny small people visited us, dragged us away from our desks and entertained us through a whole range of STEM activities that were educational: but not like school!

On Monday it was amazing to see our visitors, who began the day as strangers, work together in extraordinary feats of engineering to build bridges that could support well over 2kg out of just paper, lollipops sticks and sellotape.  They carried this teamwork out into the nearby Eastham Woods for some inventive den building, which included decoration, furniture and even skylights. Finishing the day as friends they designed and created a whole range of superb digital games using Sketch Nation on the iPads, including side running, up scrolling and puzzle matching genres. Phew!

Tuesday; and it was back outside again.  This time with a focus on photography and the children showed fantastic observational skills, coupled with their newly taught techniques to capture fascinating images of the natural environment of the Woods and River right on our doorstep.  Back at HQ, they showed further creativity by editing these photos on compiling into a stunning, musical, video art gallery. At lunchtime they embarked on outdoor audio adventures in space with some serious overacting! Inside again, the next mission was to create some stop animation videos of their moulded plasticine animals, green screened into different habitats with some especially impressive crabs and sharks brought to life.

Is it only Wednesday? A big favourite day.  A digital treasure hunt took place where groups used GPS to track virtual clues and reported back to base, where teams had to solve clues to try and win a prize.  Mission accomplished, despite dodging rain showers. This was followed by Minecraft: a hit with consultants and children alike! All working together in the same online world the children were totally absorbed and talking relentlessly in their virtual collaborations and adventures.

Thursday was rocket day.  The teams again showed the resourcefulness and teamwork to plan and fabricate bottle rockets.  Spectacular launches streaked across the sky, soaking impressed STEM Club staff and confusing nearby office workers!  After lunch everyone was building again. This time Makey Makeys were used to trigger events in computer programs that they had constructed in Scratch, with models of games controller assembled from cardboard and silver foil (conducting the electricity).

It was robot day on Friday and we were pleased to see the children still turning up as enthusiastically as every other day despite it being the end of the week.  Initially the children paired up to program and control a motor in different ways. Subsequently they built Lego robots around these motors and used their new skills to animate them.  It was great to see the invention and out-of-the-box thinking of our teams. Following a lunchtime of on-line, co-operative quizzes like Kahoot! The children embarked on some further programming challenges using a whole range of different programming apps on the iPads with groups also controlling floor robots to solve problems, and generally have fun.

At the end of a phenomenally busy week it was good to take a moment to reflect on proceedings.  All the STEM Club staff agreed. What a pleasure it had been to be involved with such funny, creative and friendly young people.  What an amazing week of different activities that all had been so engaged in and took full advantage of. How satisfying to see friendships formed and confidence grown in such a short period of time.  How great it had been to work with the whole team at hi-impact to plan, resource and support each other to make the every day a success from start to finish. Nice…

Written by Dave Ravenscroft, STEM Holiday Club Staff