Category Archives: Learning Outside The Classroom

Microsoft DigiGirlz Event

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A group of 3 Year 8 girls headed to the Microsoft Headquarters in Reading during Half Term to take part in their DigiGirlz event. The aim of the event was to educate young girls about the opportunities available whilst pursuing STEM-related subjects. The girls were first spoken to by 3 very senior Microsoft employees who spoke to them about all of the possibilities available in STEM-related careers and how to get there. We also heard the truly inspirational story of how Jennifer Achiro made her way from a small Ugandan town to become the Enterprise Sales Lead in the Central Government, based at Microsoft. Fuelled by inspiration, the girls were then set off on the ‘Maker Challenge’. The challenge was to make/think of a product that would make life easier for someone with any form of disability. The Pinewood girls chose to focus on those who have a hearing impairment and created a watch that alerts the wearer, using Micro:Bit technology, when a doorbell rings or a smoke alarm is set off. They created a working prototype by coding their Micro:Bits and then perfected their pitch. After a delicious lunch provided by Microsoft we were then sent on a Treasure Hunt around the campus where we had to find questions and try to answer them correctly. Once we had completed the hunt we then headed up to the ‘den’ with our prototype and the girls had to pitch to 3 senior Microsoft employees. They did fantastically and fielded some tricky questions! The girls, unfortunately, did not win the overall prize but they have come away filled with enthusiasm and motivation. A huge thank you to Microsoft for a wonderful day.

For more photos from the event please go to the Photo Gallery.

Race For The Line Competition

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Half a term’s work building race cars out of foam blocks culminated in the Race for the Line Race Day on Thursday 14th March.

After the weather postponed the start of our race we were ready and raring to go at 14:15. The rain had stopped, the sun had come out, but the wind was still howling. This didn’t deter us, though, we just set the track up to use the wind to our best advantage! A few technical issues meant we started later than anticipated, but this just meant that the tension had more time to build. We overcame the technical issues and were ready to go. ‘Track Live’ was shouted across the hard courts from the race engineers (Miss Stevens and Miss Martyn-Fisher), ‘Clear’ was shouted back by the race marshal (Mr Newcome) and the countdown began ‘3, 2, 1….GO!’ and the first car shot across the start line and raced to the finish.

All of the cars made it successfully to the finish line, some in a sorrier state than others with missing wheels and scraped paint work!

Well done to the winning team for gaining a place at the Regional Finals (details to follow once they have been released).

Winners: Pineapples (Tommy B, George L and Max R) speed = 18.62 m/s

2nd place: Flymingos (Randeep G, Hattie S and Melissa W) speed = 18.38 m/s

3rd place: Fiery Rainbows (Charlie S, Jack W, Tilly B) speed = 14.21 m/s

For more photos from the event please go to the Photo Gallery.

Fly To The Line Competition Regional Winners!

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Well done to our team of Year 5 engineers (Joao Filipe, Jamie, Marius & James) who competed against 9 other teams from Oxfordshire to win the regional finals of the Fly To The Line competition at RAF Benson yesterday.

Calling themselves Pinewood Airlines the boys had to build a brand new glider from scratch. No templates this time, just a piece of paper, a piece of A3 foam, a pencil and a ruler! They worked well as a team to come up with a design that they thought was going to allow their glider to travel the furthest, using specific measurements and precise cutting.

The atmosphere was a mixture of excitement and nerves as we gathered in the hangar for the competition. We were told that the winner would be chosen from the best of 3 flights. The first flight was launched from the catapult at a 5 degree angle. Pinewood Airlines were up third and we stepped up to the launcher with a little trepidation. Our glider was mounted and then 3, 2, 1 GO! Our glider was launched and didn’t stop for a huge distance! It was the best launch of the day! We had some tough competition from 2 other teams and as the competition came to a close we had no idea who the winner was. As the results were checked and verified we waited nervously. Then, finally, the results were announced… 7 schools, 9 teams and only 1 winner: Pinewood Airlines! The boys were ecstatic and, rightfully, proud of their efforts!

Well done, boys, on a great day of engineering work!

For more photos from the day, please go to the Photo Gallery.

Year 5 Fly To The Line Competition

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This was the first time that we had run this competition at Pinewood so excitement levels were high!

The aim: to build a glider out of an A3 foam sheet and see how far it travelled when launched. The children had to use their knowledge and understanding of forces to think of the best shape for their gliders.

The venue: the Pinewood Sports Hall, in order to limit any weather variations.

The competition: nail biting!

Joint winners: Fortnite Airlines and The Victorious Age, who will be heading to the Regional Finals on 13th February at RAF Benson, Wallingford, where they will be building another glider and competing against other Year 5 and 6 children from schools across Oxfordshire.

Well done to everyone in Year 5 and good luck to winners in the regional finals!

For more photos from the event, please go to the photo gallery.

Pinewood Gold Programme – First Pupils Achieve Their Gold Award!

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Well done to Matilda R, Poppy R and Emily P, who are the first Pinewood pupils to complete the Gold Award of the Pinewood Gold Programme. This is a tremendous achievement as the Year 6 girls have completed all three levels in just four terms!

The Gold Programme started in September 2015 and forms part of the Pinewood enrichment programme for Years 5, 6 and 7 and its aim is to encourage children to explore new areas outside the normal curriculum, to develop intellectual curiosity and to cultivate skills for independent learning. As a voluntary programme, children can choose from 40 challenges all linked to a broad area of the curriculum. Bronze, Silver and Gold awards are given at the completion of each level in the challenge.

To achieve their Gold Award, Matilda, Poppy and Emily each had to complete 10 challenges (some of which were completed as part of their Bronze and Silver Awards).

Matilda created two games designed to teach Maths and French vocabulary to children. She then became a natural history explorer and walked the same route five times recording observations of plants and animal life as she went. Finally, Matilda devised a literary tea party for some book characters and made a banana milkshake for Ruby Redfort.

Poppy designed two new book covers for some favourite books. She made a game, adapted from Snakes and Ladders to teach younger children numeracy. Poppy planned a walk around her local area, which she completed five times at different times of the day and in different weather conditions, making detailed observations each time. To complete her Gold Award Poppy created a literary tea party and made some ‘worm’ spaghetti for Mr Twit!

Emily made an explorer scrapbook on Amelia Earhart and a Maths game to teach numeracy to a younger child. She then made a French game called ‘Voyage, Voyage!’ with questions and chance cards. Finally, to complete her Gold Award Emily produced a menu and invitations to a literary tea party and made some marmalade sandwiches and strawberry tarts for her guests, Paddington and Alice!

Well done, Matilda, Poppy and Emily!

Bradfield College Year 5 Science Challenge Winners!

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A mixture of nerves and excitement filled Freddie, Sasha, Hamish and Zara as we made our way into Bradfield College’s fantastic Science department ready to start the Prep Schools’ Science Challenge.

Children from 20 different prep schools started to arrive with similar feelings to the Pinewood team and the atmosphere was tense! The children were briefed that the challenge would consist of 3 practical challenges and a quiz in each science and that they needed to work as a team in order to do well. Our first challenge was Biology, which involved observational skills whilst looking at plant cells through microscopes and studying the behaviour of maggots when put on a petri dish, that was half in the light and half in the dark. The next challenge was all about Physics where the children were tasked with making a loudspeaker out of cardboard, paper and copper wire that would play music from an iPhone. A much needed biscuit and juice break followed the Physics challenged and once the children were recharged and ready to go they headed into their final challenge: Chemistry. Here the children had to identify unlabelled chemicals by mixing them with other, labelled chemicals and observe the reactions between them. This, I was told, was ‘really cool’! Dr Brooks, Bradfield’s Director of Science, who then gave a Whizz, Bang, Pop demonstration that involved hydrogen balloons, liquid nitrogen and a little bit of scientific ‘magic’ that left both children and adults in awe. We then headed over to the quad where we were treated to a Nitrogen ‘bomb’ demonstration and then the all-important results. The children all fell silent for the first time that afternoon whilst Dr Brooks read out 3rd place (no mention of Pinewood), then 2nd place (still no mention of Pinewood) and then, with suspense at its highest, he announced that Pinewood had won!! A huge well done to the Pinewood team, they worked sensibly, scientifically and as part of a team and we are all very proud of them!


Smooth Newt Found in Pinewood Pond!


Year 7 are enjoying their Cross-Curricular Week and this morning were very excited (although not as excited as Head of Science, Mrs LT!) to find a smooth newt in the pond when they went pond dipping. Mrs LT said it is the first time she has ever seen one at Pinewood!

Year 7 Race For The Line Competition

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Yesterday morning Year 7 were finally able to see their foam rocket cars in action in Pinewood’s first Race for the Line competition. This is part of a national competition to inspire interest in STEM subjects by getting pupils to work in teams to design, build and race their model rocket cars based on the Bloodhound model.

The race track was built in the lower car park by Staff Sergeant Helen Jones and her team from MOD Corsham.  The cars were racked up and loaded with charges.   After an enthusiastic count down for each car the charge was ignited and the cars shot off down the race track.  Each car was timed at top speed as it passed through a light gate before crashing into some foam lagging at the finish.

We were delighted (and relieved) that all the children’s designs met the safety criteria for racing and all survived ignition, reaching the finishing line intact.  The fastest cars travelled at over 13 m/s (an impressive 47 km/hour) but variations in time were affected most by how well the cars travelled along the guide wire.  Cars that travelled straight and ran well along the ground pulled least on the wire and so were not slowed by friction.

It was great fun seeing all the cars whizz past and we are delighted that The Flameingoes have qualified for the regional finals in May!  We are very grateful to the team from MOD Corsham for making race day possible.   Well done everyone!


The results are shown below.

For more photos please go to the Photo Gallery.

Team Name Time (ms) Position
Poppy A, Amber 76.1 3
Phantom, Edward L & Tom F 77.7
Toby, Alfie, Ben C 76.9
Benny, Kiki (Super Duper Fast Car) 77.6
Ines, Ollie C, Atticus (Black Panther) 74.6 2
William, Milan (MOWAMZ) 83.8
Grace, Poppy I, Ottilie (Toastin) 91.8
Minnie, Amelia, Tabbie (The flying rocket mat) 87.2
Bella, Caitlin, Oliver, Yasha 89.9
Georgie, Max, Tara, Alice, Poppy (The Flamingoes) 71.9 1
Cecilia, Grace, Iona, Poppy, Rosa (Speeding Speedos) 78.6
Raffy, Katya, Alexandra, Samson (Bob the builder) 77.3

Stargazing at Pinewood

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A huge thank you to the parents of the 2017 Year 8 Leavers who generously gave the school an amazing telescope. After many failed attempts at stargazing due to bad weather and the lunar cycle we were finally able to show some Pre-Prep and Year 7 pupils a close up view of the moon on Thursday evening.  We hope that this will be the first of many star and moon gazing opportunities.

Thanks are also due to Chris, Pinewood’s Database Manager and resident stargazing expert for sharing his technical expertise and enthusiasm.

For more photos please go to the Gallery.


Pinewood Weather Station

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Pinewood now has its very own weather station, kindly paid for by Friends of Pinewood.

You can track the data from the weather station by going to: Login and password details can be found on the Pigeon.

The weather station will allow us to track rainfall, temperature and wind speed/direction amongst other things and will be a very useful real life tool for our budding geographers.