KS2 Pupils Use STEAM Skills to Help in a Humanitarian Crisis

31 May 2023

Leighton Park’s annual KS2 celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Maths (STEAM), was a bright day this year as both the brilliant ideas of almost 300 KS2 pupils and the wonderful sunshine lit up the school field!

Seven schools brought their Year 5 pupils to Leighton Park on Thursday 25th May to discover how STEAM can help in a humanitarian crisis. The students were organised into three sessions with Katesgrove Primary first, followed by The Hill Primary, Emmer Green Primary and St Teresa’s Catholic Academy second and thirdly Caversham Prep, Waverley School and Maltman’s Green. They tackled three challenges in teams of five: how to transport essential aid on a raft, how to transport water effectively, and how to build a storm proof shelter

Leighton Park School STEAM skillsSTEAM Co-Ordinator and event mastermind, Mark Budge, commented, “I think this has been fantastic. STEAM is all about the cross-curricular and the three different activities really lent themselves to that. It was the problem solving and the creativity that was so great to see. I loved some of the ideas that came up.”

The ‘essential aid’ items, which included medicines, blankets, water purification tablets, and clothing, were represented by eggs which had to be moved on a raft made out of spaghetti and marshmallows. The winning structure held an impressive eight eggs! Chemistry teacher, Rachel Milhofer, who led the activity, enthused, “STEAMfest is a wonderful event; to see the joy on the children’s faces as they get to try something that they don’t get to do in other situations.” Rio (Lower Sixth) who was helping, laughed, “I’s a bit sticky but the children did really well.”

The shelter building got everyone giggling as they braved the onslaught of the fierce storm aka DT teacher, Jeff Fuller, wielding a hose! The excited pupils were shown how a tripod could be built out of three sticks and a small bungee. Their imaginations ran riot as they then combined this knowledge with their other equipment, shaping shelters out of tarpaulins, plastic tubing, some long rope and up to twelve sticks each. The ultimate test was whether anyone in the team got soaked when the storm arrived; despite the shouting no-one seemed to mind a bit of a splash! Jeff reflected, “It’s a great way for KS2 children to problem solve and have an experience of iterative design. They look at how their shelters collapse and then have to rebuild them and try to improve them.”

Leighton Park School STEAM skills

Forces and momentum were key concepts for those wanting to transport water between two buckets using two tarpaulins, some rope, bungees and sticks. The bucket collecting the water was weighed in by our LP STEAM team which included STEAM. DT and Academic scholars. Rafe (Year 10) who helped with the activity commented, “I think It’s pretty cool because it introduces young kids into STEAM earlier.”

Year 5 teacher, Shakira Whight from The Hill Primary was delighted with the day, “This is our first year at STEAMfest and we had a really, really good time. It’s given all the children the opportunity to work together and they’ve learnt lots about a humanitarian crisis.”  Sara Douglas, Year 5 teacher at Waverley School agreed, “I think it’s wonderful, it’s a great opportunity for the children to work collaboratively and think about things they can do to help people in crises. A fantastic experience for them.”  Lucy from Caversham Prep summed up the day for everyone, “I enjoyed everything! It’s really fun and I’d like to do it again!”

The event was supported by a pre-event video made by Leighton Park students, dance and football breaks on the day from the School’s Sports Leader Award pupils in Year 10 and CTEC Sport Students in the Lower Sixth and by goody bags of ration packs, dried food and emergency aid with video links for the visiting schools to try after the day.


Leighton Park School