Tag Archives: STEM

Online Mini CLPL, STEM through Stories

Hi everyone!

My name is Laura McCafferty and I am one of Falkirk’s Primary STEM Development Officers (PSDOs).  My days for this role are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Barbara Hanning, who is the other PSDO, works a Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

I thought it might be helpful to share a little bit about me with you.  I have 13 years primary teaching experience.  I have taught all stages and have also been lucky enough to cover a maternity Support for Learning Teacher role providing me with an even deeper understanding of additional support needs.  I’ve had a wide range of leadership opportunities over the years including leading World of Work and Rights Respecting Schools.

At the end of the 2018/2019 session, I was successful in gaining the role of STEM lead within St. Margaret’s Primary School where I have been a member of staff for 7 years.  This meant I would be in class three days a week and out of class for two days each week developing STEM within our school setting.

My Headteacher asked me to set up three STEM hubs in our school for P1+2, P3,4+5 and P6+7.  Unfortunately, due to building works this was put on hold when we started back after summer until after the October holidays.  In the meantime, I researched and looked at the variety of ways to implement STEM in the classroom and discovered the idea of teaching STEM through stories.  I put together a range of folders for ages 5-7, 7-9 and 9-11 (all of which are shared on our Teams page) and decided to try out ‘The Iron Man’ with my own class.  You will see from the video and further resources shared the success of this.

When I was able to get into the STEM hubs, I thought carefully about what was required to allow children to have the best experience they could.  With support and advice from Gayle Duffus at Education Scotland, she introduced me to Emily Hunt’s ’15 Minute STEM’ book.  I looked at the 40 challenges and the resources required.  I related each activity to CfE Experiences and Outcomes for staff in order for them to make links between class and hub learning.  I then developed resources further by retyping the challenges without photos or information other than the challenge to encourage thinking and problem solving skills in the children.  The other information was made up to share with staff incase they wanted to take learning further.  Finally, I made up answer booklets to go with each of the challenges, some including tally charts, measuring, bar graphs etc… so a visit to the STEM hub has lots of meaning and develops a wide range of skills as well as learning experiences.  (All of these resources are also available for you to access and use on our Teams page)

I am absolutely loving my roles of PSDO and STEM lead and although I do not have a specialism in any of the aspects of STEM, I fully appreciate its value as a learning experience to raise attainment and achievement.  STEM learning does not have to be all whizz, pop, bang experiments and infact, I would imagine most of what you already do is STEM learning, you just don’t identify it as that…..yet!

I look forward to working with you and if you have any questions or would like some support, please do get in touch.  That’s what I’m here for and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting in to meet some of you already to help you on your STEM journey.


To join our STEM – RAiSE Falkirk Team type the code is188td

All resources associated with this CLPL can be found in the team.  If you are already a member click here.

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#FalkirkSTEMpire PPE dream team, inspire a generation?

You may be aware that PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) has become a big issue in the fight against coronavirus.  Our schools have been generously donating their time and materials to produce PPE and support our frontline staff.  We would like to highlight and celebrate the importance of their efforts.

Braes High School, Denny High School, Graeme High School, Grangemouth High School, Larbert High School and St Mungo’s High School have been working in partnership to design, manufacture and deliver visors and surgical mask bands.  These have been requested by local pharmacies, care homes, dentists, GP surgeries and Forth Valley ICU.

There is a Scotland wide effort by Secondary Technical Teachers to create these types of PPE.  Designs and tips for manufacture are being shared. The designs for the PPE have evolved throughout the weeks.

So many schools have joined the effort requests for PPE are being redirected to the schools manufacturing in the closest areas to the request.

Our teacher are working to produce what they can with the technology available to them.  Some are using 3D printers, creating designs which suit the size of their equipment, use the least material and take the shortest time to manufacture.  Some schools have had more success adapting designs and using their laser cutters to speed up the process and utilise different material which they have available.  Some schools are manufacturing by hand on technical workshop benches.

The requests are being directed to the schools best suited to fulfil the requests and great partnerships are being built.

All this is an undeniable demonstration of the value of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills.  Our teachers have not manufactured PPE before nor will they have manufactured or managed a project on such a mass scale.  However they have the ability to think systematically and visualise how one change or action will affect another.  They can adapt, learn about and improve their work as they go ensuring they continue to get to the most effective solution.  They find problems and are creative in solving these problems, nothing is a permanent barrier.  They are working across schools and managing the best way to get the best outcome.  It is these STEM skills we are trying to equip our pupils with to enable them to thrive in their future.  This is a link to a Skills Development Scotland video about skills 4.0.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjfM9LKBBhE  Have a look.

Massive congratulations to our teachers and supportive school environments for the epic amount of work completed so far.  Apart from the obvious difference they are making in providing vital PPE perhaps also they might inspire us to reflect on the importance of STEM skills and the potential impact they could have on our learners’ futures.