Year 12 complete science project for their IB Award

On Wed 14th September the Year 12 IB pupils completed their Group 4 Project in Science.

This project is a collaborative investigation where students are placed in groups and work together to design and carry out a scientific experiment into a given theme. This is a compulsory part of the IB qualification, teaching valuable skills such as teamwork, communication, presentation and the scientific method.

This year the theme was ‘Power and Energy’. The students can interpret this theme however they wish and unlike other lessons where they are given a protocol, with this project they design their own experiments. They were given 2 hours on the Saturday before the practical day to do this and submit their requests and carried out the investigation on the following Wed. This year we had a variety of different experiments on this theme, including:

  • Which fruit/vegetable makes the best projectile?
  • Does a wind tunnel increase electricity output?
  • Do the angle and shape of blades on a wind turbine effect electricity generated?
  • Which foods contain the most stored energy?
  • Which fuels contain the most energy per gram and are the most efficient to use?
  • How does changing the layers of cling film in a home-made solar pizza oven affect the time to prepare a melted marshmallow biscuit?

The students then prepared a presentation and presented their data in a ‘symposium’ style, with students from across the school coming round to discuss their investigation with them. The students then celebrated completing the project with a pizza evening with Mrs Futter. This was a huge success and the students worked fantastically well together, producing some excellent projects in such a short period of time. It was a great opportunity for the new IB cohort to get to know each other and new friendships were made. Well done to everybody involved and thanks to the Science teaching and technical staff for all of their hard work in making this such a success.

VEX Robotics Competition and STEAM activities

Recently, some of our pupils participated in a regional VEX robotics competition at Nottingham University. They showed fantastic resilience, resourcefulness and teamwork at the event and we were so pleased to reach the semi-finals.

In our Makerspace, pupils have continued to develop the electric cars that will soon be racing at race tracks nationally against other schools. Students have been experimenting with a wide variety of projects including drone designing; building and racing; soldering stereo speakers and making casings; and developing self-levitating fly-wheels.

Year 7 STEAM activities

Year 7 pupils spent an afternoon in the Dyson Building, participating in a range of STEAM activities.

The afternoon was part of a preparation for the upcoming Year 6 Outreach programme which will welcome more than 550 pupils from over 20 local primary schools. The activities include making electromagnets; making and racing balloon cars; making and testing model boats; and robotics with ‘Sphero bots’.

Pupils from the Prep school have been making powered gliders on a Saturday afternoon in the Dyson Building and will soon be having a competition to see which group can make theirs go the furthest.

STEAM week was a great success

This year’s STEAM week was a great success. Pupils from across the Senior School had the opportunity to take part in various activities, ranging from a paper plane competition to hearing from one of our OGs, who is the Aerodynamicist for F1 McLaren Racing. Further activities included:

  • Michelle and Charlotte from Canham Consulting joined us in the Makerspace to discuss roles in the Engineering industry whilst supporting Junior and Senior pupils while they made paper planes.

  • OG Kunz Chow gave a talk to Senior and Junior pupils on his role as an Aerodynamicist for F1 McLaren Racing. He even brought some real F1 kit that the pupils loved – including a helmet that Fernando Alonso has used!

  • Junior and Senior pupils took part in a paper plane competition to see who could make and throw a paper plane the furthest through the Dyson Building. Winners received a trophy and vouchers.

  • We welcomed Emma and Liz from Costain to give an inspiring talk during chapel on the HS2 project and to promote STEAM industries to female pupils. Emma and Liz then joined lessons in the Dyson building for relaxed Q & A sessions.

  • Marcus Stead-Hall gave a talk during the Wednesday evening of STEAM week on his role as a Simulation performance engineer for Red Bull Racing and he gave advice on the best educational route for pupils aspiring towards similar roles. Over 100 pupils attended this meeting online from 5 different local schools.

Careers and the STEAM coordinator worked closely for STEAM week to organise a variety of industry speakers throughout the week and a careers fair which all Houses and pupils attended to showcase to pupils the diverse variety of roles and employment within STEAM. Twenty-seven employers, including nine OGs attended from creative, engineering, environment, conservation, medical, aviation, construction, renewable energy, science, technology, aerospace services sectors to talk to pupils about their projects and day-to-day work. This gave pupils an opportunity to understand more about how their STEAM education may be reflected in potential careers in industry.

If you would like further information on the STEAM Fair please contact Head of Careers, Sue Osborne at [email protected]

Video created by the Gresham’s Digital Leaders

Little Shop of Horrors production included STEAM example

For our recent production of The Little Shop of Horrors, Animatronic Audrey II was created through a collaboration between the Drama, Art and Computing departments, with Anna P S and Chloe-Leila G particularly involved. The plant pot contains a web server running on a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W, which was powered by Li-ion batteries during the performances; a separate set of batteries was used to power the servo motors. This is a fantastic example of a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) education.

The Animatronic Audrey II is currently on display in the Dyson Building, where pupils have the chance to control it using the school wifi network. Pressing the buttons on the web page sends HTTP commands to the web server, which are then queued for execution by a separate thread in the server application.

Year 1 enjoyed their tour of the Dyson Building

Year 1 went for a tour around all of the different rooms in the new Dyson Building. They saw computers, painting and exciting Science going on all around them! The children were so excited to have the opportunity to create their own piece of art using iPad controlled robots! The background music inspired their creativity and added to the effect, as the paint was drawn around the HUGE canvas by our robots. The finished result is a masterpiece which they have great plans for… this space!

Full STEAM ahead!

Since the start of September pupils have enjoyed a vast range of STEAM activities and there are many more to come throughout this academic year for our Senior, Prep, Pre-Prep and Nursery pupils, as well as external primary and secondary school pupils.


Activities that are ongoing:

  • Vex Robotics.
  • Electric car building and racing.
  • Painting and glass art with Chemistry.
  • Science practical skills.
  • Electronics
  • 3D Printing.
  • Lego robotics.
  • Artificial Intelligence Robotics (Pose estimation and AI cars).
  • Arduino and Raspberry Pi programming.

Activities starting soon:

  • Drone building and racing.
  • Building a remote control Mars rover.
  • Sensing circuits.
  • Crest Awards.

Prep School

Pupils have been attending sessions in the Makerspace on a Saturday afternoon to build and fly a power glider in groups. They will compete to see who can build a glider that will fly the furthest from one full capacitor discharge.

Pre-Prep and Nursery

Pupils have been attending session in the Makerspace on a Friday morning. Activities have included making LED torches, making an art masterpiece with robots and dancing along to a robot song that reception pupils have learnt. STEAM Ambassadors from the senior school have been supporting this activity with vigour.


STEAM week will soon be upon us. Activities range from a paper plane competition, talks with F1 engineers to a STEAM Careers fair with over 30 businesses attending (parents are more than welcome to attend this on the Friday) and a trip to Thursford Collection and light displays. Please see below for a list of activities:

STEAM Outreach

From February 2022 we will welcome over 600 pupils from 30 local primary schools to the Dyson Building. Gresham’s staff will run a series of engaging activities with groups of pupils on a Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. Activities will include robotics, model boat building and rocket car building. Pupils that were enthusiastic, engaged and performed well will be invited back in the summer holiday for a final competition with prizes for winning students (and T-Shirts for all!).

We have been in close communication with the James Dyson Foundation and they will soon be bringing Dyson Institute graduates to work alongside our pupils at the Senior and Prep schools. We continue to grow our community of ‘STEAM Ambassadors’ and we are also seeing some of our first students going ‘rogue’ with STEAM projects throughout the Dyson building.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Mr Hazelwood – [email protected].

Reception class enjoyed using robots to create modern art

Our Pre-Prep Reception class had a great time during their Senior School visit to the Dyson Building. The children worked with Mr Hazelwood to learn how to control the sphero bots, which teach programming and computer science while encouraging exploration, experimentation, and creativity. With the help our Year 12 STEAM ambassadors, the children controlled the paint-covered robots with a tablet to create a modern piece of art that will be displayed in the Pre-Prep School.

Will is creating a Geodesic Dome in the Dyson Building

Year 13 pupil Will has been working hard making a Geodesic Dome in the Dyson Building Makerspace. He has been inspired by Richard Buckminster Fuller, who was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist. Find out more:

Update from our STEAM Coordinator, Robert Hazelwood

STEAM is an approach to teaching that develops resilience, curiosity and learners who are not afraid to fail, they learn from their mistakes and collaborate with others.

The shift from STEM to STEAM is an important one in my opinion. The ‘A’ in STEAM can often be interpreted as ‘Art’, and this can give people a vision of adding an element that simply incorporates the skill of painting or drawing. The ‘A’ stands for all Arts including; humanities, language arts, dance, drama, music, visual arts, design and new media.

The ‘A’ in STEAM adds massive value to pupils’ approach to the Sciences and Technology. As a Physics teacher I often observe pupils that have good problem-solving skills and deductive reasoning, however pupils that have been exposed to the Arts more during either lesson time, as a co-curricular or super-curricular subject are generally much more able to think critically and collaborate with peers and the wider world. These skills lead to innovative and communicative pupils, that leave school with a well-rounded skill set that prepares them better for the real working world.

STEAM education should be inclusive. It allows all pupils to realise their strengths and develop their weaknesses, whilst passively applying all STEAM subjects towards an engaging project. At the start of this new academic year we have started many activities that effortlessly enable students to improve their hard and soft skills. Music teachers learn alongside pupils whilst using electronics and programming to turn carrots into a piano! Computing teachers are working with the Drama Department to design, make and code a character for an upcoming performance. We will welcome external primary schools to visit the Dyson building and complete a series of STEAM challenges whilst working collaboratively. We will hold national and international robotics competitions. Junior pupils are building LEGO Sumo bots on a Tuesday during GAPs and we have senior and junior VEX robotic teams that have the possibility of travelling to Texas USA if they make the final. Other activities include; Painting with Chemistry, Eco STEAM, Electronics and 3D printing, Build and race an electric car, Practical Science skills, AI Robotics. We aim to add and change activities on a termly basis.

There will be a STEAM week on 29th November – 5th December when we will welcome external speakers during chapel, hold a STEAM careers fair for STEAM industries to showcase their work with ‘hands on’ interaction. There will be competitions during STEAM week and possibly an opportunity for students to try gliding across the school field! There will be a school trip on the Sunday to promote STEAM.

Pupils have missed so many opportunities over the past couple of years to be ‘hands on’ and ‘make stuff’ due to the Covid pandemic. They are thirsty for practical projects and play. Play is underestimated, there is much research that shows when pupils are happy and engaged they accelerate their learning and are able to handle a much higher ‘traffic’ of information.

Robert Hazelwood

STEAM Coordinator