STEMtastic 2019

What an amazing day the SOLAR outreach team had teaching 365 very excited primary school children all about STEM… really was STEMtastic!

Our Team

Our SBMS students, Gokul Krishnan, Sophie Amato, and Molly Johnson joined Dr Vanessa Armstrong and Dr Beth Lawry at the Centre For Life to inspire the next generation of scientists at STEMtastic 2019.

Our fantastic scientists, Gokul, Sophie, Molly and Vanessa all set to teach the children about the heart and exercise

STEMtastic is an event organised by the West End Schools’ Trust (WEST) and aims to raise aspirations in children aged 10/11 from the Primary Schools in the West End of Newcastle, encouraging them to think about careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). This year the event was held at the Centre For Life and saw volunteers from around the North East come together to inspire the next generation of STEM enthusiasts.

STEMtastic 2019 at The Centre For Life with 365 primary school children from the West End of Newcastle

There were famous faces

Steph McGovern from BBC breakfast hosted the day and her North-Easterly charm did not disappoint, making the children giggle from the off and really engage with the day. As you can see by all the hands, Steph got the children eager to ask questions and get involved. Steph also had the children up on stage, interviewing the speakers and taking along items from their STEM sessions.

Steph McGovern from BBC Breakfast getting the children raring and ready for their STEMtastic day

We took along Tommy the Torso, models of the heart, stethoscopes, ECG, oximeters and lots of card and red t-shirts. All of this kit was used to run a heart and exercise session, aimed at engaging the children to learn about the body using fun activities.

Tommy the Torso, the heart model and stethoscopes ready for action

We got the children to be a model circulatory system, collecting oxygen from the lungs, travelling through the heart and delivering the oxygen to the muscles to be used for energy. The muscles then gave the ‘red blood cells’ the waste carbon dioxide to be taken back to the lungs via the heart. Our SBMS students were brilliant, showing the children where to go and how the oxygen moves around the body.

The second part of the session required a volunteer from the children, who we hooked up to our ECG, a machine that looks at the electrical activity of the heart. The kids were fascinated by the rhythm of the heart, watching the trace peak with every beat, and they loved it when our volunteer tensed their muscles sending the ECG into a shock of rapid, spikey waves due to the electrical interference of the muscles.

Electrocardiogram (ECG) trace of the electrical activity of the heart. The spikes are the heart squeezing/pumping the blood. (Image courtesy of

The final part of the session had the children using stethoscopes to listen to their heart and count the beats per minute (bpm). Our SBMS students then tasked the children with doing some exercise, they brilliantly hopped, ran on the spot, did star jumps or moved their arms and our SBMS students did a fantastic job of encouraging all of the children to join in. Even Dr Lawry and Dr Armstrong was jumping around getting the kids to join in!
The children measured their bpm after exercise and then told us why it went up, with a little help from our SBMS students to get to the answer.

The children loved the session and told Steph McGovern all about it when they got back up on stage with their stethoscope and the model heart. We were extremely pleased to hear the 10/11 year olds tell Steph in detail about the heart rate increasing after exercise as the muscles needs more oxygen and so the heart needs to pump more blood around the body.

Our SBMS students also had great fun with Sophie, studying Biomedical Sciences, stating “I really enjoyed sharing my passion for Science and inspiring the young children to become interested in careers in STEM”

Some of our SOLAR team down at the Centre for Life running a workshop for STEMtastic 2019


Thank you  WEST Schools’ Trust for inviting us.

Thank you to our volunteers, you were fab!

If you’d like to get involved with SOLAR, our SBMS school outreach team, then please email



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