Sydenham High girls get curious

This week we launched a new bespoke programme for years 7 & 9, whilst year 8 were on their activity residential at Ferny Crofts. Curioso has been designed with four broad areas in mind:

  • Being an active citizen
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
  • Languages (Modern and Classical)
  • The Arts: Creative and Performing

The programme suspended the usual timetable from Wednesday to Friday to provide pupils with exciting learning opportunities and experiences, delivered as a series of enriching events. The idea behind Curioso is to engage pupils in a challenging and engaging way that extends and enthuses their curricular appreciation, to further develop pupil employability skills and competencies, to engage pupils in thinking about potential careers in the future and to give pupils experience of university style teaching and learning. Some job roles do not exist yet, so future generations need to be adaptable and have a skills and competencies ‘toolkit’ that they can access.

A range of employability skills and competencies were focused on, including problem solving, communication, creativity, numeracy, digital skills, risk taking and reflection.

Wednesday 26 June

Year 7: Model United Nations

The pupils were introduced to the history and remit of the United Nations and explained the concept of Model United Nations as a forum for young people to mimic the UN, representing countries as delegates and debating contentious issues whilst proposing policy changes. The day kicked off with a presentation from Claire Roberts Lamont, UNHCR, who spoke passionately about her work at the UN Refugee Agency, including a story about Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini who swam for three hours in the sea to push a sinking boat carrying 20 to safety and then became an Olympic swimmer in 2016.

The pupils were split into teams and allocated a country before researching their topic and creating proposed resolutions and a policy statement prior to their debates in the afternoon. There were four groups with different topics:

ECOSOC (Economic & Social Council)
– The question of the protection of endangered wildlife
– The question of intensive meat farming

SOCHUM (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural Committee)
– The question of human trafficking
– The question of mental health in conflict zones

Year 7 responded maturely and intelligently to these serious topics and were awarded prizes for their efforts.

Year 9: Smart Build – National Grid/Smallpeice Trust

Year 9 spent the day thinking about energy and clean water supplies as 21st century engineering challenges. Pupils worked in small teams of 6 to design and build a system to filter, collect, detect and pump collected rainwater as part of an integrated system on a new smart building. Each team then had to build a watertight water-collection unit, including a filtration system. They also had to assemble and solder an electronic water-detector and make a circuit for an electric pump in order to detect and then pump the water which has been collected. This water could be used to flush toilets and water plants in the smart building. The groups all worked very well together and created some intelligently thought out designs, carefully thinking about the cost options and analysing the efficiency of their designs along the way.

Congratulations to our winning team consisting of Charu Molyneux-Lyons, Elisa Morris, Ella Salau, Ella Weiss, Emilia Beveridge and Emily Glover.

The students were a credit to not only themselves but also the school. I witnessed very bright students who were hungry to succeed, keen to “push back” where they felt it useful and appropriate. Their manners and excellent discipline was very evident as well as their enthusiasm.

— Phil, Lennard, Smallpeice Trust

Thursday 27 June

Year 7: Forensics

Day 2 of Curioso saw year 7 exploring a crime scene and learning about forensic science. They discovered how you can use science to help solve crimes, including what you would do at a crime scene to avoid contamination and how to make discoveries from the environment the body is found in. Pupils studied evidence such as blood, soil and fingerprints and compared each to the 5 suspects they were provided with. The day culminated in a mock court trial where an expert witness from each group presented their findings and then the judge made her decision, assisted by a panel of jurors. In the end the suspect was found to be guilty and apologised for the kidnapping of Ms Sookdeo’s monkey and pupils learnt not to show prejudice because of someone’s past if they are truly remorseful!

Year 9: Active Citizen

Meanwhile, year 9 heard from MP Brenda Dacres who told them about her role and how proud she is to be a female MP covering transport and highways, traditionally male dominated areas. Though she is no stranger to this given her degree in Physical Sciences and Computing. She strongly advocated young women to stand up and go for things, even if you don’t feel 100% confident as we can do more than we think- something that was emphasised at the Jo Cox Women in Leadership course she attended. She also spoke about the importance of civic roles and how to get involved, reminding us all that there is no age limit for this and how everyone can speak up about things they feel passionate about and turn negatives into positives. The pupils then took on the idea of advocacy and changing the system from within by going on to workshops on ideologies and political issues before writing a manifesto on a topic of their choice, ready to present at assembly tomorrow.

Friday 28 June

Year 7: French film and production & Creative Arts Carousel

On Fearless Friday, Curioso’s final day began with year 7 watching Les Choristes and then trying out one of the songs in French, assisted by some willing year 10. This was followed by a beat boxing, thanks to Danny Ladwa from the School of Beatbox, and soap sculpture workshop for each group.

Year 9:  Cambridge University Ancient Worlds Competition

The Faculty of Classics at Cambridge is well known for putting the Ancient World on screen. With Mary Beard, Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, and others on the staff, Cambridge’s Classics
academics are some of the most familiar faces on TV documentaries. Year 9 spent the day with the mission of communicating the Ancient World through film in order to enter a competition at Cambridge University. Find out more here. They even studied the television programme Love Island, to see how the it reflects the themes of ancient myths and legends of the emotions and passions we feel. They discussed the story of Circe being consumed with jealousy and desire when Glaucus falls in love with Scylla as well as other stories and then worked in groups to portray a classical story through their own chosen medium, ranging from dance to animation to sculpture.

Special thanks to Ella McGovern who designed the Curioso logo.