GEW, and both Ardingly College and Ifield Community College, are delighted to see the recent completion of the STEM Bus interior refurbishment project. The bus has been renovated from top to bottom, inside and out, and is now ready for STEM-focused learning at both colleges, and at other local primary schools.
The bus now looks very different from its days as a working London Transport vehicle, having been converted into a mobile laboratory, classroom and design centre. Much of the equipment in the bus is powered by a solar array on the roof, which charges a 5kWh battery situated on the ground floor. There is also a screen above this, on the inverter, so the pupils entering the bus can see how much solar power is being generated by the panels.
The bus has LED accent lighting throughout, which can be changed in colour at the touch of a button. The changeable nature of the lights also allows those leading the sessions to lead the pupils, especially primary pupils, into a different and exciting environment depending on the subject.
Downstairs there are three benches with running water, a chemical waste sink and a vice. These benches will allow students to undertake experiments, as well as being the focal point for assembly for after school clubs. The benches also allow teachers to demonstrate specially configured experiments to enhance the Key Stage 2 syllabus.
On the upper deck there is a large scribble board where ideas can be shared. This design and teaching area is also equipped with two design stations, with Fusion 360 and Spyder CAD software installed. The bus itself is computer-friendly, with its own Wi-Fi linked to the internet via a mobile SIM card, and many USB charging points. To the rear of the upper deck there is a 38″ interactive teaching touchscreen, and at the front an industrial 3D twin-head printer. This room, apart from being an excellent teaching facility with all the latest software, can also be used as a design area where thoughts can be developed and then realised in 3D printed form.
The driving force behind this ambitious project was Dr. Andrew Spiers, who was awarded an MBE in 2018 for his contributions to education. Dr. Spiers has headed the project on behalf of both Ardingly and Ifield Community Colleges. He is excited about the role the bus will play in developing STEM learning locally: “We have been in contact with local primary schools and are planning dozens of visits throughout next year. The bus will play a significant role in British Science Week from the 8th to the 17th of March in 2024, we already have visit requests from many schools across the region. The idea is that we will use sixth formers from both colleges to demonstrate experiments using equipment not usually available in primary schools, to complement their curriculum. I am sure we will ignite some sparks.”
Ardingly College have posted an excellent video of the STEM Bus, on LinkedIn, you can see it here.
To read the earlier STEM Bus article, go here: https://www.gewuv.com/gew-drives-stem-bus-initiative/