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:



Today we talked about pressure. Samuel stood on some eggs in todays assembly, but they did not break! How was this possible? Please see attachment Pressure.

Science at home


Today we were treated to some experiments and demonstrations from children who had been thinking about science outside of school. Maybe you could share some science you've been doing at home?

Gravity defying balloons

If you rub a balloon on your head and then put it on the ceiling or wall it will stay there for a really long time it will stay up there for about 58 seconds. But your hair needs to be dry. - Toby

When we tried this in assembly it didn't happen. Was it because we used a different type of balloon? The surface of the wall? See if you can do it at home.


In my experiment it involves hot water, a spoon, bath slime powder, a container. First you tip the hot water into the container. Then you sprinkle very gently the powder in (I've tried dumping it in but it doesn't work, it just floats up to the top). Then you stir it. When you stir it it looks a bit like a green volcano. In the bucket it looks like water. But when you take it up it's a thick gloop. - Tierney

I wonder...

Following the assembly about hydrophobic sand, Ben wondered if something would happen if you mixed it with boiling water. It turned out that there was no difference. It didn't mean the experiment 'didn't work', as we still learnt that the temperature of the water doesn't affect how the sand behaved.

What is the slowest liquid?


Viscosity is used to describe how runny (or not) a liquid is.

In assembly we dropped marbles into cylinders containing water, cooking oil, washing up liquid and honey. The most viscous was the honey. In this photo taken an hour after the experiment , the marble still hadn't reached the bottom.

So what?

How does learning about this help in real life? Well, have you ever struggled to get the last bit of ketchup out of the bottle? With a rough estimate, there is around 6g of ketchup that gets stuck to the side of the bottle and left in as it's thrown away because it's too viscous to flow out easily. Most ketchup bottles are now plastic. There are around 650 million bottles sold worldwide each year. A standard sized bottle contains 665g of ketchup. Using these numbers we can calculate a rough esti-mate as to how many bottles worth of ketchup are wasted each year:

6g x 650,000,000 bottles = 3,900,000,000g

3,900,000,000g ÷ 665g = 5,864,661 bottles worth of ketchup wasted each year!

In the assembly some children started to come up with ideas for how to prevent this waste and reduce the amount of plastic bottles we get through. Shania suggested putting ketchup in some sort of bag so all the ketchup could be squeezed out. Benny and Isabelle thought a return to the glass bottles would reduce the amount of plastic waste. Lucas thought about collecting all the left over ketchup from different bottles to make new whole bottles. Imogen suggested the shape of the bottle could change how easily the viscous liquid could flow out. If you want to draw and/or write your own engineering ideas for this problem, please send them in to school.

Here you can see one solution scientists and engineers have come up with, which involves spraying a coating to the inside of bottles of shampoo or detergent. This stops the viscous liquid from sticking. Could this work for ketchup? Alex was concerned we'd have the opposite problem and the ketchup would flow too easily. Jamie and Will pointed out you'd have to check the coating was safe for humans.

Very viscous

Something called the pitch drop experiment was begun in 1927. Hot pitch was poured in and allowed to cool. Then the bottom of the container was removed so it could flow out. The material is so viscous, that it is still pouring (VERY slowly) today. Each drop takes about 12 years to fall!

How big could an animal be?


In assembly on Friday we looked at how big animals could be. We looked at the size limit to animals. We noticed that if an animal's size, depth and width were doubled and doubled again, the weight of the animal would be 64 times as much! Although the bones would be 4 times as large they wouldn't be able to hold up a much larger weight.

Strange ratios

Some animals are medium sized but have body parts which have strange proportions. A giraffe's neck is the same length as its leg. In the assembly we made some body parts from paper and card, using the ratios of certain creatures. You could make some at home over half term. If you measure your height, cut a strip of paper to be twice as long and put it at your mouth, you can get an idea of what it is like to be a chameleon- their tongue is really twice as long as their body! What other strange sized body parts could you make using animal size information researched online?


Animal size comparison

Tardigrades - aka water bears, these animals are tiny but incredible. I believe you may have also seen them in an Octonauts episode too!

How big can a person get?

Spicy foods


Following on from our learning about taste, we spent today's assembly finding out about why spicy food makes your mouth feel hot. Our tongues have special tiny receptors which can detect heat (as in temperature). If the receptors sense something hot, it will send a message to the brain to let it know.

Spicy food contains something called capsaicin which, by chance, gets stuck on the heat sensing recep-tors of your tongue. So they still send a message to your brain giving you a sensation of burning, even though it isn't hot (as in temperature).

Try eating spicy food at home with an adult. Does it feel like your mouth is hot or burning? Does your body react in the same way as when you are normally hot (sweating, feeling thirsty etc.).

Question to investigate at home:

What are the best ways to cool your mouth down after eating spicy food? Is water the best thing to have? What other food and drink could you try? How do you know it was better than the others? If you don't like eating spicy food you could ask a friend or someone in your family if they don't mind being experimented on! Record what you find out and bring or send it in to school. You must do this with an adult.

Schoville Scale

Wilbur Schoville was a pharmacist who, in 1912, came up with a scale as a way to measure how spicy some-thing is.

Web links

Kids try spicy foods video - What gives it away that the boy wearing orange is find-ing the food too spicy?

Explaining spicy food - Ted Ed animation.

Brain freeze - Ever had a headache after eating ice-cream?

It's boiling!


Over the last few weeks, a lot of children have been trying to freeze different mixtures at home to see what would happen. After looking at a lot of results we found out that some things like oil or butter didn't freeze or became harder but not completely frozen. In assembly we looked at how freezing and boiling at 0 and 100 degrees Celsius was only for water. Other things 'freeze' or 'boil' at different temperatures.

How cold can it get?

The Kelvin scale has 0 degrees as 'absolute zero' which is what scientists think is the very coldest it can get anywhere in the universe! In Celsius it would be -273°. You'd think that was cold, but at -270°C, Helium boils from a liquid to a gas. See the YouTube links below for other materials which are liquid or boil at surprising temperatures.

Colourful sand?

Lucas in Green Class was wondering if he could colour sand by putting it in a bottle of water with some orange food colouring.

The sand didn't change colour. It doesn't mean the experiment 'didn't work'. We learnt from it. I wonder why the sand didn't change colour?

Bouncing science!

At home, some children in yellow decided to try and make the bounciest and least bounciest ball. You could work on this over the summer or answer another question someone had…

Can things bounce underwater?

Web links:

Gallium - Melt a metal!

Liquid Hydrogen - Boiling things be-low 0°C.

Does water always boil at 100°C?

David Bailey (

STEM news

Kitchen experiments with the kids

A newspaper recently published great article about some messy kitchen experiments that you could try with your children (link).

Explosive science behind firework

Occasions like Bonfire Night, New Years Eve, Diwali and the Fourth of July weekend are marked by fireworks displays every year. But the flare and skill of fireworks today wouldn't exist, without some simple, but clever, chemistry.

So how do fireworks work exactly? How are they made – and how do they get their different colours?

The Royal Society of Chemistry's Dr Joanna Buckley invited the BBC to the chemistry laboratories at the University of Sheffield to take a closer look at the science behind fireworks.

LINK to BBC video.

Goats drawn to "Happy human faces"

tAs we have Alfie and Basil, the school goats in residence, I thought this article would be of interest about goats being drawn to happy human faces. Link to BBC article.

From CBeebies: 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.

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 area by the doors to the main hall. If you're unsure where to look, just ask.


Yellow class are currently learning about space and some 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.

Micah Shergold (Yellow Class) really enjoyed the 100 pennies paper bridge challenge.

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: tbc

Cool Chemistry - 30th July 2019 - The Observatory Science Centre. Full day workshop for 6-8 years old. Find out what makes things fizz, bang and pop in some crazy chemistry experiments. It's full on fun and you get to try the experiments yourself as well as watching some pretty spectacular demonstrations. £25 per child. 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!