Firbeck students get hands-on to inspire learning

07 Dec 2017 12:41:22.657

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Mixing concrete, examining fossils and solving puzzles; pupils at Firbeck Academy get hands-on for lessons in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

The University of Nottingham staged a day-long take-over at the school in Firbeck Road to inspire learning and promote the subjects that impact our daily lives.

Across the year groups children took part in activities before a final assembly at the end of the day. Engineering was taught by getting pupils to mix different amounts of ingredients to form ‘concrete’ before carrying out a number of strength tests to decide on the best recipe.

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Dr Nick Thom, Assistant Professor in Engineering, said: “I think anything we can do to put academic subjects like maths and science into real context is a good idea, helping the children to see meaning in what they learn. Concrete is a great example because they can see it all around them. And of course we need a new generation of engineers of all different types to meet the challenges that the modern world continues to throw up.”

For science fossils, including a piece of ancient excrement, helped to give pupils a lesson in key events in the Earth’s timeline. 

Meanwhile maths was covered with magnetic pendulums, Newton’s cradles, gyroscopes and the Towers of Hanoi puzzle.

The day was part of a series of events run across the year by the University’s Widening Participation team.

This includes family learning, visits to the University of Nottingham campuses, assemblies and summer schools.

Wendy Riley, Deputy Head teacher at Firbeck Academy, said: “We are very lucky to work closely with the University to raise aspirations and show our children what a wide variety of amazing careers they could have in the future. This special WOW day introduced the children to STEM in a hands on, interactive way and I'm sure inspired them to go on to study science, technology, engineering or maths!”

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Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


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More information is available from Liz Cass, Head of News in the Media Relations Team on +44 (0)115 748 4734,


Liz Cass - Head of Media Relations

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 748 4734 Location: University Park

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