Clifton College holds STEM Day for pupils' missions to Mars


Bristol boarding school invites pupils to attend a day dedicated to science and space exploration

Clifton College Preparatory School held a special Mars-themed STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics) day for pupils.  

The co-educational independent school challenged pupils to take part in a exploratory mission to Mars, with specific year groups assigned different tasks that would promote independent ideas and problem-solving skills.

Pupils were separated into teams and given a purpose-built brief which would allow them the opportunity to think creatively, grow their problem skills, and garner an understanding of financing a large scale project.

The tasks ranged from constructing paper rockets using materials paid for through allocated credits, to testing different systems in order to purify grey water and ensure it was suitable for human consumption.

Year 4 built paper rockets to launch their explorers to Mars, while Year 5 created landers and rovers which were tested by dropping the landers off the roof of a boarding house. Year 6 were in charge of ablative shielding. They used a blow torch against an egg for three minutes with a very thin shield in between and had to find a way to help the egg resist breaking. Year 7 tested different systems to purify grey water and make it suitable for human consumption, and Year 8 designed a Martian base. 

Following completion of the assigned challenges, teams were then tasked with presenting their findings to a board of teachers in order to amass funding for their proposed ideas. Selling the products would go towards providing a sustainable environment for life on Mars.

To get a better understanding of exploring space and support their mission to Mars, pupils also took part in a series of interactive science shows in a planetarium dome set up in the Prep Hall. Pupils learned that aside from having knowledge and good ideas, marketing is also an important part of science. 

Talking about the day, Clifton’s Head of Science, Tom Harris, said: 

“STEM Day gives pupils a chance to work on projects that challenge adults and know that their ideas are just as valid as others, that there is no expert solution but there are ways to work together to find a solution. 

“STEM is a way of making people realise that the things that we take for granted in this country have to be made, built, designed, thought through, even inspired in the first instance to exist; and it’s that opportunity for pupils to have their own moment of inspiration that makes a day like this worthwhile. It also allows us to celebrate the successes of the pupils and give them the chance to show what they did to help their explorer survive.” 

About Clifton College 

Clifton College is an independent boarding school located in Bristol. Having been founded in 1862, the establishment has a long standing association with success within science. 



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