Top tip: keep it simple

22nd November 2002 at 00:00
This year's winning STEM website from Bishop's Stortford www.explorescience.comindex.cfm is designed to help students understand human science and the effects of people on the world. Based on a visit to the Science Museum's Wellcome Wing, it includes a section on the application of genetics. The site was created by sixth-formers Tom Simmons (16), Andrew Sanger (18) and Charlotte Koch (17).

Andrew, who was also a STEM winner in 2000, says: "A good website must have good navigation - people must quickly find what they need and there should be no danger of getting lost. The design must be clean and simple, and the text must be concise, as visitors don't want to plough through reams of information."

He knows what he is talking about. Three years ago Andrew suggested to the head of religious studies at Bishop's Stortford that the department should have its own website, and was given the go-ahead to build it. A year later he added an online debating lounge, to reflect the activities that take place in today's RS classroom. Last year the site was launched publicly as Thinkonline (www.thinkonline.org), a forum for religious and ethical debates, which now attracts half a million hits every month. It is aimed at "all people who want to think, regardless of their religious belief". Andrew manages and edits the site, his teachers contribute essays and seminars, and the school helps raise funds to support its maintenance and growth.

He also devotes time to his internet company, UKAlive, an internet service provider (ISP) which he runs with a former Bishop's Stortford pupil who is now at university. Andrew says: "It can be quite stressful sometimes, but it has provided outstanding experience."

Andrew is studying not science, but a humanities line-up - history, English, philosophy and politics - and has applied to read philosophy at Cambridge.

He says: "What is great about this school is that it gives you the opportunity to do so many things. When you want to put your ideas into practice, the teachers say: yes, go ahead - we'll back you."

Competing in STEM has achieved cult status at the school, with younger students aspiring to emulate the success of previous generations. And their efforts are entirely driven by the students themselves, who work on STEM after hours and in holidays.

The STEM awards are open to anyone involved in education, from primary children to teaching students at college or university. Entrants create an educational website based on a visit to the London Science Museum, the National Railway Museum in York, or the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford.

Tel: 020 7942 4771 Entry details for the 2003 awards and links to STEM websites can be found at www.sciencemuseum.org.ukeducationstem

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