This page brings together a selection of useful links, resources and websites that support science, technology, education and maths (STEM) learning in school and out, as well as inspirational links to other subjects. They are mostly aimed at Key Stages 2 and 3 (age 7-11 and 11-14), but in many cases they can be adapted for both younger and older children.
All of these sessions require materials that can be found around the home or downloaded from the website. The activities can be run as a whole teaching resource, or for shorter periods of time, elements can be picked out to challenge children.
Session 1 – Introduction to Bridges
In this session you will learn why bridges are so important to our lives, how the first bridges were built, and begin to learn the language of bridges.
Session 2 – Beam Bridges, Simple but Strong
In this session you will learn about the different types of load on bridges and will work in a team to find out more about what makes Beam Bridges strong.
NB: this requires some large masses. If you don’t have ‘dumbbells’ or exercise weights at home, food tins may work well.
Session 3 – Loads and Forces
In this session you will learn about the main forces which act on bridges – tension and compression – and understand why it is important for the forces to be balanced.
NB: A slinky is handy for this activity, but not essential.
Session 4 – Beam Bridges Challenge
In this session you will take part in a challenge to build the strongest bridge you can using just ordinary paper and sticky tape.
NB: this also requires some masses. If you don’t have ‘dumbbells’ or exercise weights at home, food tins may work well, or even lots and lots of chocolate bars.
Session 5 – Truss Bridges (Part 1)
In this session you will learn about the strongest shape for building bridges and other structures and will be introduced to a new kind of bridge.
NB: this requires K’Nex kits to demonstrate a Truss bridge easily. Some craft materials, such as paper straws, might work well to demonstrate the fact that triangles mean a long bridge can be made stronger, but it might require more guidance to achieve this.
Session 6 – Truss Bridges (Part 2)
In this session you will explore the truss bridge in more detail and learn some more of the language of bridges.
NB: one suggested activity is to get out and about to take some photos of Truss bridges. Obviously this may not always be possible: if you go to Google Maps and switch on the satellite view, you can explore your local, and not so local, surroundings to find some interesting bridges.
Session 7 – Arch Bridges (Part 1)
In this session you will be introduced to the arch bridge and learn some more new words in the language of bridges.
NB: One activity requires more than one child – it’s fun if you have sufficient people, but isn’t essential. You can find examples of arch bridges all around, using Google Maps again or simply searching for arch bridges online.
Session 8 – Arch Bridges (Part 2)
In this session you will learn more about how the Romans built arch bridges and have the chance to try building one yourself.
NB: one activity is building a Roman arch using a crisps tube (such as Pringles® tube) as the centring, some modelling clay or plasticine and some stones from the garden, so should be relatively accessible at home.
Session 9 – Materials
In this session you will find out about the main materials used to build bridges and try making some concrete.
NB: a great activity in this session is making concrete. This can easily be done at home, of course taking safety precautions as concrete can cause burns. If you don’t have the equipment or ability to do this, you could research the history of cement and what Romans used that was both waterproof, look at this website and make a fun fact sheet about concrete and it’s uses. Or perhaps try making a non-Newtonian liquid, like Oobleck, and thinking about why building on clay-based soil might be problem.
Session 10 – Suspension Bridges
In this session you will be introduced to the longest span bridges in the world, get the chance to build a human suspension bridge and learn some more of the language of bridges.
NB: all but one of the activities can be done at home, unless you have a very large family, as you will need 12 children to make a human suspension bridge!
Session 11 – Building Underwater
In this session you will learn about some of the techniques civil engineers use for building structures underwater, including how Romans built cofferdams, and will have a go at building one yourself.
NB: Building cofferdams requires quite a few bits of fairly easily obtainable, equipment, so should be possible to do at home. Alternatively, this is a decent video explaining how cofferdams work.
Session 12 – Cable-stayed Bridges
In this session you will learn about another type of bridge and understand how it is different from a suspension bridge, as well as learning a few more words in the language of bridges.
Fun and quizzes
Some shorter bridge-themed activities – including bridge bingo, word searches and a crossword – can be found here.
For activities from elsewhere on the internet, these are some interesting websites to explore STEM learning:
This has lots of ‘interesting facts’ sections, so you can learn all about space or the human body in bite-size chunks.
This website has lots of different worksheets:
This one suggests some quick and easy activities that can be done at home, to explore whether sound travels through solids.
This one has instructions on building a balloon hovercraft – if you have an old CD and a balloon lying around, it’s a really simple and fun activity, and teaches about friction at the same time!
This activity relates to the nature of science and how scientists work, getting older students to consider why scientists do the things they do.
Older children can look at the results and try to draw conclusions from the data.
Learning about forces.
This site is suitable for older children, as it covers a great deal of detail about topics such as forces, for example, using video lectures and quizzes.
This website has lots of resources to download, but you must sign up for an account before you can access any.
Lots of online maths tests to build key maths skills. Based on the American grade system, so will need to some exploring to find the right areas for each different year in the England system.
AccessibyteOnline is offering free access to its entire cloud platform of apps for blind, low vision, deaf and reading impaired students. Highly visual and fully audible typing tutor, games, flash cards and study apps.
All subjects, including STEM.
Lots of different videos on a variety of topics, including STEM.
A variety of smart videos on a range of topics.
A huge range of activity packs to support Scouts or Guides, these can largely be completed at home, including the STEM challenge badge. The packs themselves are free, but badges need to be purchased.
3D design, electronics and coding tools, you just need to register to use them.
Lots of free STEM resources for Primary and Secondary, including online investigations and profiles of individuals, such as Ada Lovelace, with a series of activities linked to it.
You can download this whole list as a pdf here.