Questions are one of the hallmarks of a curious mind, giving voice to our passions and inquisitiveness. To question shows bravery and a willingness to learn, but also vulnerability. Many of the experiments we shared in Junior School during Science Week highlighted our girls’ ability to formulate rich and thought-provoking questions: How deep is the ocean and how do you find out? When do fish sleep? How did the litter get there? Why do communities overfish? How many scientists are girls? Can you really live on a floating island?
We have an ever-present love of science and all things STEM at Ruyton and this is not just because we value hands on learning and experiments that often leave us with more questions than answers (although it does make learning so much fun!). Rather, our passion for girls in STEM is grounded in our knowing that STEM-based learning kindles skills and dispositions for lifelong learning, particularly the way it invites and values intellectual curiosity. It encourages girls to wonder, to make observations, to hypothesise and adjust. However, it does so in an environment where their thoughts and observations are not being continually measured or judged. We call these experiences ‘low stakes’ opportunities where the learning is highly valued but not continuously tested. At a young age, scientific concepts can be challenging to fully understand. Therefore, in STEM we focus on what your daughter can see or do, rather than always focusing on the why. This enables her to confidently answer questions and experience success. ‘What is happening to the bubbles?’ is much more accessible for her to respond, rather than ’Why do bubbles stick together?’, and promotes further discussion. We often hear that we all make mistakes during the learning process but science is a good way to focus on what can be learnt from the mistake or error before moving on or having another go.
Head of Junior School
Ruyton Girls' School