3 Years in STEM by Alex JC
Over the past 3 years at The Beacon, STEM developed into a major aspect of my academic life, from my first project in Year 9 to running a club in Year 11.
The first project was an opening into a world of self-research and skill building, with it being the first time that I had ever worked on a project by myself. Miss Banda suggested to me that I should enter the Youth Industrial Strategy Competition and being keen to make a good impression as a 14 year old, I immediately said yes.
The competition had different challenges to choose from and I selected the one related to an ageing society. As this was all new to me, the guidance and support I had, enabled me to produce a project that I was truly proud of.
I conducted primary and secondary research into Alzheimer's and Dementia and the current existing supportive products on the market, from this I gained an insight to what I could do to help.
I came up with the idea of a user-friendly pill dispenser app that worked with a rotating pill box; I looked at similar products on the market and discussed their limitations and how I would aim to remove these from my concept. I then moved onto prototype design, prototype creation and test software development. I learned a lot from these processes, as for one my drawing skills aren’t great and I had to learn to take time with my design but also because it helped to build skills such as my ability to problem solve when elements didn’t work out as intended. It also developed my ability to communicate as I had to present my ideas at each stage of the project.
After the initial project, there were a few other smaller projects before the pandemic began. This disrupted projects until around March 2021.
March 2021, I began the STEM project that led to a huge confidence boost (something some would argue isn’t needed…) as it resulted in an interview for CGTN - a large global news station based in China. Initially with a small team we entered the BIEA competition on household composting. The main personal development from this project was due to the interview. As soon as the news station began recording I froze, I had forgotten everything. I was lucky that after a prompt I was okay and I sailed through. It taught me that it was okay to be nervous and it gave me confidence to be able to talk about what I knew.
In September 2021, I began Year 11 but also my own STEM Club - Young Planet Protectors. This was difficult to set up as it meant planning sessions and organising a team of young people to develop their skills as well as having the responsibility to make sure they had a great time. I gained so much from this experience: the ability to plan, the ability to organise, the ability to write formal letters and the ability to present to a class. I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to run my own club and I urge students in Year 10 and Year 11 to do the same - you will gain a lot from it!
During Science Week in the earlier part of this year I had the opportunity to deliver my own classes to Year 8 students focused on water availability and water filtration, this was incredibly rewarding as I was able to learn to present as well as answer the random questions that the students could think of.
In my final week at The Beacon I had the chance to go to the National Physics Laboratory to participate in the water rocket challenge, it was a day filled with fun as we attempted to launch rockets and earn trophies. The Beacon managed to pick up a trophy as well as have an incredible time!
The last STEM activity I participated in at the beacon was the delivery of some of the Year 6 transition day classes where I got to teach students how to build their own bottle gardens as well as allow them to understand the science behind the mini ecosystem using their foundational knowledge.
To conclude: I am incredibly grateful to have been a part of STEM at the Beacon, it has largely assisted in the development of the skills that I have today. I strongly suggest that if you have not tried STEM then you give it a go - it has made a huge difference to my education.
Thank you to Miss Banda for providing these opportunities to me over the course of the last 3 years.
Have a great summer!
Model United Nations Conference Highlights by Alex C
Every year, more than 400,000 people from primary schools, secondary schools, universities, and beyond take part in a Model United Nations (MUN). There are few better ways of understanding international affairs and global politics than putting yourself ‘in the shoes of world leaders’. Because participants discuss UN topics and represent their adopted country’s position, they will often be arguing from an unfamiliar perspective, developing knowledge, understanding, empathy and other key life skills.
By role-playing meetings like the Security Council and General Assembly, participants get a unique insight into how the United Nations works. They research, debate and try to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems just like the real thing.
On the 4th of July Beacon students had the privilege of visiting the City of London Freemens School in Ashtead for the Inter School Model UN Conference. Our team comprised 16 students from Years 7-9 who acted as delegates for India, Poland, Ukraine and The United Kingdom. The delegates prepared argument representing their country’s position on topics such as Resettling refugees, veganism, disarmament and electric cars
At the event, students were taken into the Ferndale Theatre and greeted by the organiser Mrs Smith and the chairs of each committee.
Once the introductions had finished the students left the Ferndale theatre to go to their separate committee rooms ready to debate. To break the ice at the beginning the students talked about less serious topics however once everyone was ready they began to debate more serious matters. Over the day the matters discussed in the meetings grew from small issues like childrens use of mobile phones to global issues such as anti-terrorism and overfishing as well as many others. All of the students made great points and were always making an effort to participate in conversations even if the topics they centred on were difficult to discuss. After their meetings drew to a close the students were taken back into the Ferndale Theatre for a closing ceremony and for awards to be given out to those with well thought out arguments and points given in their speeches in each committee. For each committee there were 3 awards given out 2 high commendations and 1 outstanding commendation
The Beacon students that received high commendations were Grace J, Zach H, Harry O, Tristan N, Sam S and Gea dV. Billy P was the top Beacon student and received an outstanding commendation which was for his role as the Poland delegate for the Environmental Committee.
When asked what skills they felt they had gained from this experience students said it helped their debating skills and let them look at things from a different point of view while others said it had helped improve their confidence in public speaking. With the success of this meeting the Beacon School hopes to hold a Model UN meeting of its own next year.
Thank you to both Miss Banda and Mr Keeling for helping on the trip and making sure the Beacon students were able to have this experience.
Alex C, Year 12 STEM Work Experience Student