Active STEM learning to increase activity levels and enhance understanding

06 March 2020


You might not know but the 6th-15th March is British Science Week… and we think outdoor play is the perfect way to get your children and to enrich their school day through active learning. Whether that means measuring activity, recording and calculating data, monitoring the impact of physical activity on their bodies or just generating and expending energy, we know that taking the curriculum outside has positive benefits for childrens’ health and well being.

It doesn’t have to be hard to take STEM learning outdoors.

Real time application maths is an essential skill to learn at school and we’ve found one of the best ways to grasp this concept is through hands-on learning. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

• Maths Mark Making. Sometimes outdoor learning can be as simple as 1,2,3. Grab some paintbrushes, water and chalk and head over to the concrete (or one of our whiteboards or chalkboards) with the little ones to practice writing those numbers.

 Number Hunt. Older children can enjoy a number hunt around the playground. Hide numbers around your outdoor space and active climbing equipment for children to find, snap pictures of or write down descriptions of where they are. Extend the activity by asking them to keep an eye out for numbers around the house or on the way home.

 Stick measuring. Get your hands grubby and go stick hunting for this activity. Ask your children to find sticks of all shapes and sizes in the playground. Bring them all back together and sort them from largest to smallest. Ask them to think about the sticks that are curved, wider or different shapes. And once they’ve done that why not get them measuring the lengths and diameters of parts of their woodland towers or fitness trails?

 Playground Shapes. Get children to pick out examples of shapes around the playground. You can even get some of the older ones measuring angles on the active climber and crossed ropes.

 Natural algebra. Learn the basics of algebra with objects found around the playground. Using these objects with chalk (and working together on a chalkboard) can help children solve basic algebra problems through teamwork.

 Hula hoop clock. Learn how to tell the time with an outdoor hula hoop clock. Made from just chalk, a hula hoop and twigs, ask the children to move the hands to the times you shout out. And once you’ve done that you could introduce our Solar Powered Stop Clock to get them timing themselves on activities.

We responded to requests for help with taking STEM outside and introduced a Mathematics and Problem Solving range. You can read a little more about its development and ideas here.



And what about other ways to take STEM into the playground? We’ve got a few ideas hidden up our lab coat sleeves…

 Experimenting with water in the classroom ends in a lot of soggy exercise books so head outside and fill up a Water Table to learn about forces and water. Fill containers with lots of different materials to see which one makes it sink first. Weights, pebbles, marbles, sand, even ice make great variables for this fun, hands-on project.

 Learning about eco-systems and the life-cycle of plants is essential in science lessons and there’s no better way to do it than seeing it up close and personal. Encourage the children to plant flowers or herbs in our Grow Planter Beds or Plant World Discovery, so that they can watch them grow and see each stage of the life-cycle in real-time. A Mini-Beast Habitat is perfect for learning about natural habitats and ecosystems. Children can watch insects make it their home over the year and see how the ecosystem forms.

HOT OFF THE PRESS: We’re delighted that we will be, once again, sponsoring the Big Science Event with Science Oxford this year. The Big Science Event is a competition aimed to encourage creative science through pupil-led investigations. It’s an amazing opportunity for Primary pupils to get hands-on with science and engage their investigatory skills. We saw some amazing presentations at last year’s Finals Day and we’re already looking forward to seeing what’s in store for 2020.

Looking for more ways to take science into your playground? And a way to spend your second wave of PE & Sport Premium funding? Our Flexi-Sport range could provide a great way to combine sports with STEM, through understanding distances, time and angles…

If you’d like to find out more about schemes to develop active STEM learning, you can talk to one of our specialists today. All of our contact details are here.

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