In 2019, St Joseph’s In The Park once again hosted its biennial STEM festival. The Big Bang @ St Josephs In The Park had ‘Tomorrow’s World’ as its theme and the hands-on, minds-on learning of the 150 children, who visited from local state schools, was firmly focused on acknowledging, understanding and tackling the issues of the future.
Workshops were presented by Setpoint, local independent secondary schools and STEM ambassadors, who enhanced the STEM curriculum by providing fun and interesting activities, including acid rain and its cause and effects, avoiding plastic, asthma and respiratory problems, ‘from mouthwash to saving babies’ lives’, air pollution and its effects on the unborn child, 3D printing for spacecraft, the use of optics to transmit sound, structures, space, Mathematics and team problem-solving.
Since 2015, St Joseph’s In the Park have visited QMUL to learn about bioengineering. Most recently, QMUL visited St Joseph’s during our Big Bang. Dr Tina Chowdhury, Senior Lecturer in Regenerative Medicine, wrote about the learning which took place that day:
The children learnt why some mothers could not give birth to a baby at the right time and instead the babies were born too early making it difficult for the baby to breath and survive in the real world. To help keep the baby alive in the mother’s womb, the children designed a technology in bioengineering that could stop the fetal membranes from breaking too early and help save babies lives.
The children investigated how biomaterials such as seaweed could be used to fix the hole in the fetal membranes after the tissue was torn or broken due to infection or bleeding. The children designed materials that were sticky, similar to glues and adhesives and also tried to tape the hole with a tissue patch by combining stem cells and seaweed. One child used glues secreted by sea slugs to stick the hole together but realised that the tissue was no longer stretchy like a balloon and was too fragile.
The investigations in bioengineering, biomechanics and regenerative medicine are examples of the real-life technologies that have been used by doctors to plug, seal and repair the hole in fetal membranes.