Science Technology Engineering Mathematics

Welcome to the STEM web page. At West Chiltington School, we would like all our children to nurture a keen interest across these subjects.

However, we are aware that recent statistics show that in the UK: women make up only 8% of engineers; only 10% of managers in STEM careers are women; and only 10% of STEM businesses are owned by women. If we bring this analysis back to education: 49% of state schools send no girls to study A-level physics, and of those students who are taking an A-level in the subject, only a fifth are girls - despite getting similar grades at GCSE as boys.

We have set up this web page to highlight the work that the school and parents are doing to bring STEM opportunities into the classroom and at home for all children in order to encourage their interest.

If you have any STEM related contribution to make, please contact

This week's STEM assembly: Inertia


The Table Cloth Trick

Today's science assembly had all the feel of a magic show as we attempted to pull a tablecloth out from under a plate, bowl and mug without touching them. This video shows an example of how it's done. With permission from your adult at home - could you perform the tablecloth trick?

How does it work?

This explanation is from 'Science Museum Learning':

The tablecloth and the table are both smooth. There is not much friction between the two, and when you pull the table-cloth away it can slide out from under the crockery. The only force acting on the cups and teapot is gravity, pulling them down. As there was no force from you, pushing or pulling on the cups and teapot, they stayed where they were.

This demonstrates the first part of Newton's first law of motion (objects remain at rest or travelling at constant speed unless a force acts on them to change their motion) and helps us understand inertia. Inertia is the tendency for an object at rest to remain at rest until a force acts on it. In terms of the Tablecloth Trick, inertia is important because, according to the law, the objects (the cups and teapot) will not move unless an outside force moves them.

Tablecloth trick websites and videos:

Mythbusters - See them try to do the tablecloth trick on a much bigger scale!

Slow motion video of a tablecloth trick.

Inertia in real life

You might notice that when you stand on a bus and it stops suddenly, your body moves forwards. Although the brakes have made the bus and your feet/legs stop, there has been no change in the forces acting on the rest of your body, so it continues to move forwards.

Who Was Isaac Newton?

From 'Science Museum Learning':

Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) was an English scientist.

He admired a scientist who died shortly before he was born called Galileo Galilei. He believed (like Galileo) that the world was similar to a machine and that a few mathematical laws could explain how it worked.

We all know Newton for discovering the theory of gravity after watching an apple fall in an orchard (it never really fell on his head!).

Previous STEM assembly: Hot or Cold ?


In assembly we looked at what happens to air when it gets heated or cooled. We learnt about the molecules getting more energy when they were heated up, which meant they moved quicker and spread out, making warm air less dense than cooler air.

The experiment we did was similar to this one where we used water rather than air, which behaves in a similar way and is a bit easier to control! If you want to repeat the experiment at home remember to get an adult to help with the hot water. Better still, maybe you want to set up your own experiment to see what happens with different temperatures of water. As always, please send in photos, videos, drawing or writing for any science you get up to at home!

Hot air balloons

Hot air balloons are filled with ordinary air that is heated with a gas burner. The gas doesn't make the balloon fly itself, but it heats up the air inside the balloon. The air gets more energy and expands making it less dense than the cold air around it. The warm air is lighter and so it rises up.

How does the pilot make the balloon come back down?

Warm air currents

You can't see warm or cold air, but you can see the effect it has. Try this at home: In a cold room, put a heater on. Blow bubbles across the top of the heater and watch what happens. Can you predict what will happen to the bubbles? Why did that happen?


Air can vary in temperature and also how much moisture it has in it. Yellow class have been learning about what air conditions are needed for hurricanes to form – click here if you think you could create a hurricane!

Hot and cold air/water websites and videos:

Hot and cold air


What is a mirage?

Hot and cold water

Ice experiment

Candles can make water rise experiment


It turns out that birds are sci-entists too! See how they use their learning about warm air rising to help them fly on this video.

David Bailey (

STEM news

From CBeebies this week: 6 ways to help children think like engineers

A wonderful article here from the CBeebies website with some great ideas for how to get younger children engaged in STEM activities.

Car launched into space!

Continuing the theme of strange things launched into space this week. Elon Musk has launched his own Tesla into space in a spectacular launch on 6 February.

For more information and video clips on the launch please see The Guardian article here .

Disco ball launched into space!

New Zealand has launched a disco ball into space which orbits the earth every 90 minutes and is visible from Earth. They have called it the Humanity Star and have launched it to create a shared experience for everyone on Earth. Humanity Star is designed to be "a bright symbol and reminder to all on Earth about our fragile place in the universe". You can read more about it in the BBC article here.

Humanity star website.

STEM Boxes.......are here!

STEM boxes are self-contained fun experiments in a box that your children can take home with them from school. They contain the instructions and all the equipment that you and your child will need to try the experiment. They also contain feedback forms which we will read when you return the box to help us develop the boxes further.

If you haven't yet taken a box, or you would like to take a new one, remind your child to take one or feel free to pop in before or after school and sign one out from the cupboard in the craft room. If you're unsure where to look, just ask.


Yellow class are currently learning about space and two interesting questions have come from the class:

Why does the moon change shape?

I found a good children's video on YouTube to explain it here.

As well as learning about the moon, the question also raises good topics such as light travelling in straight lines, and how it reflects off of some things, and can lead to further experiments with torches and mirrors.

Why are planets round?

A very interesting question introducing the concept of gravity. See here for a great children's space website explaining the answer.

Where are we in the whole universe?

There is a great answer in this amazing video sent in by one of the Yellow Class parents: video.

Please send your children's questions (and any answers you have found if you have them!) to


Please send us your pictures of your children enjoying STEM activities.

Charlie & Rupert Head-Parsons (Purple & Green), trying out the 'Fun with density' STEM box at home. They loved working out whether each ingredient would sink or float.

Poppy Hearnshaw (Green Class) enjoying the Make Your Own Volcano experiment: "Poppy had great fun making the volcano. After completing the experiment we went on to have lots of fun with our own ingredients."

Finley Harvey (Green Class) making and experimenting with slime:

Yellow Class painting paper mâché planets:

Fun facts!

Tim Peake's five fun facts about space flight here.

Cool maths trick for remembering 9 times tables:

Here is a mind-blowing maths trick It goes like this for remembering your 9 times tables.

Example: 9 x 3

Put both hands up with 10 fingers/thumbs. Put your third finger from the left down on your left hand. Then count the number of fingers on the left side of that finger (here you get 2) and on the right side of the finger (you get 7). Put those numbers together (27) and there's your answer. 9 x 3 = 27.

It works all the way up to 10 x9. So cool.

Up and Coming Events

Next STEM committee meetings - all welcome: 23rd March 13:30pm at school.

14th -17th March 2018 - Big Bang Science Fair - Birmingham NEC (website link) - see below for the Southeast version of this event.

9th June 2018- Horsham STEMfest, at Carfax, Horsham - in it's second year (details here). This is a one day pop-up celebration.

27th-28th June 2018 - Big Bang Fair - South East. Venue: South of England Showground, Ardingly. (website link).

Useful Articles

The Engineering Gap - November 2016 [BBC Website]

To get more women in STEM little girls need better role models - February 2017 [The Conversation]

Getting in early to avoid stereotyping careers - April 2015 [The Conversation]

Waterloo Bridge's WW2 women recognised for the first time - June 2015 [BBC News} and The Ladies Bridge - [WES website]

Olympic gymnast Beth Twaddle urges youngsters to study maths and science to preventskills shortage - October 2015 [The Mirror]

A teen just trying to figure it out - Tavi Gevison - March 2012 [TED talk]

Science is for everyone kids included - Beau Lotto & Amy O'Toole - June 2012 [TED talk]

Places to visit

Royal Institute of Science - London

South Downs Planetarium and Science Centre - Chichester

The Observatory Science Centre - Hailsham, East Sussex

The Science Museum - London

The Big Science Fair - Birmingham NEC

Kidzania - London

Winchester Science Centre - Winchester

If you visit any of these places or spot a great event coming up, please let us know and we will post it to the web page!