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Francis Baily School in Thatcham holds STEM fair

Hovercraft rides and science challenges show off possibilities

John Herring

John Herring


01635 886633

Francis Baily School in Thatcham holds STEM fair

SCIENCE was in the DNA of Francis Baily Primary School when it held its STEM fair last weekend.

It was the first science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) event to be held at a West Berkshire primary school and was designed to spark young minds into taking up the subjects at the start of science week.

The fair gave visitors the chance to ride on a hovercraft, solve puzzles, see how car parts work, try on virtual reality headsets, have a go at being an air traffic controller and battle with robots. 

(More pictures from the event can be found here)

STEM presenters and local businesses and groups, including Xtrac and Newbury and Thatcham Hackspace, also attended.

The fair was hosted by the school and its parent teacher association and funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry. 

Parent, STEM ambassador and research scientist Anisa Akinlami said that STEM fairs were held frequently in Oxford for older pupils.

She said: “In the five-years my girls have been here, there have not been STEM-based activities.

“Talking to people, they didn’t know what STEM was.

“I think I just wanted a STEM influence in the area and approached the PTA.

“I think inspiring kids at a young age and trying to get them into these careers is important, especially girls.

“You don’t see many girls inspired to do that.

“We want equality and want the girls to know they can do all these things and want to teach boys that girls are equal and can do the same things.”

The fair was busy throughout its five-hour duration, with 380 tickets snapped up by 7am on the day.  

Children competed against each other and some parents, to solve escape room puzzles designed by Year 6 pupils and pupils from Kennet School.

Francis Baily head of science Stephanie Noller, who ran one of the rooms, said: “From what I can see it’s gone really well.

“I think it’s really nice to see the children excited about something else that’s not sport or dance.” 

She said a lot of work had gone into the first STEM fair in West Berkshire.

Mrs Noller added it was important to teach children STEM subjects early “so they are interested early on and there are other things they can do when they grow up”.

She said: “It broadens their horizons.”

Kennet School physics teacher Karen Tingey was showing activities run at the school’s STEM club, such as making and testing parachutes and designing and testing the durability of paper boats.

She said: “I think it’s been amazing.

“We have had people coming from 12pm and it’s been pretty manic the whole way through.

“We have seen very competitive teachers and parents as well as children. 

“The team building has been absolutely lovely. To see them working together, problem solving and asking questions.”

A raffle with prizes including a hoverboard, Amazon fire tablet, Amazon Echo dot and a telescope was also held. 

All proceeds will be used to purchase STEM equipment for each year group. 

Francis Baily PTA chairwoman Lorna Taylor said: “We have had a steady stream the whole day.

“The kids seemed to be fully engaged.

“It’s been a really good day.

“I think we have managed to reach out to the community.

“We have had children here not from Francis Baily. 

“The idea was to do it in science week.

“STEM is a thing that gets forgotten.

“Hopefully it will spark their imaginations in STEM and other types of jobs.”

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