The STEM Festival 2018

On 8 September 2018 McLaren High School held its first ever STEM Festival – a celebration of the work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths from pupils across the McLaren cluster.  An incredible array of projects were on show and the judges on the day noted that this festival rivalled those nationally.  The work at McLaren High School was highlighted by HMIe as a key strength of the School.  Our STEM initiative was launched approximately 18 months ago and many of our pupils have been working on projects throughout that period with a view to showcasing them at the STEM Festival.  In the background our young people and staff have been working together to create an unbelievable range of projects ranging from Laser Harps to Bioluminiscent Algae.


Our thanks to DigitalXtra Fund who provided a grant to help support this initiative.  Thanks also to all the staff who gave up their time and worked behind the scenes to make the event happen including the janitorial and ICT support staff as well as Chilli’s Cafe volunteers who did us proud.   


The McLaren High STEM Festival was made up of 3 main aspects:


1.  Senior STEM Projects


Forty four of our S4-S6 pupils displayed their STEM projects for judging (twenty five girls and nineteen boys).   All of the projects were finished to an extremely high standard - in some cases we had pupils who started their projects while in S2 and were working on Advanced Higher level material.  Some of the projects included:


  • WINNER:  Eve Abernethy built a model artificial pancreas and tested it in different solutions
  • Katie Bell built a solar powered water purification system
  • Florence Dimeo (right)  carried out an investigation using electric paint to create a drawing which interacted with a user
  • Beth Dunlop carried out a study into bioluminescent algae to determine the factors which influence their luminescence
  • Niamh Gillespie designed and built an array of micro wind turbines to provide electricity inside building materials
  • Matthew Johnston built a rocket launcher and carried out an investigation into the effects on flight depending on the material used for the rocket
  • Natalie Klaes carried out a study into the accuracy of eyewitness testimony
  • Michael Limonci designed and created his own playable games controllers
  • Hannah MacCallum carried out a study into how Mathematics is used in Origami and how Origami is used in engineering
  • Ross Ronald designed and built a working model ski lift that was 2 meters long and operated at a 30 degree slope

 Involvement in these projects develop our pupils’ problem-solving, resilience and self-directed learning as well as a host of other relevant 21st Century skills.  The dedication of our young people was clear and the Big Bang judges certainly had their work cut out for them.  All of the STEM link teachers were so very proud of our young people who proved once again that McLaren is a school punching way above its weight.


The STEM festival was also a qualifying heat for Big Bang UK – a national Science and Engineering Competition – and therefore a number of our pupils will be travelling to the Big Bang UK Finals in Birmingham next March.


2.  Primary School Robotics Competition


With our support many of our associated primaries delivered a block of content on robotics and space.  Pupils were taught how to build and program the Lego Mindstorms robots to complete challenges focusing on a space theme.  Each school entered teams to compete against each other in a number of challenges on the day. On the day of the STEM festival, our ‘Tomorrows Engineers’ UK Winners assisted the running and judging of the competition.


3.  Primary School Poster Competition


As part of our STEM engagement with our cluster primary schools we invited them all to design a poster under the brief of of ‘Favourite Gadget’, ‘Farm of the Future’ or ‘New Inventions’.  Many of our associated primaries entered posters into our STEM themed competition which were displayed in a Poster Tunnel at the entrance to the festival.