Saturday, 12 July 2014

Science Museum, London

I took a group of year 4 and 5 children to the London Science Museum this week.
We were amazingly lucky with the journey both there and back so maximised the amount of time we had to spend there.

The museum is just an incredible place to visit. There is nothing like it in Dorset, @Bristol isthe nearest hands-on visitor centre.  The explora centre ( link ) that is hoped for would be of such benefit to the schools in and around Dorset.  It could also provide great opportunities for young people considering teaching as a career to work with children. In fact, a wonderful opportunity for anyone who has time to spare .

The science museum , London, has the launchpad area - totally hands on zone full of activities for the children to experience. Having been many times now, I leave the children to explore for the first ten minutes or so before directing them to different exhibits and talking them through the whys , hows and wherefores.  Staff at the launchpad are super enthusiastic, but far too few in numbers.( no doubt due to financial constraints and by no means a critcism to the great staff who are there!)   To raise impact further , why not iinvolve students from Imperial college (a stone's thow away) in outreach work? Ot trainee teachers in the area? I would have loved that chance as a trainee.

When the explora centre project is up and running, it could really make the experience for visiting children even better if there are plenty of people there to explain the activities to the children. Science is such a fun subject to teach. Many practicals can be carried out easily in primary schools, but budgetary constraints mean that visits to centres with super powerful microscopes, dry ice, large scale models , super strong magnets and pulleys, can bring small scale science experiences from class to larger than life experiences.

So, get to the science museum in London if you can; it is FAB! And , if you're in the SW check out the Explora website http://www.explorascience.co.uk/index.php

Sunday, 6 July 2014

PSTT- what's it all about?

PSTT

Nope, I am not trying to get your attention ; PSTT is the Primary Science Teacher Trust (formerly known as the Astra Zeneca Teaching Trust)

Read all about the trust, their work and history here

I was thrilled to become a part of this fabulous college in 2012. This year I was lucky enough to be awarded one of the Primary Science Teacher of the Year awards alongside many other teachers . All sharing the same passion and enthusiasm for developing science teaching in their schools. What a fabulous group of people to be associated with.

The recent conference, held this year at the rather splendid University of Manchester, was truly inspirational. You can read about the conference on the above website, but I thought I would share some of the more memorable parts here. The conference was so packed that it has taken me a couple of weeks to reflect on the wealth of information shared.

The conference kicked off on Monday morning (after a very enjoyable dinner at a local Italian restaurant on the Sunday where the new college fellows had a chance to meet) with an introduction from Kathy Schofield, college director and a virtual appearance from Professor Dudley Shallcross whose vision to grow the trust to reach across every school in the country is gathering momentum.

We heard about successful projects from existing fellows such as Growing music at Shaw Primary ( see here ) funded by the PSTT.

New members then had a chance to share what they are doing in schools- so many fantastic ideas going on in schools across the country; a side of teaching that is all too often overlooked by a negativity driven media  (IMO) andnot enough time given to share and celebrate the fabulous work that is happening in our primary schools.


Following lunch, we were treated to a key note speech by Tony Hughes from Huthwaite International  (here ) "Logic is not persuasive. Neither is being right!"  where he talked about how to recognise verbal and non verbal signals. To be honest the hour he was given wasn't really enough  - a whole day, several days in fact could have been taken up with this. However, there was certainly lots of food for thought. Only two pm and already so many ideas to take away and build on!

There were various workshops going on and I had to choose which to go to; I plumped for the Making it Practical option. This was led by Tara Mawby (website ) and was full of great ideas.
My favourites were odd one out starter questions to get the children thinking . For example I am going to try one with my class following our earth in space topic :









Really like the idea that there are so many possible answers; great way to encourage children to be confident about having a go.

We also looked at how to use easily available pocket money toys to stimulate scientific enquiry.
 This was a great way to make me think outside the box when it comes to our resources. The new, slimmed down , curriculum gives so much more time to devote to working scientifically. Pocket money toys such as the above can lend themselves to so many activities. Children choose an object adn come up with a question that they could then test out.

I then went to a workshop which focused on KS1 (but everything could go across both KS1 and 2)
This was run by Pam Waite and was FAB. One of my favourites from the session was this ingenious way to make a Cartesian diver:



and this way to make branching databases with children more accessible: I often use objects to make these but had not thought of doing it on quite such a grand scale; fabulous way to do it!

 

Goodness me- and this was just on day one!
Day two to follow