Oakham was selected to pilot the project in England after the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University Belfast had run it successfully for a year in schools in Northern Ireland, and wanted to widen the scheme to allow more pupils to benefit.
“We are an ambitious library – always looking for new and exciting ways to increase pupils’ interests in all kinds of reading,” says Darryl Toerien, head of library.
“As such we are delighted to be able to help establish the Project 500 scheme in England.”
The project actively encourages pupils to read science-focused books. All pupils receive a ‘Passport to the Solar System’ to work through, gaining stickers and recognition when they have read books and undertaken work based on their reading, which results in a certificate at the end.
Lower School pupils from Oakham School are taking part (Lower 1 and Form 2), as well as KS2 pupils from Brooke Hill Academy. The project was launched to Oakham School pupils in Form 2 with a talk from famous author Matt Dickinson who highlighted many of the scientific aspects of his Everest climb.
Following their Science Museum sleepover, Lower 1 are now reading their science books and undertaking a research project in order to complete Project 500.
Mr Westley, head of school at Brooke Hill, says, “After being approached by Oakham School about Project 500 we were very keen to become involved in some capacity.
“There is a growing emphasis on the importance of science within the new National Curriculum and we felt our children could benefit hugely from taking their learning within the subject as far as they could!”
The project was introduced to pupils from Brooke Hill Academy in a fun assembly – which was then followed by a ‘Men In Black’ style visit by a ‘special agent’ of the newly formed Brooke Hill Oakham School Space Agency (BHOSSA)!
The next part of the mission was for all of the KS2 pupils to visit the Library at Oakham School (BHOSSA Mission Control). They began with a briefing on alien adaptation.
Then they were introduced to the library to research the solar system and to learn how aliens may need to adapt to survive on different planets.
All of these pupils are now busy reading up on the topic, and will then present back their work on alien adaptation in order to gain their certificates for completing Project 500.
Mr Westley continues: “The children have been collecting their own planetary stickers in their Project 500 passports and we have plans to visit a local astronomy group with some our children next term to hopefully further inspire their interest in science!”
Darryl concluded: “We are really pleased to be able to encourage reading in the wider Oakham community, and very much hope that we can, in time, invite more local primary schools to take part.
“Generating a real interest in science, and STEM more broadly, is key in the transition from primary to secondary school – and books, regardless of whether they are fiction or non-fiction, are a great way of doing this.”