We’re funding Aston Villa Foundation’s “STEM STARS” teaching children about coding through football

Published 23/02/2021
3 minutes Read

Every year, the Millennium Point Charitable Trust Small Grants programme gives out grants of up to £20,000 to support science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education projects in the West Midlands. Here is the story of Aston Villa Foundation who received funding from Millennium Point in 2020.

Who’s running the project?
The Aston Villa Foundation is a registered charity that delivers the community and social responsibility work of Aston Villa Football Club. With a mission of ‘Working Together to Enrich Lives’, the foundation and its partners work with people from a variety of backgrounds in Birmingham as well as supporting the wider ‘Aston Villa family’ through schools, football in the community, disability, health and wellbeing, education, interventions and community relations.

What’s it all about?
STEM Stars will see the development of a new STEM programme in six schools, all within the targeted constituencies of Erdington, Perry Barr and Ladywood (approximately a three-mile radius of Villa Park). The funding will be used to purchase a Sphero robot package (which includes 15 x robots, 10 x tablets and 6 x small pitches) that uses football to engage young people in coding. The money will also pay for training and some of the staff delivery.

Using code, the robots can perform specific functions – such as motion and direction, colour and light, and sensor-controlled reactions, allowing students to be creative with their programs. Teachers and students can use the robots for STEM learning through activities such as navigating a maze, painting, mimicking the Solar System or swimming across water. The Aston Villa Foundation staff will create football-related tasks and work with the schoolchildren to programme the robots to recreate Villa goals from the current Premier League season.

STEM Stars is an extension of the PL Primary Stars education programme which is already delivered by the Aston Villa Foundation to schools in Perry Barr, Erdington and Ladywood. However, none of the schools currently engage in STEM activities. The schools targeted in the STEM Stars project have a high percentage of BAME and high levels of income deprivation (top 3% nationally) and education deprivation (top 8%).

Who will benefit?
The funding will help deliver 60 free days of activities at six primary schools across a school term (10 x 1 day blocks). The focus years for the sessions will be Years 4, 5 and 6, benefitting around 400 pupils in total. Exact numbers still to be determined and are COVID-19 dependent.

What they said:
Paul Hughes, Aston Villa Foundation Schools Manager, commented: “The funding will allow us to be innovative with our provision in schools and make a difference within the local community by equipping the next generations with potential skill sets of the future and looking positively ahead in an ever-evolving technological world.

“It will provide us with a further opportunity to have a positive impact on children and schools, by enriching their curriculums through this unique programme to experience, learn and develop through STEM, with the power of football and the club as a key instigator to unlocking learning potential.”

When’s it all happening?
It is hoped the project will then be rolled out to the six schools over three academic terms from January 2021.

About educational grant funding from Millennium Point
Educators, Charities and Not-for-Profits within the West Midlands Combined Authority can apply for up to £20,000 from Millennium Point to fund their STEM activity. For more information on how to access this funding please visit www.millenniumpoint.org.uk/grants

Find more interesting content from Millennium Point over at our news section, or follow us for daily updates on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn with @MillenniumPoint. Millennium Point is a landmark public building and multi-award-winning events venue in the Eastside of Birmingham City centre. Profits from our commercial activity are invested by the Millennium Point Charitable Trust into projects, events and initiatives which support the growth of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and education in the West Midlands. 

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