It’s Smart to be a Smartie

Published: 24 Apr 2018

Meet the founders of the Smarties Club, Amy, Sarita, Freya and Holly.

Over the past academic year, Scholar Amy of the 2020 STEM Scholars Programme and her team from Mark Rutherford School have been going above and beyond for their Villiers Park INVOLVE project. From running a series of after school activities for Year 7 and 8 students, to taking part in Bed Pop for British Science Week, the Smarties team have been working hard to inspire younger students to get excited about all things science.

Supported by Cambridge based software development company Arm, the 2020 STEM Scholars Programme helps a number of young people in the Bedford and Peterborough areas to pursue their interests in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

Running as part of this, the Smarties project has not only helped encourage younger students into STEM, it has equally impressed parents, head teachers and even local companies. We recently got in touch with Scholar Amy to find out where the Smarties Club all started, and what inspired her and her team to take on a Villiers Park INVOLVE project.

“We were aware of a gap in STEM related after school activities for the Year 7s and Year 8s, so we decided to create a club for these year groups. We really wanted to encourage them at that age to explore the STEM subjects and inspire them to pursue their interest in them. We especially wanted to help quieter students to build confidence in taking opportunities, and create a welcoming and inclusive club where everyone had equal chances to explore STEM.”

With these ideas in mind, the Smarties Club was soon born, a weekly after school activity which took place over ten weeks. The group meet up in free periods to plan the club, as well as assigning tasks to each team member to spread the workload and support each other.

The club’s main focus has been to help Year 7 and 8 students work towards achieving a CREST Award, focusing on the topic of engineering. “The project that we chose is called ‘Squashed Tomatoes’, and looks at sustainability in engineering, focusing on creating a structure to transport tomatoes from the top of a mountain to the bottom. Our sessions usually entail a science-related or teambuilding starter activity, followed by the squashed tomatoes project, which ran on a plan of designing, building and then testing over the course of ten weeks.”

Amy and her team have been delighted by the incredible feedback their project has seen, both from the young people involved as well as their parents. The project culminated in an activity evening at Mark Rutherford School for parents and young people, hosted entirely by the Smarties group and funded by their successful application for a grant from the British Science Association.

“What an excellent event and I love the fact it was completely staffed by girls – my son was completely engaged.” Parent of student from Scott Primary School.

“What a fantastic evening – I’m proud to see my sixth formers mixing with parents and younger students, enthusing the next generation of STEM students.” Headteacher, Richard Millard.

 

 

 

 

 

Student/Parent activity evening, hosted by the Smarties group at Mark Rutherford School in March 2018.

“It was so encouraging to see how amazed and excited they were by science, and it showed us the positive impact of our club and the hard work we had put into it.” Amy, thinking back to one of her favourite after school sessions.

Not only has the club inspired dozens of young people to get excited about science, running the INOLVE project has also greatly increased Amy’s confidence, skills and enthusiasm for pushing herself to achieve more.

“I think my involvement in the 2020 STEM Scholars Programme has made me more aware of the opportunities available to me. My confidence has also improved as I have had to speak in front of a group of students on a regular basis, whilst the project has also allowed me to develop my teamwork and decision making skills. I know I could not have got this far without my group as we have all worked so hard together.”

Looking back on her overall experiences with INVOLVE, Amy highlights how she thinks it’s such a valuable project to take part in.

“I think the great thing about the Scholars Programme is the ‘domino effect’ it seems to have on schools. Villiers Park have provided me with the amazing opportunity of running an INVOLVE project which in turn has provided other pupils at my school with opportunities to explore STEM and, in the case of Smarties, earn a CREST Award. I think that the work of Villiers Park is so valuable as it has inspired me to pursue my dreams and reach my full potential”.

Well done to Amy and her team of Smarties, the hard work they have put in over the past year has inspired students, parents and companies alike. We are immensely proud of their achievements.