Seeing things go bang!

There is no such thing as ‘easing back into it’, when you’re at Whitehill. These first five days back after the half term break have been full on as the curriculum was taken over by all things STEM related in our science and computing week. A huge thank you to Mr Denney for putting everything together – I think the timetable issued on Monday was version 26! Also to the staff for making his timetable come to life. You might think having a theme for a week makes a teacher’s life easy but in reality, this type of week is exhausting.

I am so glad we have swapped our social media platform over prior to this week as I have loved seeing the photos and films (I am sure they have a special name on ‘the gram’) showing the pupils loving the work they have been doing. Judging by the number of interactions, I think many of you have been enjoying them too. As an aside, even my dad has got to grips with Instagram now! Well, when I say ‘got to grips with it’, he knows which icon on his iPad opens the app up!

They soon worked out the problem with wearing the frog hats. Can you?

Monday saw the return of ‘Chemical Chris’ and his Sublime Science workshop. Every class enjoyed a session with him and I am sure lost count of the exact number of experiments they got through. He does enjoy coming to Whitehill because of the engagement and enthusiasm from the children and even carried on through lunch with a few pupils who wanted to see even more. The pupils loved seeing things go ‘bang’ and so it was good to go outside at the end of the day to launch a few projectiles.

Our friend, Chemical Chris

Tuesday started with more explosions with the return of Fully Fused Fireworks who led an assembly for us. There was some seriously advanced chemistry being shared with the pupils but even if that went over their heads a little, the indoor pyrotechnics at the end went to down a storm.

For the remainder of Tuesday, pupils visited the different classrooms to take part in a carousel of STEM activities planned by the class teachers, including architecture, buoyancy, exothermic reactions and immiscible liquids. Sounds impressive, don’t you think?

Mr Lord demonstrating an exothermic reaction

There was a giant dome in the hall on Wednesday. Each year group had a session inside where they had an Imax-style experience of a topic of their choice. Running alongside this were various other activities including some green screen work in computing. Any excuse to dress up!

Our giant dome

I am not sure what aspect of STEM I took part in on Wednesday but just to show you the varied life I lead as a head, I was doubled gloved, apron and mask firmly fixed, as I tried my hardest to unblock three urinals in the boys’ toilets. Oh what fun! I would put it down as a partial success, as Mrs Lanni still had to get on the phone to Dyno-Rod!

I would like to thank all our STEM ambassadors (parents and friends) who came into school this week or ‘zoomed’ to deliver a talk to one of our classes. The pupils were all so enthused about the presentations which included DNA, PlayStation, the RSPB, Architecture, the brain and even life in the Antarctic. I really do appreciate them giving up their time.

Having the opportunity to question the experts

There was mention of my dad giving a talk on the science behind querulousness, but he was still catching up on last week’s blog and so didn’t have time! Can you guess what querulousness means?

One of the final tasks for the Year 5s this week has been their K’Nex challenge under the expert guidance of our local STEM Ambassador (and parent), Mrs Neighbour. I am not really allowed to mention the task at this current time as it is a competition and other schools are yet to have taken part and aren’t allowed early knowledge of the brief. Needless to say, the pupils did very well indeed!

One thing I was really pleased we were able to do this year was to provide the week’s experiences without having to charge parents and carers. One of the reasons we were able to cover the costs was thanks to our amazing Friends’ Association and the support you show them. At this point, I will give their next event a plug, which are the school discos. These take place on Wednesday 20th March and tickets are on sale in the usual way.

Whilst the curriculum may have been all things STEM, that didn’t stop us having another week of interschool sport.

On Monday, two of our netball teams played against Pixmore School form Letchworth. I was able to watch most of both games and was really impressed by the progress these teams have made over the course of the year. Aidan (Year 6) couldn’t stop scoring and helped his team to a 12 – 1 win whilst on the other court, Jacob’s (Year 6) accuracy in the dying seconds secured a 6 – 4 win in a much closer game.

Great results against Pixmore on Monday

Three football teams travelled away to St Mary’s School in Baldock after school on Tuesday. It was a staff meeting night and so I was unable to watch but did get feedback from Miss Gooderham upon their return with news of three wins.

 I turned the heating down at school on Wednesday and therefore take full responsibility for the awful weather we had watching another set of fixtures after school that day. Miss Gooderham had arranged a mini-festival with three other teams: Samuel Lucas, Ickleford and St Andrew’s. The boys did so well and won all three of their matches without conceding. The final game against Samuel Lucas was won in the last few seconds to cap off a great evening.

Three wins – no goals conceded

I popped up into Year 5 after school on Thursday to see two maths challenge teams taking part in one of the heats. I stayed for a few questions and even with a maths degree struggled to answer the questions as quickly as the pupils were. We now have to wait to see how they have done and whether they qualify for the finals.

We received some really exciting news this week. Milly (Year 6) has been shortlisted to the final three of one of the eco-based competitions Mr Lord has signed us up for recently. This is an incredible achievement and we are all very proud of Milly. The date in our diaries is now 18th March, which is by when we should have found out if she is the overall winner. Fingers crossed as the prizes are amazing!

Milly’s shortlisted entry

Before we look ahead to next week, I would like to wish our Recycled Fashion Show members all the very best for tomorrow as they take part in the competition at St Chris. They have been working so hard with Mrs Davies and Miss Smith and their costumes look really imaginative.

On Sunday, Katie (Year 4), Kieran and Connor (Year 5) are competing in the national cross-country finals in Loughborough. Again, we wish these super-talented twins and their equally as talented, younger sister all the very best and cannot wait to hear how they get on.

It is back to more routine work next week for the pupils and therefore the staff.

On the sports front, there is a girls’ football festival on Tuesday; a netball fixture against Purwell on Wednesday after school; football against Oughton at home on Thursday afternoon and then a lower school cricket competition on Friday. Looking out of the window this week writing this blog, cricket is the furthest sport form my mind. Water polo would be more appropriate.

The weather was kinder on Monday

I am out and about a bit next week. I have a meeting with Hitchin TV on Monday to talk through an exciting project we are thinking about commissioning. I am at County Hall on Wednesday to meet with the Director of Education and then straight after, I am heading down to Brighton for two days of NAHT National Executive meetings. Next week’s blog will have to be published from the train on the way back on Friday afternoon.

I will finish this week’s blog with a couple of quotes from the feedback I have received relating to this week’s learning.

‘Please pass on our thanks to the team organising STEM week for the brilliant week they have organised. [My child] has come home full of it every day and it is these experiences which really make a difference to the perception of education for him!’

 I’m just back at my desk after the visit for Science and Technology week and I wanted to say a big thank you to how welcome and supported I was made to feel… The kids were amazing! Focused, engaged, producing great illustrations, and asking interesting questions. They were an absolute pleasure to meet and work with. Please can you pass on my thanks to the whole team.’

We cannot ask for more than that!

Coding in Year 4

Feel free to add to these using the comments section at the end of this blog. We would love to hear how much your children have enjoyed the week or what you think about the work the pupils have been doing.

Have a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Steve Mills









All comments (4)

    After a bit of a grumpy “I don’t want to go to school” after a lovely half term week (she didn’t really mean it) Orla came home absolutely buzzing every day after the Science & Computing activities. We want to say Thank You for putting this on, and to the PTA for funding.

    Oliver has thoroughly enjoyed every single activity he has taken part in this week. Our thanks to everyone for making this exciting week possible. You’ve all earned a rest this weekend!

    We looked forward to hearing what Seb had been up to each day! He and his friends were all buzzing about the different activities – big thanks to Mr Denney (who I think enjoyed it as much as the children) and all the staff and parents who ran activities – so inspiring!

    Science and Computing Week was great. And, as if that wasn’t enough hard work, Mrs Davies and Miss Smith then gave up their Saturday to preside over the Recycled Fashion Show in Letchworth. Really grateful for the extraordinary lengths the Whitehill team go to for our kids.

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